As regular readers of olive will know, we value local knowledge highly when it comes to our travel features, using the best food writers in the best food destinations to put together our guides. Many of these writers have great stories to share so, in this new series of posts, we thought we’d do exactly that. First up is southern Italy expert, Gina Tringali.
Gina is the founder of GT Food & Travel and Casa Mia–Italy Food & Wine Tours. Born into an Italian-American family, Gina spent countless hours in the kitchens of her mother and Neapolitan and Sicilian grandmothers, watching, cooking and tasting. Having been part of the team that spearheaded Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft restaurant expansion, she moved to Rome in 2007. Earning a master’s degree in Italian Gastronomic Culture, and sommelier certification with Associazione Italiana Sommelier, she then worked as a culinary guide and tourism consultant.
Gina founded GT Food & Travel (running food and wine tours of Rome) and Casa Mia – Italy Food & Wine Tours (running bespoke food and wine experiences throughout Italy) and writes about the region’s food for publications such as Condé Nast Traveler. She also runs her own southern Italian food blog GT Food & Travel.
Describe your blog…
It’s a mix of recipes, food and family memories, and dining and drinking tips. I was inspired to set it up to keep a diary of my new life in Rome, and to connect my discoveries and adventures with my Italian-American roots; having Sicilian and Neapolitan grandparents meant I was naturally drawn to these two places.
My three favourite restaurants in Rome are…
At trattoria Cesare al Casaletto order a mix of fried starters including anchovies, totani (squid), meatballs topped with pesto, and eggplant croquettes topped with spicy tomato sauce. For a first course, try the gnocchi with tomato and basil sauce or pasta with baccala, pecorino cheese and mint. For main courses, order lamb chops or trippa alla romana. And leave room for panna cotta for dessert.
In Testaccio, Agustarello is a friendly, family-run trattoria. For pasta order cavatelli with cicoria or Roman classics like cacio e pepe or amatriciana. For second courses the coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew in the ‘butcher’s style’) and involtini stuffed with misticanza are good. Ask for co-owner Antonella’s homemade crostata with black cherry jam for dessert.
I love Osteria dell’Arco for many reasons, mostly because after living in Rome for eight years I crave other regional food. The menu changes regularly and I always order something different, but some of my favorite dishes are vermicelli pasta with butter, anchovies and bottarga (cured fish roe), roasted guinea hen stuffed with chestnuts in a sauce made with whole grapes, and castagnaccio, a traditional Tuscan chestnut-flour cake.
I love eating out at…
Cave Ox in Sicily because Sandro and Lucia make authentic Sicilian food with seasonal ingredients. Couple that with a homely vibe and an outstanding wine list. My favorite dishes are whatever the pasta is that Lucia created that day, like tagliatelle with zucchine and lemon zest.
When I’m not blogging I’m….
Running, baking, cooking, discovering new vineyards or organising wine tastings in NYC and Boston.
In my fridge there are always…
Capers from Pantelleria, canned vinegar peppers that I make yearly, ragusano cheese, a bowl of whatever fruit is in season, lemons, sun-dried tomatoes, amaro sibilia (a bitter after-dinner drink made from herbs and honey) and fresh chili peppers.
My guilty pleasure food is…
Natural peanut butter.
My most-used cookbook is…
Think Like a Chef by Tom Colicchio because although Tom provides recipes, he focuses on the techniques of roasting, braising, blanching and stock and sauce making. Essentially it helped me to ‘think like a chef’ and gives me the freedom to visit a food market, choose from seasonal fresh ingredients and decide on the spot how I’ll cook them rather than check off ingredients on a recipe list. It makes cooking fun and creative rather than regimented.
Food trends I see sticking around in Rome are…
The growth of gourmet and traditional street food, craft beer producers and natural wines makers and travel experiences with a ‘local’ including in-home dining experiences, custom food tours and itineraries.
A place I love that not many people know about is…
Les Vignerons. I’m a natural wine lover and Antonio and Marisa have the best selection of natural wine and beer in Rome.
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Main image: photographer Andrea Di Lorenzo
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