La Birra è Buona a Roma
We’ve heard many a rumor about the burgeoning craft beer revolution in Italy, but we Beer Chicks don’t believe it until we’ve tasted it. So up went the wheels in LA and down we touched in Rome. There’s really only one word to describe it, and that word is ‘Wow.’ Besides the amazing architecture and the 2765 years of rich history and art, Rome has an exploding craft beer scene! Elizabeth Minchilli was our key to all things ‘birra artigianale’ in the Eternal City. In addition to being the author of six books on Italian living and contributor to over forty magazines and newspapers, Elizabeth is one rad beer chick and, according to KCRW Good Food host Evan Kleiman, is ‘The Answer Lady regarding Italy and Rome in particular.’ Her app EAT ROME is awesome. It helped guide us through our drinking and dining experiences in Rome. It’s not an exhaustive guide, but Elizabeth says the app is ‘what I think is the best.’ These are the places where she sends her friends. And as her new friends – here are some of the places that she recommended as the best craft beer spots for us to visit whilst in Rome.
Open Baladin We met Elizabeth at Open Baladin, and we were immediately impressed and happy. This bar opened in September of ‘09 and is owned by Italian craft beer revolutionary Teo Musso (Birrificio Le Baladin). It had over 40 Italian beers on tap and a menu of nearly 100 mostly Italian beers. Named after the Baladin Belgian-style Pale Ale “Open,” this multi-roomed pub in Campo dei Fiori is like nothing you’ll see in the US. You can chill out on pillows on the floor or in an antique settee upstairs, or belly up to the beer bottle-lined bar downstairs. We were only there for ‘aperitivo’ (before dinner (and drinks) drinks) so we only had the chips. But, oh what chips they were – homemade, crispy and salty served with house ketchup .. delizioso. Our favorite beer on tap here was actually a collaboration between Birra del Borgo and the popular Delaware craft brewery Dogfish Head – go figure. It was a wonderful ‘continually hopped’ Imperial Pilsener called My Antonia (more to follow on this beer) that paired perfectly with the salty fatty chips.
Bir & Fud Elizabeth suggested that we make reservations for dinner at this Trastevere haunt, but instead we just went and sat at the bar, which was fine. The service was a bit brisk, which was also fine as the bartender’s beer knowledge was stellar and the list all Italian and all artigianale. This bar takes its beer seriously and elevates the term ‘pizza and beer’ miles above and beyond our American Dominoes and Bud sensibilities. We ordered the potato, sausage and rosemary pizza, which had the thinnest Roman crust and was harmonious with both the American hopped Skizoid from the Parma region (yes, of the cheese and ham) brewery Birra Toccalmatto and theBibock, an earthy, herbal and malty Bock beer from Birrificio Italiano just north of Milan. This bar definitely had the hipster vibe. It felt like we were in Silverlake in LA or the East Village in NYC. It was fun to rub gomiti and drink beer with the cool local folks. (Oh, also order the beer braised chicken wings if you get a chance, seriously.)
Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’? From what we can figure, the nice way to translate the name of this place means “What did you come for?” Walking in, (just across the street from Bir & Fud, btw) this is where we looked at each other and said “YES!” Known as a soccer (or Futbol) pub, this totally authentic, shall we say dive, is known as one of the best beer bars in Rome. Both the draught and bottle lists were Italia-centric, but also multi-faceted and totally satisfying. In addition to Italian beers, the draughts included Belgians, Germans, and even some American beer from California! After talking with the very knowledgeable bartender, we had the awesomely named Spaceman from Brewfist Italian Ales which hails from just south of Milan in Codogno. This Italian IPA was surprisingly hoppy with the grapefruit, citrus and resiny pine that accompanies that. Molto buona!
Domus Birrae This is the one place we didn’t get to that Elizabeth highly recommended. She ranked this place as Rome’s best craft beer shop. Minchilli said, “I love this place, not just for its wealth of beers, but because it allows me to veer out of my comfort zone.” We hope to get there this week and will update this post. But, if you’re in Rome, check it out and let us know what you think! Open Baladin Via Degli Specchi, 6 00186 Roma, Italia Tel. +39 06.6838989
Bir & Fud Via Benedetta, 23 00153 Rome, Italy Tel. +39 06.5894016
Via di Benedetta, 25 00153 Roma, Italy Tel. +39 06.97275218
Domus Birrae Via Cavour 88 00184 Roma, Italy Tel. +39 06.97997570