Spaghetti alla carbonara at Emma Pizzeria in Rome, Italy

Emma Pizzeria in Rome

Emma Pizzeria in Rome

Via del Monte della Farina 28 – open daily from 12:30 – 3:00; 7 – 11:30pm

Website – +39 06 64760475 – bookings highly recommended

Located near Campo de’ Fiori in the city center, Emma is one of those jam-packed, sparkling restaurants, full of the sounds of clinking glasses, rushing waiters, and the chatter of satisfied customers. The food is seasonal, local, and delicious.

Focaccia at Emma Pizzeria in Rome
Focaccia with cherry tomatoes and basil

One of the things I love about Emma Pizzeria, and Italian food in general, is that simple dishes with a few basic ingredients are mouthwateringly delicious. The tomato focaccia at Emma is a great example of that. The base is crispy. The tomatoes are sweet. The olive oil is peppery. The basil is fresh. The perfect amount of salt intensifies the flavor of each ingredient.

Mozzarella di bufala, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and sliced ham
Mozzarella di bufala, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and sliced ham

The plate above arrives from the counter in the main dining room, where the meat is freshly sliced. The mozzarella di bufala is creamy, the ham is buttery, and the olives and sun-dried tomatoes are tangy. Another perfect plate.

Burrata cheese in Rome, Italy

Burrata is mozzarella on the outside, and part curd and cream on the inside, which makes it rich and creamy and dreamy. Its name derives from the word “burro,” or “butter.” It is ridiculously delicious, and I could probably eat a whole ball of it myself.

Next comes the pasta. The carbonara at Emma is one of my very favorites. It’s salty and silky and rich.

The sauce for carbonara is made of bits of guanciale (or pancetta, depending on who you ask), pecorino cheese, and egg. The number of eggs and white to yolk ratio also depends on who you ask. Some people use the hot pasta water to help cook the egg, some people coat the pasta in the hot fat of the guanciale to do the job.

Spaghetti alla carbonara in Rome, Italy
Emma’s excellent carbonara

I recently heard a legend that carbonara was created when American soldiers were in Italy during World War II. Supposedly, the Americans, being American, asked for bacon and eggs, and Italians, being Italian,  just assumed that pasta somehow played a role in the meal. There are several different stories of how it came to be, but that’s definitely my favorite. The fusion of two cultures can often give birth to amazing things.

Italian cookies in Rome, Italy
Cookies at Emma to top off a delicious meal. Alternative caption: and then there were crumbs

I’m usually too full for dessert after eating at Emma, but I somehow manage to get down a few of the cookies that they usually bring out.

Like I said above, if you’re sightseeing in the city center, Emma Pizzeria is a great place to stop and recharge for lunch, or to cap off the day with a delicious dinner.

Want more tips? Check out my post on where to eat in Rome, which I update as often as I have a good meal (which is to say, a lot).

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