In Rome, lunch is my favorite meal of the day. There are tons of options for food in the blocks surrounding school. Pizza, sandwiches, cafeteria-style eateries, and even falafel are some of the walkable options. I have two favorites.
Most days, I go to the alimentari. This is like a deli, where you can order sandwiches, but there’s also fruit, drinks, and snacks, so it’s like a little grocery store. It can get really busy during lunch hour, as many students from the Italian architecture school nearby like the spot as well. And if you aren’t already with friends, you’re bound to see someone you know there. All the people that work there are really friendly. The very first day I went in, the guy in charge said, “Today in English, but tomorrow in Italian.” And he’s definitely kept his word. I always have a chance to practice my Italian at the alimentari. And just this past week, because of my continued allegiance to the store, the man that always takes my order introduced himself to me. I guess he felt that making a sandwich for me everyday necessitated a more intimate relationship. This is perhaps a bit embarrassing because of the frequency with which I visit, but I considered it a personal triumph nonetheless.
My other favorite lunch spot is Alice Pizza, a popular chain in Rome with one outpost conveniently located directly adjacent to the alimentari. There are many pizza places with the same concept as Alice – that is they have huge squares pizzas with different toppings, and you tell them (or point, often in my case) which ones you want and how much. Then, they cut the desired size and charge you according to the weight. Despite the number of places near school that run the same type of operation, I think Alice surpasses them all in taste by a landslide. My absolute favorite kind is the mushroom, or funghi, pizza; I think I’ve even had a few dreams about it. This place can also get really crowded around 1pm. It took me a few weeks to realize that you’re supposed to grab a number outside before you come in, and I looked pretty dumb for the first month until I realized how the process worked. You can eat in the tiny hallway of a restaurant, or they can wrap it up for you to take away, which I prefer.
In theory, I want to explore the other lunch options available to me, but I can’t seem to pull myself away from these two offerings. Lunch is so easy and delicious and I look forward to the meal every weekday. The best part is that all the options are pretty cheap. My signature sandwich (prosciutto crudo e formaggio) costs 2.20 euro and pizza isn’t usually more than 3 euros. I’ll definitely miss lunch like this when I’m back in the states!