My time in Rome was definitely punctuated by meal times, when I would usually try to find a new restaurant or bar to eat at. Each time I went out to eat, I was struck by the many differences between eating out in Rome and eating out in the US. As far as the experience went, I found waiters were often more detached and slower to serve than those in the US, who are almost always trying to please customers in order to get good tips. In Rome it seemed we were left to enjoy our meals on our own, without a waiter hovering over us waiting to bring more water or chips. The restaurants themselves were set up differently than those in the US. Booths were hardly ever present, and most restaurants had outdoor seating spilling right onto the sidewalks and into the streets. At many restaurants you could just walk up and sit down outside without talking to a waiter or going into the restaurant first.
The food itself was interesting (and delicious). The portion sizes were always smaller, but they were still filling – a product of the carb-heavy foods I’m sure. I only found one local restaurant during my stay in Rome (a to-go sandwiches and gelato shop) that didn’t sell pasta or pizza at all. And of course wine was also heavily present throughout Rome, from the display shelves in every sit-down restaurant I passed to the racks next to the checkout line in the grocery store, where American stores usually stock candy and soda. While I generally see beer more in America, wine is clearly the drink of choice in Italy, and they don’t seem to view it as an evening drink like Americans do. Italians could be seen sipping wine with their meals at outdoor restaurants any time after lunch hour began (which seemed to be a couple hours later than lunch in America).
From later meal times (signaled by different restaurant hours) and detached waiters to the differences in meal content and portion size, I think I’m most reminded of where I am when I go out to get food.