The Roman Guy Food Tour and Why You Should Book It!

July 30, 2018

I’ll admit it - I love going to Italy to eat! Who doesn’t? Nowhere is food more central to life and old-world traditions than in Italy, so it comes as no surprise that when one visits Rome, Italy's capitol, their culinary expectations are high. 

Like any traveller, I’ve had my fair share of great, mediocre and bad dining experiences while travelling, some of which have taken place in Rome where hundreds of picturesque restaurants line its ancient streets. Admittedly, a few of those meals came courtesy of a friendly waiter who encouraged me to come inside, even though the tourist menu staring back at me pleaded, “Don’t do it, Francesca!” What can I say, I’m a sucker for kindness and on occasion when my feet ache and I’m starting to feel ‘hangry’ my restaurant choices have knowingly come at the expense of a great meal. 

So when I recently visited Rome in the company of 5 foodie friends (3 of whom had never been there), I wanted to approach our dining experience differently. With food tours being the fastest growing experience category on TripAdvisor in 2017 and Italy dominating the list, I decided to sign us up on a food-and-wine tour with The Roman Guy that would guide us through the ivy-covered, cobblestoned streets in and around Trastevere; one of the city’s famed culinary districts. I had a lot riding on this decision, as surely my reputation as a travel journalist would be put to the test. 

We arrived at Piazza Farnese at 6 pm to begin our Trastevere Food Tour with Dimitri; a tall gentleman holding up a sign that read The Roman Guy. For a brief moment I questioned my decision. Was partaking in a food tour too touristy, in particular for an Italian-Canadian travel writer? But I figured that if I was going to place my reputation and culinary fate in the hands of anyone, it may as well be Dimitiri, a local expert on Roman food culture, and thankfully I did. From the moment we began our gastronomic exploration all my doubts melted away - we were in good hands! 

With Dimitri at the helm, we happily ate and drank our way through Rome’s atmospheric neighbourhoods dining in trattorias, osterias and restaurants beloved by locals. Our first of many stops was at a family owned cheese shop where we tasted a variety of cheese and salami that we washed down with sparkling organic Prosecco wine. We then savoured pipping hot Filetti di Baccalà (deep-fried codfish, a popular Roman street food); farm to table antipasti made of fresh local produce; pizza al taglio (Roman pizza cut to go); deep-fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella); traditional Cacio e Pepe and Amatriciana pastas; and finally mouth-watering artisanal gelato, all the while Dimitri pointed out spots of historical significance and peppered his commentary with fun and interesting facts. Case in point, did you know that there are 900 churches in Rome and that Campo Dei Fiori is the only piazza in the city without a church in it? Or, did you know that there are 400 different types of cheeses and 1000 types of salami in Italy? Mind blowing, I know. We also learned the proper way to serve wine and why it is served that way. WATCH the video below to discover the murderous reason why! 

Exploring Rome’s culinary scene with The Roman Guy brought Roman cuisine and culture to life in a way that only a local expert could, and because of that I experienced Rome in a way I never had before. It wasn’t until we were in the private cellar of a local restaurant devouring two plates of Rome’s most famed pastas (Rigatoni alla Amatriciana and Cacio e Pepe Pasta) that I was told that before gladiators went out to fight to their death they filled their bellies with a plate of Cacio e Pepe. Though only a nice legend, I will never again eat a plate of it without turning my thoughts to Rome’s 3,000 year old history. Arguably Roman cuisine has evolved since then, but what I discovered during my food tour with The Roman Guy is that a lot of the flavours we know and love have been served on local tables since the beginning of time. 

At the end of our 4-hour tour I thought to myself, would I book one of The Roman Guy tours again? My answer: definitely! Why? It turns out that food tours are a wonderful way to connect to a place and to share in a culinary experience that for us became a highlight during our visit to Rome. They are a fun opportunity to meet new people and a stress-free way to ensure you try all the best regional dishes accompanied by wine. In many ways, a good food tour is like getting your hands on the little black book of a local foodie and having them personally guide you through its pages. So the next time you visit Rome, I highly recommend you book any one of The Roman Guy tours.

Tours range from food, historical sites and skip the line private visits to the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, which we did the following day and loved. Highlights from that tour, besides the obvious skip the line private visit, was ALL the knowledge we acquired that day. I learned things I never knew before, in spite of my numerous visits there, and that made the experience an incredible and memorable one!      

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