1. Gioletti Gelato con Panna: Life changing. Definitely the best gelato in Rome (Thanks for the recommendation Liz Doe!). Luckily, Natale in Lecce is a solid number 2 and they even have Cat’s favorite flavor (check out number 2 below).
2. Pastichotto: A typical breakfast pastry from the Salento filled with cream (Cat’s favorite and also a gelato flavor!).
3. Margherita DOP pizza: Torre de Merlino is our favorite restaurant near our apartment and the pizza is superb. The crust is doughy yet cooked through – we’ve been there twice and still don’t know how they do it.
4. Paninis: Especially from Salumeria, located near the Parthenon in Rome. These simple, yet delicious sandwiches can be found almost everywhere and there is also something distinctly comforting about not being the only person at the beach going to town on a giant sandwich – must be an Italian thing!
5. Handmade orecchiette: It takes time to make, but this typical pasta of Puglia is amazing – even if made by novice hands.
6. Mussels a la The Awaiting Table: Roasted garlic, white wine, chili pepper flakes and parsley – so simple yet so good. John has yet to decide if he prefers eating a kilo of mussels piled high over crusty bread or the pleasure he gets after ordering them in Italian at the local pescheria.
7. Italian coffee: Any kind but we prefer it over ice with almond syrup, also known as a cafe in ghiaccio con il latte de mandorla.
8. Wild arugula: It’s different from what you find in the U.S. and John is obsessed.
9. Olive oil: The real stuff, ask us later but believe it or not the olive oil you buy in the store is not what you think it is. We put it on everything – we might try it on pancakes (if we can find someone here who knows what a pancake is).
10. Carbonara: So easy that a couple of Yankees can make it well. Some say the name comes from the black pepper resembling coal flakes while the more patriotic set credit the dish to allied troops distributing food rations of powdered eggs and bacon to starving Roman families. Unsurprisingly, John preferred to give the credit to the American GIs.