Whether you are an American trying to continue traditions while living in Italy, or an Italian looking to celebrate new festivities, Thanksgiving is the perfect day to gather with friends and family, eat comfort food, and remind ourselves of all the things in life that we are grateful for.
Having a Thanksgiving meal in Rome isn’t easy, per say, but it isn’t impossible either. Check out the survival guide below to celebrate Thanksgiving the best way possible on the 23rd of November!
Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving?
First and foremost, deciding who to invite to your Thanksgiving meal will set the tone for the rest of the preparations. For example, are you planning to invite Italian relatives? Do you get along with them? Would you prefer to host a Friendsgiving (Thanksgiving with friends only)?
What to Cook/Eat?
Now that you have a general idea of who is attending your feast, the next step is delegate certain meals to different people. Is grandma an expert with turkey? Does your partner have a family pie recipe? Anyone want to try something new or incorporate Italian classics into the meal? It is important to make a list of who will cook what – this way you can avoid having ten people show up with mashed potatoes.
The Crazy Grocery Shopping Experience
Stores like Conad sell pastry dough and cinnamon, but certain ingredients are much more tricky to find. In Italy, it is rare – if not impossible – to walk into the average grocery store and buy pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar, cranberry sauce, or a whole turkey.
Drogheria Innocenzi in Trastevere (Via Natale del Grande, 31) sells just about anything and everything you can imagine: Bisquick mix, canned Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, brown sugar, and Libby’s pumpkin pie filling.
While fresh cranberries do not grow in Italy, sour, red ribes (currants) are a decent substitution. If you are looking to make a fresh simple cranberry (currant) sauce, boil these berries with sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice, and in about 10 minutes, you’ll have a lovely sauce.
Castroni also sells a variety of imported goods – Lindt chocolate, baking mixes, cranberry juice, tortilla chips, and peanut butter in Via Cola di Rienzo 196 (Prati).
Americaneat, near Campo de Fiori (Via dei Chiavari, 30), sells marshmallows, marshmallow fluff, and other mixes, though it is a bit pricey.
Sweet potatoes (patate dolci) can be found at various bio/organic grocery stores around the city, though it is often a hit or miss situation. That being said, the Latin American stalls around Piazza Vittorio usually have them.
As for the turkey, many macellerie should be able to provide you with a turkey, but you will have to pre-order a few days ahead of time. Bio Eno on Via Labicana, 70 and the Testaccio market are some excellent options. Bear in mind that your Roman oven is probably much smaller than ovens in the United States, so be specific about the size of your turkey!
If this all sounds like way too much work for you, there are still a few alternatives!
Vivi Bistrot, Villa Pamphili and Piazza Navona locations, has a Thanksgiving buffet dinner from 8:30pm. They serve American classics with an Italian touch – stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, chestnuts, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and carrot cake. The full menu is here. Note that booking is required.
Bakery House is also giving thanks and celebrating Thanksgiving at their beautiful Corso Trieste locale. A warm American atmosphere with a traditional Thanksgiving menu awaits you! And of course, the unmissable turkey will be the protagonist! The dinner is €40 per person and reservations are musts.
Mama’s Ristorante offers a Thanksgiving menu as well. This one includes honey baked ham, sweet potato pecan souffle, apple pie, and gourmet stuffing. The full menu is on the front page of the website.
Still central, but very upscale, is the Thanksgiving dining event organized at Brunello, Regina Hotel Baglioni’s restaurant, near the US embassy. The menu features the classics like turkey and pumpkin pie, as well as ravioli. See the full list here and make sure to book ahead of time.
Last but not least, three offers are available at L’Uliveto, the restaurant of hotel Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Not only you have the buffet dinner but also the buffet lunch (both with a giant buffet dessert selection). Thirdly, you can choose the take-away option. Book at least two days in advance.
Don’t get too caught up in finding the perfect foods or the perfect restaurant. Friends and family and remembering to be Thankful are the essence of the holiday. Make sure to share what you are thankful for during your Thanksgiving meal.