Steps away from the Coliseum is the Monti district of Rome, a neighborhood energized by its youthful, bohemian  population.  It’s here that Angelo Belli opened his innovative zero kilometer restaurant, “combining all of my favorite things in life”, he says- locavore dining and his penchant for interior design, creating  a place that is completely Roman yet stongly modern, and thoroughly popular with the locals and traveling foodies.

A- Rome’s Urbana 47

Mr. Belli began by providing home delivery of newspapers but a profound love of cuisine pushed him to start delivering food products in addition, and so he began connecting with the local milk, vegetable, and meat farmers, as well as wine and oil producers, to find the best ingredients available in Rome and its surrounding region of Lazio.   Urbana 47, his first restaurant, was a natural continuation of the food delivery business.  Adding to his pleasure with the grotto-like space he was able to fill up with well-picked vintage furniture that looks like its been recuperated from an old film studio in Rome.

To enter feels like walking into a private club of experienced organic gourmands.  A buffet table is spread with a wealth of seasonal vegetables, fresh meats, and various small bites that all look enticing, with full size bottles of the local Valle Santa extra virgin olive oil set around the table for liberal additions.  This restaurant has a loyal community of diners who are committed to its locavore principles and astoundingly delicious food prepared simply, but traditionally, with the freshest organic ingredients in the region.

zero-kilometer-olive-oils-and-more-at-romes-urbana-47Everyone seems to know what they’re doing as they approach the table, pointing and creating beautiful meals that they take back to their tables to eat.  I am confused, overwhelmed even, by these intriguing dishes without a menu.  Luckily the chef guides me to the ceci e baccala, chick pea and dried cod soup, a simple dish that turns out to be so incredibly delicious that I shamelessly begged for the recipe.  {See the fruitful results of my begging below.}

Locavore, or zero kilometer eating as it’s referred to here, is gaining popularity with foodies around the world, but in Rome it’s really the continuation of  a longstanding and continuous tradition, updated with a chic décor.  The real innovation is to focus on the locality of Roman cuisine, to enhance it by finding organic ingredients from small, traditional farms, and to make a strong statement out of it.

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