We experienced With Locals in Lisbon a couple of months back and decided to do another tour, this time in Rome.

Posted by Jennie

With Locals Rome has many tempting experiences to enjoy like Vespa tours, cooking classes, a Pope, Pizza and Prosecco Tour and even an Italian Dinner with Opera Singers! We chose the VIP Michelin Star Food Tour because we like to eat. It comes at a rather steep price tag of E111/ person, compared to the E40 /person we paid for our Lisbon food tour. Of course in Lisbon we had street food and this was a Michelin Star Food Tour. Obviously expectations were high.

We were to meet our “local” Massimo at the Piazza Colonna at 11:30am. Like every thing you see in Rome, the meeting place is in itself a work of art. The marble Column of Marcus Aurelius is what the piazza is named after and it has stood here since AD 193.

Marble column
A victory column built in honour of the conquests of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Massimo was right on time. I recognized him from the video I saw of him on With Locals. I chose him after all because I liked his energy and enthusiasm. It turns out Massimo is a Roman through and through. He has lived in Rome all his life. How very lucky of him! He says one can never be sad in Rome because of all the beauty that surrounds you. It was a beautiful spring day in a beautiful city and our group of 5 began the tour with a spring in our step.

Massimo 1

 

first stop
The unassuming 1 Michelin Star Enoteca Achilli Al Parlamento

Our first stop was not too far from our meeting place. A set of doors led us inside the Enoteca Achilli Al Parlamento. Frequented by members of the Italian Parliament which is practically next door, Chef Massimo Viglione is at the helm of this 1 star Michelin restaurant. Massimo explains what we are about to eat as well as the philosophy of the chef and then leaves us alone to enjoy our food and drinks. Drinks by the way is pay as you order.

Here we were served a wonderful and abundant selection of canapés with each canapé highlighting 1 ingredient which went perfectly well with a bottle of  absolutely delicious Prosecco. So what are those bites below? There’s an olive tepenade, a parmesan square, an anchovy with cheese, bresaola and before this a plate of delicious mortadella.

It’s an Enoteca because it hold hundreds of bottles of wine and spirits.

From here we made our way to Via Condotti all the way up the Spanish Steps till we hit the end of Via Venetto. The streets were not too crowded like they are during the summer months and the weather was lovely. Along the way Massimo showed us the first Gucci and Ferragamo stores which have remained in the same location since they opened in the 1940s.

After that long walk, we were definitely famished. But the view was hard to resist so we spent a good 15 minutes just admiring the Roman skyline in all its splendour from the deck of Guida Ballerino! on the 8th floor of the historic Hotel Bernini Bristol. The restaurant overlooks the Piazza Bernini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Triton Fountain. The restaurant is a repeat recipient of a Michelin Star. Guida Ballerino translates to “Judas Dancer” which is the expression of Dylan Dog, a detective in a comic book and one of the chef’s favorites. The chef, Andrea Fusco is obviously passionate about comic books based on the interiors and yes good food. Here we had 5 starters to share and our choice of 1 main course each.

Best view
Best seat in the house.
Bernini View
View of Bernini’s Triton Fountain below and St. Peter’s Basilica in the horizon.
Guida kitchen
Giuda Ballerino’s open kitchen with prints from the cartoon series.

Starters to share which included Salmon with Fennel and Blood Oranges, Prosciutto with Mozzarella and Steamed Mussels.

Giuda Pasta 2
Massimo recommended this pasta dish but it’s name escapes me at the moment.

Another pasta dish. I had the sea bass and it was cooked to perfection!

We would have wanted to linger and take in more of the skyline but we only had Massimo until 3pm and by the time we were done with lunch it was close to 3pm. We took a taxi to Aroma Restaurant, another 1 star Michelin restaurant at the rooftop of the Palazzo Manfredi. From one amazing view to another, at Aroma you get unparalleled views of the Colosseum. Dessert was a exquisite creation of ice cream and mousse with warm crumbled caramelized nuts, a basil puree and edible flowers. It was a play of hot and cold, chewy and crumbly as well as sweet and salty. I’m not sure if the chef, Giuseppe Di Iorio created the desserts, but it was seriously good stuff.

Colleseo

We said arrivederci to our host Massimo, he told us he had a wonderful time with our group because we were genuine lovers of good food. I gifted him with my standard Philippine mangoes with dark chocolate and his expression was priceless. We stayed for another round of dessert without first checking the cost. It’s a good thing it was delicious and well worth E24!

Tres Leches
Tres Leches. A work of art worth every euro!

 

Rome
Truly the Eternal City, Rome is a city you can never shake off.