How To Gain 50 Pounds in 48 Hours: A Guide to Some of Rome’s Tastiest Places

The sun going down as the lights come up on St. Peter's Basilica, from the roof terrace of Patrick and Kristina's penthouse

At a cocktail party on Martha’s Vineyard last summer, nightlife mogul Patrick Lyons announced to me, with his trademark Cheshire Cat grin, that he and his wife Kristina were moving to Rome for the year with their kids. It was a sabbatical, of sorts. An adventure. 21st century American ex-pats in the Eternal City, following in the footsteps of Shelley and whatnot.

Recognizing a sybaritic opportunity when I see one, I said I’d be coming to visit, especially when I learned they’d be ensconced in a penthouse within spitting distance of the Piazza Navona.

Lyons has hit more home runs than worm-burners in the nightclub and restaurant business, on both coasts and in numerous genres, so he knows a thing or two about good food and wine, but the way he’s stayed at the top of the hospitality heap is by remaining a lifelong student, and he attacked the classroom of Rome like the geeks at MIT descending on a symposium led by Bill Gates.

Patrick sampling a wine from the Piedmont

The following is a list of the places he and Kristina took me on my two-day visit, and the fact that the top button of my pants is open as I type this is proof that I’ve never eaten better in my life. However, for me, the absolute highlight was the cooking class Patrick sent me to with his friend, Fabio Bongianni.

I met Bongianni in the Jewish ghetto and we nibbled our way over to Campo di Fiori, where we bought the ingredients we needed. Back at his house (The penultimate floor of a princess’ palace), six of us (from South Africa, Holland, Spain and the U.K.) prepared bruschetta, zucchini ravioli, cavatelli with asparagus and a transcendant chicken with roast potatoes, then ate it (and licked the plates clean).

So thanks for the foodie tour of Rome, Patrick. I’ll be forwarding the bill for my gym membership to you.

Fresh produce in Campo di Fiori

The Fabulous Fabio

Buon Appetito!


Originally a gourmet shop, this vineria and salumeria serves one of the finest lunches in Italy.


An old-school hole in the wall where they do something positively wicked with potatoes and truffles.

Bar del Fico

This funky bohemian cocktail bar and bistro serves Italian classics as well as steaks and other carnivorous delights you’d pay a fortune for in the States.

Trattoria dal Cav. Gino

A tad touristy but tasty nonetheless.


Trip Advisor’s top-ranked restaurant of any kind (out of 2,440) in Rome. It’s the best damn gelato you’ve ever tasted.


A worthy competitor to Frigidarium.

Il Caffe Sant Eustachio

One of the coffee houses that Howard Schultz studied for months before starting Starbucks.

Il Caffe Tazza D’Oro




Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.