Letter from Rome

Justin Livingston, elegant retiree (see 10 Food Question) is spending a month living in the Vittoria area in Rome.  Here is his Roman food story.


Justin Livingston
Justin Livingston

I am staying in the Vittoria area, north of the Vatican and near Piazza Mazzini. This was a working class area, but is becoming trendy, but as yet untouristy.

Street in Vittoria area

The large covered Trionfale Market is about a 15 minute walk  from my apartment and was recommend by my Roman landlord. There is a fantastic availability of fresh food – vegetables, fruit, cheese, bread and pasta. I buy the half green tomatoes which are so full of sunny flavour, as well as the reddest strawberries I have ever seen.


Fresh fruit at the Trionfale market


Because I don’t have an oven in the flat, I make dishes which I can saute on hotplates as well as salads. There is a fantastic array of fresh food, so this is not a problem. I have braised fennel, cooked delicious Italian sausages and made fiori di zuccha (stuffed zucchini flowers).

Buying cheese at the market
Buying cheese at the market

If not eating at home, I go to my local pizzeria/hostaria the Giacomelli. This is a family restaurant and absolutely full of locals. It is atmospheric, not expensive and not haute cuisine, but perfect if you are eating alone as a traveller.
Pizzeria Giacomelli

I ate there last night and had a lovely pizza with peas, artichoke, suasage and mozzerella. There is a huge range of pizzas, as well as the usual beef, veal and chicken dishes. The Padrona and her daughter are front of house, with Signora Giacomelli taking the money as people leave and her daughter Cristiana greeting customers, most of whom she knows, as they arrive.

Signora Giacomelli
Signora Giacomelli

The restaurant has been there since 1945 and is always busy with good service and a lively atmosphere. It’s just the sort of experience I wanted to have by staying here for a few weeks, longer than I have ever done before.
My shopping from the market
My shopping from the market

Justin Livingston – 10 Food Questions

Justin Livingston - elegant retiree and international traveller
Justin Livingston – elegant retiree and international traveller
  1. Food for you is what?  For me is a major part of the enjoyment of life and people. Whether it is eating in with company (my favourite) or dining out in a  restaurant or even dining in  alone – less keen on dining out alone. It is the sharing of one of life’s best experiences, not just taking in the (frequently more than) necessary calories….
  2. What was your favourite food/meal as a child?  My favourite meal was the few times in the year when our mother would roast one of our own truly free-range chickens – a luxury in the 50’s. I have never tasted as good since.
  3. What did you have for dinner last night?  Last night I ate in alone – prior to watching the Serena Williams in action at the Brisbane International.  Sauteed chicken breasts with some rosemary underneath slices of bacon,  accompanied by potatoes and onions roasted together, asparagus and baby marrows – it was pretty OK. Leftovers in the freezer.
  4. Favourite restaurant?  In Brisbane my favourite restaurant would have to be Montrachet. Truly professional with good French food and great personal service. Second would be Anise.
  5. Do you grow food, and if so, what? I don’t grow food on my small balcony here in Brisbane. In my flat in London I grow basil and rosemary in pots.
  6. Local hidden gem? Brot Patisserie on Waterworks Road, Ashgrove. Very good baked on site German bread and wonderful cakes and pastries.
  7. Your favourite food shop? Sammie’s Girl for fish and James Street Butchers for the best sausages.
  8. What do you hope never to eat again?  Brains. Something about the texture and the richness. Otherwise I am pretty much an omnivore. Than you Dad – for a father of the 40’s he had a very broad palate.
  9. How often do you cook?  I cook every day. Evening is my main meal, alone or with company, no difference. Less wine on my own, but no abstinence.
  10. Most used cookbook?  In the past my most used books were Elizabeth David’s. Now I’m spoilt for choice. On my own, I would rarely use a book, but since retirement, I am more likely to use one to try something new. I like Jamie Oliver’s relaxed style of Italianesque cooking, Nigel Slater’s old fashioned English stuff, Nigella Lawson’s desserts – I am lazy about desserts though.