’ve never been a morning person. As long and hard as I’ve tried to follow the early-rising norm, no wakeup call has ever roused me happily from bed.
So when I finally do manage to unwillingly gravitate out of bed and towards the kitchen, it’s no surprise I’m usually at a loss for what to eat. Sweet things like cereal, yogurt, jam or honey on toast can work in the early morning, but moving closer towards lunchtime, my palate has a hard time adjusting to anything sweeter than an espresso with half a teaspoon of sugar, if that.
So what to do?
Part-American, my thoughts inevitably turn to brunch. Or what I’ve always thought of as brunch: sweet pancakes, waffles and French toast, preferably on the same plate as savory bagels with cream cheese, scrambled eggs and bacon or sausages. Possibly all those things somehow combined into a forkful. It’s every late riser’s fantasy.
Lately, Italians have adopted a number of great American traditions while adding their own Mediterranean twist. As an Italian-American living in Rome, I’ve had to forgo the unparalleled delightfulness of maple syrup on bacon, and replace it with a slightly more sophisticated spelt salad, and baked ricotta with honey and walnuts.
I’m not complaining. I like the Italian twist.
But once in a while my American half craves classic American flavors. After lots of sampling and thinking, I’ve come up with my top Rome brunch spots, including those that serve Italian style and those that try their very best to make you feel at home abroad.
Bakery House: This is a lovely American bakery-inspired coffee shop that serves American-style brunch, including freshly made club sandwiches and bagels (extremely hard to find in Rome). The north Rome location near Villa Ada is relaxing and welcoming. To add a Generation Y touch, the walls are lined with iPads for anyone to use while munching on something delicious. Brunch served Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Corso Trieste, 157 b/c. Info and reservations: +39.06.9437.7841.
The Perfect Bun: Arguably the best place to eat American food in Rome. Brunch includes everything from pancakes and waffles, to omelets made right in front of you, bacon and eggs and so much more. It is a buffet/all you can eat style brunch so you best start on an empty stomach. Largo del Teatro Valle, 4. Info and reservations: +39.06.4547.6337.
Dolce: What makes this restaurant unique is its unconventional setup. The name is the tip-off: sweets, or dessert. You order it first, in fact, and it’s made specifically for you while you savor the rest of your meal. This lovely place is worthy of the streets of Le Marais in Paris. Via Tripolotania, 4. Info and reservations: +39.06.8621.5696.
Lanificio Cucina: Informality, creativity and attention to detail are the key at Lanificio Cucina, whose food choices reflect the hipster-chic mood of north Rome’s Nomentana area. It offers a Mediterranean brunch, buffet-style, on weekends and holidays from 12 to 2 p.m. Via di Pietralata, 159. Info and reservations: +39.06.450.1384.
Baja: I mentioned this restaurant-boat in my previous column, but not the late-riser specials. On Sunday, an “ecological” brunch is served on top floor deck tables starting at 1:30 p.m. The menu varies weekly. I’ve seen, fried bread dumplings, couscous, rice salads, and fresh oven jam crostata. Why ecological? If you arrive on a non-motorized vehicle (bikes and kayaks count), you get a €5 discount. Lungo Tevere Arnaldo da Brescia. Info and reservations: +39.06.9436.8869.