Several years ago, an idea itched in my head. I wanted to create a little black book -- you know, the kind guys had in their back pockets in the 1950s -- for my friends coming to Rome. Even though I really wanted to write a listing of all the men I knew with accompanying details like "wipes nose with hands", "Dasha's boxer kisses better" and "waxes. punto", I settled for a personal compendium of restaurants, shops and bars, thanks to a hand-written Rome itinerary I once penned for my college friend Little Booty B. That was 2005 when smart phones were not too smart, just sending emails and checking the weather on a handheld device was satisfying. It was a time when people walked into book stores, enjoyed writing notes and paper was still en vogue. The DL on restaurants was confirmed by long-awaited reviews, friends in passing and often by experience. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Six years later and ink is going out of style. Digital is it. Though I lovingly retired my little black book, and whole-heartedly prefer my publications "real" [ah, the touch, the smell!], I love the instant gratification of technology, especially from virtual foodies.
Rome is under revolution-- and not just inspired by Mr. B. Over the past year, Rome-based food bloggers have multiplied and restaurants have opened, renovated and rebranded. It would be hard to keep up if it weren't for the bloggers who are fervently writing the finer details of every kind of Roman eatery- from chic to street. And it almost seems as if restaurants trying to keep up by updating menus, stylish interior design, and hell, aperitivo hour. Chicken or the Egg conundrum.
This city has been made digitally tascabile (pocket-sized) time over, but until recently no one has focused solely on its restaurants. Finally, Katie Parla (author of Parla Food which breaks down Rome [plus Istanbul and London) eateries about as fast as Wimpy eats hamburgers) has launched the app Parla Food: Rome. I don't know if it's because I like the name (for those who don't speak Italian, it's a double entrendre for food talk) or it's price (i.e. free), but I am digging this web-based app. Parla Food: Rome covers over 200 places to eat, imbibe and purchase within the GRA, which could potentially explode in number when the native app is unleashed later this summer. Tip: Parla has a penchant for pork and pizza, so if you do as well, it would be wise to find her favorites.
On the small screen, and by that, I mean your iPhone, smart phone, iPad or less important tablet, is Elizabeth Minchilli's Eat Rome. I know, I know, the name is great. It conjures up images of running rampant through the Eternal City with your mouth wide open, which is essentially what you can do with this app. Minchilli is a delectable food blogger, photographer and author who has encapsulated Rome's foodie scene for $2.99. For those in fear of international roaming fees, Minchilli has an easy answer: download in advance.
Suffice to say, Minchilli and Parla have digitally scratched my aforementioned itch. Both have successfully put the Rome food scene in my (and your) purse and pocket, easily accessible and updatable. However, if you must have paper, and darling, that is a big must, I've recently been reading the beautifully designed (I love you, Louise Fili!) and written Terroir Series: Rome, by David Downie, for those who prefer haute and all cuisine in lo fi.