Seven of the best food experiences in Testaccio, Rome
Rome’s riverside neighbourhood is a magnet for those after a true taste of the Italian capital. Don’t leave without sampling some typical Roman fare, from fresh peaches to stuffed pizza pockets.
1. Pizza bianca from Panificio Passi
Since 1972, the Passi family have been making and selling pizza bianca from their handsome shop on Via Mastro Giorgio. Don’t be put out if you turn up and see no pizza bianca behind the counter — it simply means the two-metre lengths of dimpled pizza dough, with a cushiony top and a firm bottom, are still in the oven. Join the queue, wait for one to emerge, get brushed with more oil, then sold to you by weight. Via Mastro Giorgio 87.
2. Supplì from Trapizzino
Located opposite Santa Maria Liberatrice church on Via Giovanni Branca, Trapizzino is easily to spot, with its red awnings. That’s just the outside — inside, its signature pizza pockets (trapizzini), stuffed with five classic Roman fillings, have earned it a solid reputation among the city’s street food fans. Trapizzino’s supplì, however, are the standout dish: elongated balls of variously seasoned rice, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs then deep-fried, not unlike arancini. At the heart of a classic supplì,is mozzarella, which melts during frying, and stretches like telephone cables when you bite into it
3. Maritozzi from Linari
Linari isn’t just a cake shop and bar, it’s a hub of activity — especially in the mornings. As well as the usual offerings of cornetti (Italian-style croissants) filled with custard, nutella or jam, and ring doughnuts, Linari’s glass-topped bar contains maritozzi. Legend has it that these semi-sweet, yeasted buns filled with cream were once given to girls by suitors hoping to become their husband (‘marito’, in Italian, hence the name). These days, however, maritozzi are a delicious Roman staple enjoyed by all, and are typically followed by an espresso.
4. Fruit and vegetables from Marco & Mattia at Testaccio Market
Every neighbourhood in Rome has a street market, and Testaccio is no exception. But don’t expect old-world quaint here; this new market hall is modern and functional, but still the heart of the quarter and home to stalls that have traded in Testaccio for decades. Swing by Marco & Mattia, whose produce from their land in Rome and Maccarese mirrors the seasons and provides the best inspiration as to what you should be eating and when, whether it be globe artichokes, peas, tomatoes, porcini mushrooms or peaches.
5. Fried anchovies from La Torricella
Dusted with flour, deep fried until they curl, then served with wedge of lemon, the anchovies at La Torricella are one of the finest things to eat in Testaccio. If you’re visiting in winter, follow a starter of fried fish with bean and chestnut soup. In summer, go for the mezze maniche pasta with octopus braised in tomato sauce and eaten at one of the outside tables, positioned on a quiet residential street.
6. Polpette with basil sauce at Da Corrado at Testaccio Market
Alongside the vendors peddling meat, fruit, vegetables and homewares at Testaccio Market are stalls selling delicious takeaway food. Perhaps the best of these is the most unassuming Da Corrado, run by Corrado and Luca, whose deep knowledge of natural wine and good cooking makes this a unique gem. Especially good is the polpette (a sort of meat loaf), interlaced with prosciutto and served with a pale green basil sauce.
7. Beer and crisps at Oasi della Birra
This is less about Oasi della Birra (although it’s a perfectly good beer and wine shop), and more about Piazza Testaccio itself. Slightly stark when you first approach, with a modernist fountain at the centre and metal benches around the edge, this is a meeting palace of the best kind. An Italian piazza in the true sense of the word, it’s a space for absolutely everyone — locals, visitors, young and old — to wander, watch and talk. Buy a take-away beer or Campari from Oasis, find a bench and join in.
Published in the November 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
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