Via Cola di Rienzo 196
06 687 4383
Walking into this shop will make any foodie think they have died and gone to heaven! Castroni has been operating since 1932 and maybe this is the reason it reminds me of the Harrods food court. Now there are several new locations scattered over Rome, but the shop on Cola Di Rienzo is the one you want. It is one of the few places to buy any specialized spice or imported delicacy, but as you didn’t come to Italy to eat Thai food, you will probably be interested in their huge range of national products. It’s a great place for presents to take back home and I’d recommend the Condorelli “Torroncini” (bite sized soft nougats), that are a Sicilian speciality or the home brand coffee.
All of my guests to Rome have had Castroni circled in their maps along with the Colosseum and the Pantheon!
Via Cola di Rienzo 204
06 687 4651
Right next door to Castroni is Franchi, a gourmet delicatessen with a prepared foods department and a ritzy clientele. This shop is packed with all sorts of goodies; ask to have your food wrapped up, or you may choose to squash up with the best of them, and eat on the premises (standing room only).
Try the southern Italian “supplì” (or “arancini”). They are rice balls with mozzarella and a spoonful of ragù inside, breaded and deep fried… cheap, tasty, filling and portable.
If you just can’t resist a block of parmigiano reggiano or pecorino romano to take home, you can also asked for it to be vacuum sealed (“sotto vuoto”) for the flight.
Ciampini Ice-cream Cafè and Parlour
Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina, 29
The big debate as who has the best olive oil in Italy, almost rivals the debate over who has the best ice-cream in Rome. Traditionally Giolitti wins, (located in Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40), but if you do get a chance to do a taste test before your chocolate/pistachio single cone melts, I think you might agree that the throngs of tourists at Giolitti are not worth the effort. Try Ciampini for the sedate, austere “Roman” approach. In fact the flavours are not even up on a board! Remember that you will be charged a hefty price if you choose to sit at the outside tables and order your ice-cream from a waiter.