The new Romanisches Café offers a modern take on a Berlin classic.

Dabbling in the Markets

Local Flavors

Bursting with seasonal produce and regional specialties, Rome's food markets capture the authentic flavors of the city

Sergio Esposito with one of his speciality sandwiches.

Rome's renowned market culture has become even more enticing in recent years. Modern buildings and a growing farmers market scene have put Romans back in touch with local, seasonal produce and given rise to a dynamic new experience for visitors.

After 97 years, the Testaccio market's original location was shuttered, and in the summer of 2012, the sleek Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio space (between Via Galvani and Via Alessandro Volta) was inaugurated, with such essential modern amenities as running water, security, and dependable power sources. The larger stalls provide more display area, and some sellers offer delectable prepared dishes. Visit Sergio Esposito's Mordi & Vai (found in Box 15 at the market), where meat and produce from nearby stands are used for made-to-order sandwiches and seasonal vegetable side dishes. The boiled beef on an oil-soaked roll is a family recipe.

Across town, the historic Andrea Doria Market experienced a similar revival in 2009, when its outdoor operation was moved inside a new covered building. The Mercato Trionfale (Via Andrea Doria), as it is now known, has more than 250 merchants, who sell everything from fish and meat to fabric and kitchen utensils. This one-stop shop is also teeming with farm-direct seasonal produce, such as Settembrini figs, Ovuli mushrooms, and artichokes. Visit the farmers on the Mercato Trionfale's southern side for a peek at what's in season. Also on the market's southern side, a fishmonger sells a stunning selection of the day's catch from the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea. Look for a vast array of squid, anchovies, clams, cuttlefish, and other sea creatures, which are featured on menus throughout town.

These city-subsidized spaces aren't the only ones that are thriving. Privately run markets have cropped up across Rome and provide an important venue for local growers to get their fresh goods directly to consumers. At the Città dell'Altra Economia (Largo Dino Frisullo), organic farmers not only sell their wares, but they run food demonstrations for children every Sunday as well. This weekly BioDomenica market, set in a converted slaughterhouse in the Testaccio neighborhood, is also home to an organic café, restaurant, and supermarket. In the Garbatella district, the Roma Farmers Market (Via Francesco Passino) celebrates locavore ingredients, which are sold in a light-filled marketplace on Saturdays and Sundays. The same consortium also runs the Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo (Via di San Teodoro) near the Circus Maximus–it is a celebrated spot for a brief lunch or a snack paired with a local craft beer or wine.

Sergio Esposito with one of his speciality sandwiches.

For me, trust is the

most important thing

when it comes to

sourcing

ingredients.

I check and taste

every item personally."

–Heinz Beck

Heinz Beck's Favorite Market Stall

Heinz Beck's La Pergola, located in the Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, is the only restaurant in Rome that can boast three Michelin stars–no small feat in a city rife with fine dining. To procure the ingredients for his legendary dishes, Chef Beck relies on the city's top suppliers, both large and small, forging an essential bond between La Pergola's menu and the choicest items on the market.

"For me, trust is the most important thing when it comes to sourcing ingredients," explains Beck. "I check and taste every item personally. My purveyors know this and therefore only send me the best high-quality products." The relationships Beck builds with his vendors may be central to the chef's philosophy, but Beck also acknowledges that nostalgia plays an important role in his approach to ingredients, particularly when it comes to produce. Of the thousands of stalls that populate Rome's markets, a single one stands out to him.

"Sora Maria in Campo de' Fiori reminds me of my first years in Rome," Beck reminisces. Now, years later, Sora Maria's seasonal fruits and vegetables are transformed into modern dishes in La Pergola's world-class kitchen and served to the restaurant's discerning, globe-trotting epicureans.

Watch Chef Beck share his love of Rome, his passion for Italian food, and why sourcing fresh, local ingredients is the secret to La Pergola's best dishes.