Ciao! I have been in Rome 3 days and am already in love with the city. The beauty and charm of this historic place have cast me into a dream I am afraid I might suddenly wake up from. My favorite part is the prominence of food in Rome and Italian culture. Its importance is evident in the number of food markets that line the streets and are scattered throughout the city. Bars (the equivalent of cafés), trattorias, and ristorantes are everywhere you look, often with food displays set outside to lure in passerbys.
I was excited to finally get my first authentic Italian restaurant dining experience. While it ended up being good, it was not what I was originally hoping for. You see, I have been preparing for my journey abroad for a few months by pouring over Italian food blogs and making a master list of the restaurants I wanted to try (I have a restaurant bucket list for Philadelphia and several other cities as well). I originally thought I was going to get to try one of the places on my list for my first dinner out in Rome, but that did not end up being the case. Instead, I ate at Terno Secco Ristorante Pizzeria.
Terno Secco is along the way from the residence to Temple’s Rome campus. My friends and I had reached the point of hunger where we would have eaten just about anything, but luckily we did not have to settle for mediocrity. Terno Secco had a full menu with smaller antipasti dishes, pastas, meat courses, and a long list of pizzas, all of which were within our price range. As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by our server and brought to a table in the center of the bright green room. We passed the antipasti buffet table and wall of celebrity patrons and were seated next to the ham slicing machine, which we saw used throughout the night to make cold cuts of meat for other tables. We were in a prime spot for observing other diners (all of whom were Italian) and for looking at the wood fire pizza oven get utilized.
Immediately, a basket of house made bread was brought to the table. We made the mistake of diving in and eating the bread. While it tasted wonderful, especially given our intense hunger, it was not complimentary like most bread baskets are in the United States. We ended up having to pay 2 euro for it.
Unlike every other table, which were all covered in multiple plates of antipasti, my friends and I chose to only order 1 main course to limit the damage to our wallets. I ordered the pappardelle verde e funghi porcini (green pappardelle pasta with porcini mushrooms), while both of my friends ordered the pizza caprese.
The pizza ended up being the wiser choice. Each was about a foot in diameter of ultra thin crust with chunks of fresh mozzarella, halved juicy cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves all drizzled with olive oil. They were truly delicious pizzas, so much fresher and lighter than pizza in the United States.
My pasta dish was fresh as well. In fact, I saw the waiter bring the pasta into the kitchen from off of the showcase table in the center of the dining room where they display their homemade ingredients. It was satisfying to know that we were having a quality meal.
The service had been excellent throughout the meal and when it was clear we were done ordering food, we assumed the check would be brought over. We ended up waiting several minutes without receiving a check and with no sign of getting one. We were in no hurry but were simply surprised at the lack of urgency to flip tables that is present in almost all American establishments. They were perfectly fine with us occupying their table and socializing as long as we wished. In fact, they assumed we would stay longer since in Italy, a meal customarily lasts several hours.
While Terno Secco was not where I had originally envisioned my first Roman meal taking place, it was an excellent meal that has me even more excited for future dining experiences in this wonderful city. Hopefully next time I’ll remember to not eat from the bread basket!