No Reservations ~ Rome

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Anthony Bourdain visits Rome for the first time in this episode.  He’s been to Italy many times but he’s always wanted to go to Rome.  This episode is filmed entirely in black and white to honor what Anthony says is the classic feel from the 1960’s Fellini films and history that is a part of Rome.  He dines on classic Italian dishes and adopts the mindset of the Roman people–living a simple life and eating fresh, seasonal ingredients.


Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune.  The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.

Rome's history spans over two and a half thousand years.  It was the capital city of the Roman Kingdom, the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Western Europe and the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea for over seven hundred years from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD.  Since the 1st century AD, Rome has been the seat of the Papacy and, after the end of Byzantine domination, in the 8th century it became the capital of the Papal States, which lasted until 1870.  In 1871 Rome became the capital of the Kingdom of Italy, and in 1946 that of the Italian Republic.

After the Middle Ages, Rome was ruled by popes such as Alexander VI and Leo X, who transformed the city into one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, along with Florence.  The current-day version of St Peter's Basilica was built and the Sistine Chapel was painted by Michelangelo.  Famous artists and architects, such as Bramante, Bernini and Raphael resided for some time in Rome, contributing to its Renaissance and Baroque architecture.


Rome is currently an alpha-world city, along with Chicago, Istanbul, Frankfurt, Athens, Zurich, Mexico City, Prague, Budapest, Amsterdam, Vienna and Dublin, to name a few.  Rome was in 2008, also ranked 15th out of all the cities of the world for global importance, mainly for cultural experience.  The city produces 6.7% of the national GDP (more than any other single city in Italy).  Although the economy of Rome is characterised by the absence of heavy industry and it is largely dominated by services, high-technology companies (IT, aerospace, defence, telecommunications), research, construction and commercial activities (especially banking), and the huge development of tourism are very dynamic and extremely important to its economy.


In mid-2010, there were 2.75 million residents in the city proper, while some 4.2 million people lived in the greater Rome area.  Nearly 10% of the population consists of non-Italians.  

The bulk of immigrants are those of various other European origins (chiefly Romanians, Polish, Ukrainians, and Albanians) numbering a combined total of 131,118 or 4.7% of the population and almost one half of the total immigrant population.  The remaining 4.8% are those with non-European origins chiefly Filipinos: 26,933, Bangladeshis: 12,154, Peruvians: 10,530, Chinese: 10,283, and other nationalities.  Hundreds of Romani gypsies live in illegal trailer camps on the city's outskirts.

Culture & Tourism:

In 2007 Rome was the 11th-most-visited city in the world, 3rd most visited in the European Union, and the most popular tourist attraction in Italy.  Its historic centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  Monuments and museums such as the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum are amongst the world's 50 most visited tourist destinations (the Vatican Museums receiving 4.2 million tourists and the Colosseum receiving 4 million tourists every year).  

Rome is also widely recognized as a world fashion capital.  Rome is the world's 4th most important center for fashion in the world, after Milan, New York and Paris, and beating London.  Rome is also home to the Cinecittà Studios, the largest film and television production facility in continental Europe and the centre of the Italian cinema, where a large number of today's biggest box office hits are filmed.  The 99-acre studio complex is 5.6 miles from the centre of Rome and is part of one of the biggest production communities in the world, second only to Hollywood.

Modern Roman Cuisine:

Rome's cuisine has evolved through centuries and periods of social, cultural, and political changes.  Rome became a major gastronomical centre during Ancient Rome.  Ancient Roman Cuisine was highly influenced by Ancient Greek culture, and after, the empire's enormous expansion exposed Romans to many new, provincial culinary habits and cooking techniques.  Later, during the Renaissance, Rome became well-known as a centre of high-cuisine, since some of the best chefs of the time, worked for the popes.

Today, the city is home to numerous formidable and traditional Italian dishes.  Modern Roman cuisine is based on seasonal ingredients coming most from Roman Campagna, and prepared in a simple way.  Among these, the most important are vegetables (typical are peas, Globe artichokes and fava beans), meat (milk lamb and goat) and cheeses (Pecorino romano and ricotta).  There is a considerable Jewish influence in Roman cuisine, as Jews have lived in Rome since the 1st century BCE.  Such include the carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes) and Jewish courgettes (suffed zucchini).

Episode Recap:

Anthony Bourdain finally gets to live out his cinematic Roman fantasy.

In scenes reminiscent of a Fellini movie, Anthony strolls along ancient cobblestone streets, transporting us to the glamorous age of the Italian black and white cinema of the 1960s.  Anthony is so chic, so sexy, so like the Italian he's always wanted to be against the strikingly beautiful lines of the Roman architecture.  And so it goes for the duration of this episode of No Reservations.  When not strolling alone down some ancient street, Anthony is either driving a sleek classic Italian sports car around Rome or dining at a chic cafe or elegant restaurant.

Harry's Bar:   Against the backdrop of a photo shot and surrounded by socialites, Anthony sits at an outdoor table sipping a cocktail in front of Harry's Bar on the trendy and glamorous Via Veneto.  He certainly looks the part of the leading man dressed in a white shirt and trim black suit and tie—a classic combination, chic and elegant as his own cameraman calls to Anthony to look his way, one more time.

Harry's Bar gained international fame when it was featured in director Federico Fellini's classic 1960 film La Dolce Vita.  It still operates today as a bar and restaurant, and attracts an upscale Roman and international crowd (at times celebrities) who can afford the expensive prices.

Ristorante Roma Sparita:   Anthony stops at Ristorante Roma Sparita for what Romans have adopted as their modern favorite—a pasta dish known as cacio e pepe ("cheese and pepper").  This is an old Roman recipe that has always been a favorite of poor and rich alike.  It is incredibly simple and quick to prepare, but depends on having good-quality Pecorino Romano, a tangy aged sheep's-milk cheese originally from Rome, pasta, and lots of fragrant peppercorns.

Trevi Fountain:   Anthony happens upon the Trevi Fountain where he has a bit of an existential moment involving a mime artist.  Fortunately, his good friend from NYC, author and celebrity chef Cesare Casella, arrives to rescue Anthony from his dark and somewhat strange moment of introspection.

The Trevi Fountain is a fountain in the Trevi rione in Rome, Italy.  Standing 85.3 feet high and 65.6 feet wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  The fountain at the junction of three roads (tre vie) marks the terminal point of the "modern" Acqua Vergine, the revived Aqua Virgo, one of the ancient aqueducts that supplied water to ancient Rome.  The Aqua Virgo led the water into the Baths of Agrippa.  It served Rome for more than 400 years.  A traditional legend holds that if visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they're ensured a return to Rome.  The Trevi fountain was the setting for an iconic scene in Federico Fellini's film La dolce vita starring Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni, and for some scenes in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

Salumeria Roscioli:  Anthony and Cesare visit Salumeria Roscioli. Fresh ingredients reign supreme at this butcher shop/bakery near the piazza of Campo di Fiore in the city center.  This one is owned and operated by Pierluigi, and he invites Anthony and Cesare to sample some of his finest cheese, meat and wine in the back storeroom.  There's fresh buffalo mozzarella made from the milk of the domestic water buffalo, prosciutto, a 4 year-old, "live", previously uncut Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese made from free-range, grass-fed cows.

Ristorante Paris:   Anthony joins Cesare for dinner at Ristorante Paris, a family-owned restaurant, to try some of their most popular Roman fare.  Cesare explains that ancient Roman cuisine was heavily spiced and seasoned with spices from their conquered territories abroad because the more exotic the food, the more prestigious the Romans were who ate it, but today, modern Roman cuisine primarily utilizes more regional and seasonal ingredients.  Ristorante Paris is one such restaurant, and today they're serving Anthony and Cesare fried artichoke; vignarola—a vegetable medley made from spring onions, fava beans, artichokes, peas and a little pancetta; baby lamb cooked well-done until it's tender, sweet and tasty; and a salad made with anchovy and puntarelle (a type of common chicory).

Trattoria il Timoniere:   Anthony meets up with Marco, a local fishmonger and friend of Cesare's, and Sarah, the show's local fixer, for dinner at Trattoria il Timoniere.  The restaurant has one of the best amatriciana in town, and their carbonara is very good, adding zucchini flowers when they're in season.  Anthony opts to try both the amatriciana and the carbonara.

Amatriciana is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese.  tomato and a little olive oil.  Originating from the town of Amatrice, the amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Roman and Italian cuisine.  The recipe is known in several variants, depending also on local availability of certain ingredients.  While every one seems to agree about the usage of guanciale and tomato, onion is disliked in Amatrice, but it is used in the classical handbooks of Roman cuisine.  As frying grease, olive oil is mostly used, but strutto (canned pork lard) can be used too.

Carbonara is an Italian pasta dish based on eggs, cheese (pecorino or parmesan), bacon (guanciale or pancetta), and black pepper.  The pork is fried in fat (olive oil or lard), then hot pasta is dropped into the pan to finish cooking for a few seconds; a mixture of raw eggs, cheese, and butter or olive oil or cream, is then combined with the hot pasta away from additional direct heat to avoid coagulating the egg, which must remain a liquid component of the sauce as it cooks.

Filippo La Mantia:   Cesare invites Anthony to join him for a luxurious multi-course dinner by esteemed chef Mantia at the Hotel Majestic’s featured restaurant, Filippo La Mantia.  Like the Hotel Majestic itself, Filippo La Mantia is very sophisticated, paying attention to every detail.  Chef Mantia is from Sicily and he cooks one of the best for caponata in Rome.  Anthony not only has the caponata, but the bucatini (a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center) and sarde (fresh sardines) with pine nuts on top, followed by a local fish with potatoes, fava beans, tomatoes and pistachio.

Caponata is a Sicilian aubergine dish—a cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, and capers in a sweet and sour sauce.  Numerous local variations of the ingredients exist with some versions adding olives, carrots and green bell peppers, and others adding potatoes, or pine nuts and raisins.  Today, caponata is typically used as a side dish for fish dishes and sometimes as an appetizer, but since the 1700s it has also been used as a main course.

A Casa di Rita:   Anthony and his wife, Ottavia, take a car ride to Centocelle, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Rome, to eat at A Casa di Rita. Anthony and Ottavia are joined by Todd, the cameraman and good friend.  "Aunt Rita" has converted an old home into a trattoria, an Italian-style eating establishment, which less formal than a ristorante (restaurant).  The service is casual, wine is sold by the decanter rather than the bottle, prices are low, and the emphasis is on a steady clientele rather than on haute cuisine.  The food is modest but plentiful, mostly following regional and local recipes.  Dinner starts with tagliolini pasta served with garlic, chilies, and Roman meat.  Next the gnocchi with a pork ragù, followed by oxtail, tripe, coratella (heart, lung and esophagus of lamb or kid, sautéed with artichoke), and puntarelle (Roman chicory).

Beach Cookout:  Anthony and his two friends, chefs Cesare and Marcos, treat some family and friends to a seafood bonanza on the beach in Lido, located on the Lazio Coast, just 1 hour outside of Rome.  The three amigos prepare a feast that includes risotto, squid and squid ink, fish, prawns, zucchini, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes.  Afterwards, Cesare joins Anthony on the beach for a toast to la dolce vita (the sweet life) with a bottle of Amaro.

Amaro, an Italian herbal liqueur, commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif.  It is usually bitter and sweet, sometimes syrupy, usually with an alcohol content between 16% and 35%.  Amaro is typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark, and/or citrus peels in alcohol, either neutral spirits or wine, mixing the filtrate with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or in bottle.

Cesare concludes that the Amaro is an excellent choice for the occasion, because into the sweet life must come a little bitterness. 



ARGENTINA:  From the Tango to paragliding to cattle rustling to trekking along icy glaciers, Anthony experiences it all.

AUSTRALIA:  Melbourne has been described as San Francisco without the fog.  Anthony is off to discover what makes it so special.

BERLIN:  Anthony finds himself in Berlin, a city that is for him both good and evil, Eastern and Western, repulsive and appealing.

BRAZIL:  Some say São Paulo feels like LA threw up on NYC.  But Anthony's back for the great food and its welcoming people.

Anthony revisits his love for India's vibrant culture, cuisine & communities with a trip to Kolkata & Mumbai.

COLOMBIA:  A bright and beautiful country that has gone from drug capital to food capital.  Anthony explores its unique cuisine.

EGYPT:  Anthony skips the long lines and tour buses, and visits with Egyptian locals to get a taste for what it means to be Egyptian.

GHANA:  Anthony heads to Ghana, West Africa, a land of old forts and slave castles, and a culture filled with great food and music.

GREEK ISLES:  Anthony is on a culinary odyssey to discover if Greece really does have the world's healthiest diet. 

HONG KONG:  A wonder-land of colors, lights and speed, a perfect marriage of modern and traditional, and home to great Asian cuisine.

IRELAND:  Ireland's steeped in history and traditions, both oral & written.  Anthony dispels the myths that it has the worst food on the planet.

JAMAICA:  Jamaica is a vibrant, colorful land full of resorts and reggae music.  Anthony is there to uncover the lesser-known Jamaica.

KOREA:  Anthony gives in to his employee's pressure to visit Korea and, next thing you know, they're in Seoul and the adventure begins.

MEXICO:  Carlos, a head chef in NYC and good friend, gives Anthony a culinary tour of his hometown Puebla and nearby Mexico City.

OSAKA (Japan):  Anthony learns all about kuidaore, which means to bankrupt oneself with extravagance in food and drink!

PARIS: In this very first episode of the series, Anthony heads to the "City of Light" to show, at least the Americans, why the French don't suck.

PERU:  Anthony is on a mission to obtain personal enlightenment in a land of ancient culture, rich cuisine, and vibrant people.

QUEBEC (Canada):  Anthony is off to Québec to indulge in one of his most hedonistic pleasures–foie gras (fatty duck liver).

RAJASTHAN (India):  From gorgeous sights to enticing smells, Anthony explores the magical and delicious offerings of Rajasthan.

RUSSIA:  Anthony explores Russia, where the food is hearty.  Along the way he meets a former Cold War spy and Miss Russia.

SHANGHAI (China):  Anthony is back in China.  From Shanghai to Tibet, he searches for the mythical Shangri-La.

SICILY:  Anthony starts his gastronomic tour through Sicily in style by sharing a spleen sandwich with Sicily's president.

SINGAPORE:  Singapore is serious about food and offers up a cuisine like no other.  Anthony dives in head-first.

SPAIN:  According to Anthony, outside of Asia, Spain is the single greatest place for culinary achievement in the world.

TOKYO:  Anthony is off to Tokyo in search of the relationship between a perfect piece of sushi and a perfect knife blade.

TUSCANY:  Anthony travels to the beautiful Tuscan countryside to visit with friends and enjoy some homemade pasta that's out of this world.

URUGUAY:  Anthony and his brother are on a mission to connect with their roots in Uruguay after learning that Bourdains once settled here.

Anthony visits Vancouver, home to a thriving film industry, gorgeous scenery, and an evolving food scene.


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