Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

From Hotel Chef To Home Cook, Alessandro Shares His Journey To Social Dining In Rome

It may come as no surprise that an Italian childhood is a childhood of memories strongly linked to food and cooking. Our self-styled “authentic Roman” host tells us that this was the most important gift that was passed down to him: “by my grandmother to my mother, and since the age of 4 years old, from my mother to me.”

From Hotel To Home Chef, Why Alessandro Embraced Social Dining

Alessandro, a trained chef and sommelier from Rome, still remembers the dishes of his traditional Italian childhood, which were classics like “homemade pasta, gnocchi, pizza, and Roman dishes.” From there, Alessandro became well-versed in the flavours of his country. The first dish he ever made? Classic homemade fettuccine in a tomato sauce.

Going pro

Rather than let his interest in cooking remain a mere hobby, Alessandro wanted to do something he loved for a living. He tells us how he first entered the food industry:

I worked and studied at the Marriott Hotel in Rome. There I underwent training to become the Chef of the Hotel. Once I had my chef’s diploma I looked into Sommelier qualifications and registered at the Worldwide Sommelier Association, becoming Rome Cavalieri Hotel’s official sommelier.

Being a hotel chef was a fantastic learning curve for Alessandro, but interaction with the people he was feeding was something he felt was missing. This skilful chef decided to take the plunge into social dining, and bring his professional cooking skills back to his own kitchen by opening a home restaurant with a stunning view of the Vatican.

From Hotel To Home Chef, Why Alessandro Embraced Social Dining

“I wanted to organise these social dining experiences where I could see my guests enjoying the fruits of my labour, and I could engage with them too,” he explains, which is something he did not get the opportunity to do as a chef in a hotel.

“I like the social aspect of these dining experiences, and I can get to know different people from all over the world.”

Alessandro now works full-time in his home restaurant. The success of his venture, he says, is owed in part to the fresh ingredients he uses in his dishes, allowing the flavors to speak for themselves. Because of this, he advises to-be hosts to “buy the best ingredients and the best wines; make sure your passion comes through your dishes.”

Putting people first

From Hotel Chef To Home Cook, Alessandro Shares His Journey To Social Dining

As any good host knows, the dishes are only the beginning. To make sure his guests feel at home (particularly important in a home restaurant), Alessandro emphasizes the use of people-skills, telling us to “take an interest in the lives and the experiences of the guests, as they have travelled from all over the world to taste the Italian dishes I grew up with.”

The best way to experience a new country is to taste the dishes borne of family tradition. Host Alessandro wants to help you experience the Rome with dishes handed down by his mother, and his grandmother, and for you to take a little taste of Italy back with you.

Alessandro’s favourite dish

My favourite dish is spaghetti with mussels. This is the recipe:

  • Clean the mussels, put them into a pan with garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and chili pepper.
  • Cook covered until they are opened.
  • In another pan, put fresh tomatoes,  garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cook covered for about 5 minutes, add the mussels and a part of their liquid, previously filtered.
  • Cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Cook the pasta in salted water, drain it al dente and toss in pan with the sauce, adding the remaining liquid from the mussels if necessary.

Over to you

Want to enjoy a truly Roman feast with a view of the Vatican City? You can book a seat at Alessandro’s home restaurant over here.

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

Eating out has become a spectator sport: the buttoned-up chef has become the star, with patrons lining the halls in hopes of a table at this year’s hottest restaurant. While farm-to-table-molecular-gastronomy trends are tempting, the truth is that the best food is still usually found at home.

In fact, your next best meal is likely hidden away behind a simple front door. Here are 6 reasons why your next fine dining experience will most probably be at home.

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1. Rise of the pop-up dinner

With a focus on speed and precision, professional kitchens can feel more like well-oiled machines rather than centers of artistic freedom. Now, chefs are moving out of the fast paced environment in order to focus on quality rather than the number of meals they have to deliver in a single evening.

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

Hence the rise of the pop-up dinner, which is usually hosted at home. The temporary nature of pop-ups gives chefs the creative space to constantly re-invent menus without having to worry about covering the rent on a brick-and-mortar restaurant space.

This way, you know for sure that the food in front of you was borne from passion, rather than a paycheck.

2. When in Rome, eat with the Romans

When visiting a major city, it can be easy to get a bad meal. Even TripAdvisor sometimes gets it wrong. High turnover from tourists who come and go frequently can lead to lackluster offerings at local restaurants.

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

For this reason, you’ll have a far better chance of trying the best local foods in Rome if you actually eat with the Romans. In a Roman kitchen, you’ll not only be able to help prepare the meal, you’ll also have the benefit of dining without a tourist menu (or a tourist) in sight.

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3. No hidden ingredients

Between food blogs, cookbooks, and online instructions, all the information you need to construct a gourmet meal at home is literally at your fingertips. With sous-vides for sale on Amazon, even the most high-tech kitchen tools are within reach. The space between the professional kitchen and your own dining room table has shortened, meaning you no longer have to rely on cooks hidden out of view.

Choosing a home restaurant means you know exactly how much of what goes into your dish. Plus, you can leave with the recipe to recreate the meal any time – no dress code required.

4. Demystifying the plate

Not very confident in the kitchen? You can now take a class with an experienced home cook to beef up on your culinary skills (and eat it, too). Once you have chopped, sautéed, and served, you will find that meals are about more than just throwing ingredients together.

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

Taking the time to learn from a home chef and sit down to dinner with a local family is the best way to understand a new food culture.

5. Dinner parties without the artifice

Passing on the restaurant reservation is also a practice in ditching the pretense. Without Michelin stars, crisp white linens, or bow-tied waiters in the way, dining at home places the spotlight on the experience without sacrificing the menu.

Home restaurants concentrate on what matters – the food, and the company.

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6. The most exclusive reservation in town

That new restaurant everyone is trying to get in to? Well, literally everyone is going to be there. Why wait months for a meal that has been served to a thousand other instagramming patrons?

Here’s Why Your Next Fine Dining Experience Will Probably Be At Home

Unique dining experiences don’t happen en masse, they happen one-on-one (and preferably on private terraces).

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Ready to try out your first fine dining experience at a home restaurant? Find your city here to get started right away.

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

As a newly minted college graduate, I headed to Italy with my Italian art studies class in the summer of 2001. Our group visited cities such as Pompeii, Rome, Florence, and Venice, and I also detoured to Munich, Germany from Venice on a free day.

While these three weeks were among the best of my life, I experienced massive art overload. On some days, it felt like every other building in Rome was a church, with gelato shops taking up the other half.

If I return (and I’m determined to), I plan to do a lot more non-touristy things such as eat like a local in Rome. Here’s my hit list below.

1. Head over to the Parco Degli Acquedotti

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

The antique stone aqueducts – or waterways – found in this park make for one of the most tranquil spots in the Roman environs. It’s a spot frequented more by the locals as opposed to tourists.

If you want to practice your photography skills, you’ll get an excellent head start right here.

2. Dine with locals

The food in Rome is amazing, but my experience was limited to restaurants. How awesome would it be to dine with actual Roman families and to enjoy authentic, non-touristy food?

You can find unique home restaurants (such as a meal on a rooftop home) with BonAppetour, and then kick back and relax with host families for a truly Italian experience. Their Rome page includes many awesome food experiences happening in the Roman capital.

While most of the tourists are busy rushing to “top-rated restaurants” they’ve seen in their cliché tourist guides -so they can tick off one more item on their “must-do lists”- you can sit down with home-chef Alessandro and enjoy his truly Roman feast overlooking the Vatican City or join a 3 Course Pasta Making Cooking Class in Rome.

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

Don’t worry about language barriers. Many of the hosts speak English – there is always at least one person present who speaks English. Besides, if you are looking to improve your Italian-speaking skills, this is a fantastic opportunity to grab.

3. Go to San Lorenzo

Local culture flourishes in the trendy San Lorenzo neighborhood. College students and alternative forms of art (think graffiti and street art) proliferate here.

4. Explore Rome’s gay culture

Rome has a fabulous gay culture that is fun for all types of people. Clubs such as Glamda will spice up your nightclub experience, and be sure to explore Gay Street, as the gay area of Rome is known. It’s near the Colosseum, and easy to get to.

5. Take in the Municipal Rose Garden of Rome

The Municipal Rose Garden of Rome (Roseto Comunale di Roma in Italian) is another spot that tourists tend to skip. Which is great for you, as it is one of the most enchanting spots in Rome, even if you are not a huge flower lover. But if you are, all the better!

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

Living here are more than 1100 rose varieties donated by many different countries. This is an ideal spot to walk, relax, and catch your breath from the busyness that can be Rome.

6. Watch a film flick at Cinema Farnese

Cinema Farnese is a family-run theater with balcony seating. It’s popular with the locals, and you can choose from both artsy movies and commercial successes. If you want an authentic Italian experience, this is one that you shouldn’t miss.

Show up during a festival or premiere at the movie house, though, and you may also experience a bit of glamour (as well as films in languages other than Italian).

7. Simply wander

One thing I do whenever I am in a new city is to start from somewhere – anywhere – and just walk and wander. It’s one of the best ways to find spots off the beaten path, and to become familiar with a place. You never know what adventures await around the corner.

7 Non-Touristy Things You Should Definitely Do In Rome

If nothing else, walk or bike along Via Appia – and if walking is not your thing, you can still do a spot of wandering via the bus or subway.

Image credits: 1

Best Desserts In Rome: 7 Sweet Spots Not to Be Missed

Best Desserts In Rome: 7 Sweet Spots Not to Be Missed

Dessert-lovers in search of a gastronomic heaven will find their slice of paradise in Rome. Home to not just savory goodness from pasta and pizza, but also a myriad of best desserts that will surely leave the inner sweet tooth satisfied.

There is an incredible array of best dessert places, pastry shops, and bakeries in Rome that will definitely excite enthusiastic foodies keen on embarking on an Italian sweet treats culinary exploration, leaving them spoilt for choice.

No one wants to complain about having too many desserts, but there are only so many sweet treats that someone can stomach. You will have no regrets when you feast on the best, so be sure to make a stopover at these seven spots offering some of the best desserts in Rome.

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1. Pastiera Napoletana

Originating from Naples, the pastiera Napoletana is an Italian tart made with eggs, boiled wheat and ricotta cheese. The crisp pastry of this dessert hides a soft stuffing in a shade of golden yellow. Classic versions of the pastiera Napoletana are flavored with cinnamon and orange flower water, while modern twists to the original version incorporate unique flavors.

Try it: Savour this dessert in the most authentic way with BonAppetour’s Italian host, Simona a slice is sure to leave you yearning for more! As a home chef, she enjoys whipping up regional Italian dishes and taking her guests on a culinary journey to Napoli.

Find out what is Simona up to in her own kitchen now: Pastiera Napoletana with Host Simona

2. Tiramisu

Mmm… the tiramisu. We could go on forever about this delicate dessert that one can never get enough of – how its soft creaminess melts in your mouth, and how the hint of liqueur adds a kick to its rich coffee flavor.The cake, made from ladyfinger biscuits dipped in coffee, is layered with a filling made of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese. It is definitely a crowd pleaser!

Try it: We are quite sure that you do not just want to hear all about how good this dessert tastes – Learn the recipe and try it for yourself when you dine with our host Francesca in Rome! Apart from desserts, she loves hosting and preparing traditional Italian meals for her guests. She believes that the wide variety of Italian food reflects her country’s cultures, dialects and heritage, which she is so passionate about.

Find out what is Francesca up to in her own kitchen now: Tiramisu with host Francesca

3. Sweet Salami with Hazelnut Cream

A glance at this dessert from afar, and one might be fooled into thinking that this log-shaped treat is a smoked meat meant to be served alongside a platter of savory cheeses. Peer closely, and you will find that slices of this dessert are colored in a deep, chocolate-brown hue, and studded with light brown flecks. Rome travelers who do not want to miss out on this.

Try it: Sample this intriguing treat will have your sugar cravings satisfied at a sumptuous dinner with our BonAppetour host, Alessandro! Experienced as a host, he is known to whip up a wide variety of dishes and desserts that will satisfy everyone’s craving. Did we mention that he serves wine at his dinners too?

Find out what is Alessandro up to in his own kitchen now: Sweet Salami with Hazelnut Cream at Alessandro’s

4. Gelato

Rome travelers with a love for icy treats must not miss out on making a stop by Fata Morgana. Located in the neighborhood of Salario-Trieste, vacation makers will find the store situated along a street from the popular Villa Ada park.

Gelato lovers who are adamant about sticking to traditional flavors will not be disappointed with the classic choices available at Fata Morgana, for you cannot go wrong with chocolate or pistachio and cream. Those with an adventurous palate will be keen to try a range of exotic flavors, such as a refreshing mojito mint and lime, tart blueberry cheesecake and intriguing-sounding rice pudding gelato.

Gelato from Fata Morgana does not only taste good – it is also made with wholesome ingredients. No colorings, gluten or chemicals are used in making its selection of top-quality gelatos.

Find out more now: Gelato at Fata Morgana

5. Ricotta Cannoli

Looking for a dessert to complete your meal? Everyone in Rome has to try this traditional Sicilian pastry dessert – Cannoli. The tube-shaped shells of the cannoli are made from frying pastry dough, before being filled with a sweet ricotta cream. The Ricotta Cannoli at I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza has proven to be a huge hit with locals and travelers. It is not overly sweet and the crisps of the pastry complement the dessert just nicely. Made in bite-sized portions, one is never enough.

Nestled in the corner by the road, the store is located at a perfect spot for anyone looking for a small snack while traveling around. So, be sure to make this place one of your must-try stops.

Find out more now: Ricotta Cannoli at I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza

6. Torta Caprese

Chocoholics will find their slice of paradise at Said. Located in the San Lorenzo district of Rome, this chocolate bar has a longstanding history. Starting out as a chocolate factory dating back to 1923, Said has not stopped producing a fine selection of decadent treats ever since.

Be sure not to miss out on savoring a slice of delicious Torta Caprese, a rich cake made from chocolate and almonds. Do leave some space in your dessert stomach to savor the variety of truffles and torrones sold at the store.

Find out more now: Torta Caprese at Said

7. Cornetto

We are not quite sure if we would call the cornetto a dessert. A popular breakfast item among the Italians, the cornetto is the Italian variation of a croissant. Compared to the french variety, the cornetto is less buttery and flaky and has a greater density. This simple and delicious treat comes in many forms – it may be dusted with a sprinkling of sugar, glazed with a sticky syrup, or stuffed with Nutella, pastry cream or marmalade.

Travelers in Rome in search of a lovely cornetto to kick start their mornings should make a stop by Caffè Barberini. Do not let the nondescript setting of the cafe fool you, for it serves up one of the best cornettos in the city. Be sure it enjoy this delight the Italian way – order a plain cornetto, and dunk it into your cappuccino. Yum.

Find out more now: Cornetto at Caffè Barberini

Image Credits: Bash and Chop, Luciano Pignataro, My Italian Smorgasbord, Gialloza Afferano, From My Sweetheart, Kayture

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