Rome Chow-Down Showdown: Can the Little Guys Survive?

Rome has some of the best food in the world. If you doubt the veracity of that statement please pick up a copy of my book FOOD WINE ROME and test drive it. Then we'll talk. There are hundreds of excellent restaurants, trattorias, osterias and other eating establishments in town, not to mention hundreds of small delis, fruit and vegetable shops, cheese shops, open markets, covered markets, chocolate makers, ice cream makers and on and on and on.

So along comes EATALY, the high-end faux artisan food and restaurant mall that has spread across the globe and is backed by all the superstar chefs and food producers and, this is key, by Slow Food.

But Rome does not need EATALY. This mall while preaching that it is the best thing yet since sliced panem and is needed to preserve the artisan food culture of Italy… this mall is all about destroying that culture.

Read my polemic in my latest column on Here's the lede and a link. Buon appetito and don't be hoodwinked by the celebs!

Buffalo Rome: Mozzarella, Martians and Culinary Crusaders on

I was staring, mesmerized, my mouth watering at a giant mozzarella. The elastic curd was submerged in a giant bowl of cold water in my favorite small, family-run specialty food store in Rome. The bowl was shaped like a huge puckered blossom. It sat atop a glinting counter at E. Volpetti & C. on Via Marmorata near the Pyramid of Cestius in the Testaccio neighborhood in southern-central Rome.

The archetypal Aladdin's Cavern of gastronomy, Volpetti is a place of secular pilgrimage for savvy foodies but also for normal, food-loving, unpretentious Romans.

Dozens of hams were displayed in cubby-holes, the archives of porcine paradise waiting to be sliced to order by bona fide prosciutto experts. Jowl bacon and smoked pancetta dangled like headhunters' trophies. Jars of artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and slices of eggplant towered over the human scrum at the counter. Baskets brimmed with gnarled white truffles worth their weight in silver, truffles so nose-tickling that I nearly swooned of airborne gluttony…

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