And so to table.

One thing I recalled from our last visit to Italy was the restraint shown with alcohol. You seldom saw a local have more than a glass or maybe two at dinner. Very civilised. This despite the vino de casa usually being light and easy.

But today we are here for the solids — here are the highlights:

Pumpkin pizza from the little hole in the wall Da Remo Pizzeria on Via del Pie di Marmo (Street of the Marble Foot, yup, right). If Seinfeld had a soup nazi, this guy was the pizza fascist. The base is all lightness and crunchy/crumbly, the toppings just so in quantity, the flavours clean and sharp, all bound onto a hot square.

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Degustazione di baccala: salt cod medley in five ways. Totally awesome. The baccala crudo, front centre — sashimi in olive oil, I guess, was a knockout. The battered baccala (tempura?!) on the left, airy and divinely friable. The baccala trad, middle top, rehydrated dried salted cod was perfection. The little bits dotting the plate are pieces of fried cod skin. And so on. This was at the wonderful high-style agata e romeo near Termini station. The day we went we were shown in by Agata herself, a rather severe looking older woman — we were one of only two tables of two, proving Berlusconi wrong on the matter of restaurants being full.

 In Rome, cafe is an espresso, a “latte” is, of course, milk. The baccala meal above was followed by the best coffee I have had so far in a city which takes its coffee seriously, often and very well. Melbourne baristas and coffee consumers are on the whole rather a long way behind the state of art. The cafe shown here is from “a selection of four types of arabic coffee beans separately toasted and then mixed to a recipe originated by Giovanni Erbisti in 1947.” It’s bloody good. (And the petit four were astounding in their delicacy and gorgeousness.) By the way, a coffee on the street, in a coffee shop, in a bar, is around 80 cents to 1 euro; that’s $1.05 to $1.60…

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Gelati from Grom. Grom is a chain, so hasn’t got the old-school cachet of Giolitti. But the Zabaione (bottom), is very good and the cachi (persimmon, on top) is kickass. The newest hot-cool gelateria has a name I have forgotten, but it’s on the corner opposite the art shop on the Marble Foot street (where Philiop Guston bought his art supplies in 1970). Their Noce (nut) is definitive.

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A plate of salumi and cheese at Roscioli, salumeria con cucina. We were dead and gone to heaven. The white bits are lardo, exactly.

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Pastries at Dagnino. Fabulous Sicilian cake shop, also near Termini. From top we have Virgin’s Breast (filled with green — a paste of candied fruit); marron glace, the standard candied chestnut; and a cannoli filled with ricotta, cold and creamy fresh.

And these are why they practise the passeggiata