For a few days last week, we had the chance to share Rome with our good friends Virginia Penhume and Robert Zatorre. They live in Montreal, and we spent lots of time with them during our last sabbatical. So it was only fitting that they were our first visitors during this sabbatical year.

A program and tickets for "The Eli Show"

Much of our time revolved around food – eating, discussing, planning, remembering… We share the view that a main topic of discussion during any given meal should be the fare for the next meal! Our first meal together was a dinner on our rooftop terrace, followed by The Eli Show.  In the evenings, the kids have taken to performing a show that is a mix of improv theater (something they learned to love in Madison) and song/dance. It’s a pretty good deal at 15 cents per person, and Robert and Virginia were good sports.

The next day was fish day. Appropriate, as it was a Friday. For lunch, we found a spot that serves food from Le Marche, a seaside town in Abbruzzo. We scored a table outside in a lovely square, and the proprietor took charge of our ordering. Sauteed chicory and string beans, followed by a seafood misto (an assortment of seafood flash fried) and possibly the best swordfish I’d ever had. It was broiled very simply, and the oil in the bottom of the pan made for an amazing bread dip. The wine, a kind of vino verde from Marche, is bottled especially for the restaurant. We will be back!

Making Nell laugh during the show.

In the evening we decided to make our way to Monti, which is a less touristy, up-and-coming neighborhood not far from the Forum and Coliseum. We wandered tiny streets and peered into restaurants, trying to decide where to eat. Virginia had a good feeling about a tiny place on Via Urbana that specializes in dishes from Puglia, especially vegetables and fish. We were a little wary because it was empty at 8:30 PM, but we decided to give it a try. Within 30 minutes after sitting down, all 8 tables were full and people were being turned away at the door. The fish was fantastic and we spent a lovely 3 hours enjoying morsels of delicious food, Puglian white wine, and the room’s ambience; the seats were all taken up by friends of the proprietors (two young-ish hipsters) and their chef.

Choosing the pizza slices.

For Robert and Virginia’s last night in Rome, we wanted to get them really great pizza. So we took the Metro to Pizzarium and bought pizza to reheat for dinner. We were probably a funny sight, boarding the metro with two boxes of pizza a taglio. I think that R&V would agree that the pizza was pretty amazing. Eli’s favorite was the pizza rosso, as usual (very simple pizza with a delectable red sauce). Nell says she can’t live without the pizza with little cherry tomatoes on top. And the rest of us oohed and ahhed our way through anchovies and roasted peppers and chicory and too many other yummy things to list. We hope Robert and Virginia visit again soon!

Photo credit, Eli Pollak

Now we ourselves are off to visit friends – first a week in Munich with our friends Paula, Markus, Alexander, Théo, Sebastian, and Benjamin, and then a week with our friends Pernille, Steve, Elliot, and Sophie in Copenhagen. We are excited to explore their cities and foods with them!