Quo vadis romae? An app for the Rome-bound pilgrim.

Above: Rome is the most beautiful city in the world, imho, and it’s the greatest place in the world to drink Italian wine. I snapped this shot of the Colosseum when I was there last September.

Quo vadis romae? (Where are you going, Rome-bound pilgrim?)

It seems that nearly every week I receive a message from a romeo or romea — a Rome-bound pilgrim (pronounced roh-MEH-oh, btw), the original meaning of the proper name that Shakespeare’s play made so famous in the English language.

Yesterday, I received two (no kidding)! In both emails, the romeos asked me where to eat and drink in the Eternal City.

Above: Katie Parla is my go-to when I go to Rome. Here’s the post about our amazing dinner at Pizzeria La Fucina last year.

As much I know and love Rome (I spent six months studying the Petrarchan manuscripts at the Vatican library when I was a Fulbright fellow) and as much I know and love the wine and restaurant scene there (it is, imho, the greatest city of Italian wine), ubi major, minor cessat: my favorite expert on all things Roman, the inimitable (and aptly named) Katie Parla has released a Rome guide app for smartphones.

I highly recommend her blog and her app. She is my number-one resource for what’s cool and cutting edge in the Roman food and wine scene.

Above: Rome always takes my breath away. I snapped the above photo in September.

On this Good Friday, it seemed appropriate to post about Rome and Katie’s blog.

My best advice about visiting Rome? When a Roman cab driver takes you the long way so that he can charge you a little bit extra, he’s not ripping you off: he’s showing you around the most beautiful city on earth.

A pizza revolution in Rome?

Above: Pizza (?) with mortadella (mortazza in Roman) and pistachios at Pizzeria La Fucina is all the rage in Rome.

Since I had to return my rental car to Rome before heading north today, I decided to treat myself to an evening in the Eternal City (one of my fav places on earth), where I connected for dinner with my go-to-ex-pat-blogger when it comes to where to eat and drink in the City on the Tiber, Katie Parla. (I owe my connection to Katie to our mutual friend and fellow Italian enogastronomic journeyman Michael Housewright.)

Katie suggested that we hit Pizzeria La Fucina, one of the more controversial pizza destinations in the pizzaiolo universe.

Italy, after all, is where the true “pizza wars” are being waged.

Above: The margherita at Fucina isn’t exactly what you would call a “traditional” expression of the hallowed pizzaiolo legacy.

Fucina and its owner Edoardo Papa have been pushing the envelope of pizza and its cultural significance in Italy in all sorts of ways. I guess it really comes down to your definition of what pizza is is. The toppings are decidedly not traditional (like the pizza with mortazza and pistachios, above, the venue’s signature dish), the artisanal beer list is impressively lengthy and entirely awesome, and Edoardo encourages pairing wine and pizza with a beefy wine list that includes some unusual selections (for any pizzeria let alone a pizzeria in Rome), like Cappellano Dolcetto (!) and Etna Rosso by Terre Nere.

Above: Whether or not there’s a true pizza revolution happening in Rome has yet to be seen but there’s no doubt that an artisanal beer movement has taken flight. The beer was super delicious, salty, and crunchy.

“Pizza and beer is not the ideal pairing,” said Edoardo, noting that “it’s not good for the stomach to pair yeast with yeast.”

I didn’t bother pointing out that the yeast isn’t active in the beer nor in the pizza, nor did I bring to his attention the fact that yeast is also employed (whether by nature or by humankind) in the vinification of grape must. (He is a papa, after all, in the papal city.)

Above: Katie’s blog is a great resource for anyone traveling to Rome. I highly recommend it. Between the two of us taking photos of our pizza, it was like a scene out of the movie Man Bites Dog (remember that one?). Her lens is bigger than mine though.

I’m not really sure how I feel about Fucina: the dishes were more like savory flatbread than pizza. They were tasty and I really loved the feel of the restaurant and the good vibes of the waitstaff (not always easy to find in Rome). But I’d definitely recommend checking it out for the culinarily adventurous (it’s a hike to get out there from downtown Rome but well worth experiencing a real slice of Roman life, pun intended).

I’m on a train making my way to Padua now to visit with friends and will be taking a few days off. The next leg of my trip will take me even farther north…

See you on the other side and happy new year everyone!