Rome – pinsa and gelato in Sallustiano

Sallustiano is a district about 15-20 minutes’ walk west of Termini station or due north from the Hotel Columbia. Neighbourhood map here. Map of all Rome here.

You could make a great takeaway lunch out of a slice of pinsa (a healthier and more ancient alternative to pizza) balanced out by a decadent gelato (the creamiest in town) but I’ll start with this trattoria, a rare bargain in an expensive city…

Cantina Cantarini (Elementary B+), 12 Piazza Sallustio, www.ristorantecantinacantarini.it, closed Sunday

This small hole in the wall trattoria specialises in food from the owner’s native region, Le Marche, as well as the Roman classics. From Monday to Wednesday and Thursday lunch the menu is strictly meat-based but for Thursday dinner and Fridays and Saturdays at lunch and dinner, it’s fish and seafood. In the summer you can sit outside on the pavement.

Having eaten earlier, I wasn’t very hungry when I came so I restricted myself to a single plate of Spaghetti ai Moscardini (a kind of octopus in tomato sauce) which was pretty good (B). It’s really cheap too, you could have three courses for under €30 before drinks. Will definitely be back.

Or if you prefer a takeaway…

Pinsere (Elementary A+) at 98 Via Flavia, www.facebook.com/Pinsere, only open on weekdays, until 4pm

Pinsa is an ancient oval-shaped flatbread with origins in Roman times (it’s mentioned in Virgil’s Aeneid), thereby predating pizza. Historically it was made with a mixture of water, millet, barley and oats, and later spelt. Modern recipes may include wheat, soy or rice flour. The dough is proved for a longer time than pizza dough and has less salt, lower fat and fewer calories. The multi-grain bread is supposed to be easier to digest as well. Having tried it here, I don’t know why it hasn’t replaced pizza completely.

Pinsere is perhaps the most famous place to eat pinsa in Rome. It was certainly very busy with local office workers when I went for lunch (it’s closed in the evenings and at weekends). You can’t sit down but there are shelves inside and outside the shop which you can stand at. The toppings are seasonal and change quickly. There are so many delicious combinations to try but I plumped for the artichoke flower, cooked ham and ricotta variety.

If you’d rather sit down or eat in the evenings, there’s another pinseria a few streets away…

Habemus Pinsa (Elementary B), 19 Via Umbria, habemuspinsa.it

This is a plain place which I found just by googling ‘pinsa’. As it doesn’t have so many customers, the staff are a bit friendlier and less stressed. The pinsa isn’t quite as nice as Pinsere’s but it’s still pretty good. I went for the classic tomato, basil, and buffalo mozzarella. They also do fritti, I had their carbonara and diavola versions which were good (B).

After pinsa at Pinsere it’s just a short walk for dessert…

Come il Latte (Elementary A), 24/26 Via Silvio Spaventa, www.comeillatte.it

‘Like Milk’ was a strong contender for ‘best gelateria in Rome’ when I was there in 2018. The boast is that their gelato is 70% cream, much higher than other places.

It certainly is very thick and creamy but what makes it for me is the chocolate fountain that pours both dark and white chocolate sauces. I can recommend the Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate combo with dark sauce in the cone and white sauce on the top. Video here.

And just up the road, they have a bit of competition…

Gelateria La Romana (Elementary A), 60 Via Venti Settembre, www.gelateriaromana.com

Another contender for ‘the best ice cream place in the city’. I wouldn’t like to call it without further research. And they have a chocolate fountain as well…

Here’s my depiction of the Italian national flag in ice cream form.

Next, more food…

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