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 22nd 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.
Hunting for Holiday Essentials
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 (Via Cola di Rienzo, 196) also sells a variety of imported goods that compose the perfect Thanksgiving meal, including baking mixes, cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, canned sweet potatoes, marshmallow fluff, and pumpkin filling.
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, 112 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! [By: Cassidy Slockett]
Restaurants, Pubs, and Clubs Celebrating Giorno del Ringraziamento
Hard Rock Café
Via Vittorio Veneto, 62a (Via Veneto)
Hard Rock Café will be celebrating Thanksgiving this year with an all-day turkey extravaganza. From 11.30am – 11.55pm, customers can partake in a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie for €35/person. The atmosphere will especially celebratory with an Aretha Franklin revival show and performances by the 7 Hills Gospel Choir and Tahnee Rodriguez. Reservations are required, and you can view the full menu and booking details here.
Piazza in Piscinula, 51 (Trastevere)
Celebrate Thanksgiving at Alembic in Trastevere. Their special menu included:
- mashed potato
- pumpkin pie
- cranberry sauce
- roasted vegetables
- fruits and chestnuts
- corn bread
The cost of the menu is 25 Euro, a glass of vine is included.
American International Club of Rome
Via Sistina, 121 (Trevi)
If you’d like to spend Thanksgiving in an American community, check out this American expat organization’s upcoming dinner. Since 1953, the American International Club of Rome has been pulling all the stops for Thanksgiving – a Prosecco toast, turkey dinner, pumpkin pie, live music, and raffles. Members and non-members alike are welcome to partake in this heartwarming and customary evening, which continues to use an original turkey menu from Washington D.C. from 1943. The specific location of the dinner is yet to be announced, but it will take place at a restaurant in the center at 7:30p.m. The cost of the event is €60 for AICR and Navy League Members, €75 for non-members, and €40 for active U.S. military members and DoD. Reserve your seat by November 20th here.
Vicolo di S. Biagio, 9 (Campo Marzio)
For many, Thanksgiving isn’t complete without an endless buffet of turkey and an NFL game on the big screen. Highlander Pub serves exactly that beginning at 6.30pm Thursday night. You’ll find all the traditional favorites like mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and turkey along with an alcoholic drink of choice, games, karaoke, and American football. NFL games scheduled for Thanksgiving day are the Lions vs. the Bears (6.30pm Rome time), Cowboys vs. Redskins (10.30pm), and Saints vs. Falcons (2.30am). Tickets cost €40 and can be purchased through the pub’s Facebook page.
Via Cimone 129/131 (Monte Sacro)
Perhaps 2018’s the year you want to mix things up – look no further than Dondolo Roma, a restaurant that reinvents Anglo-Saxon cuisine according to Italian culinary traditions, for an adventurous and atypical Thanksgiving. Dondolo will be celebrating the holidays in its own way, by inaugurating its new Freschetto menu for the fall and winter. Travel to the outskirts of Rome and taste the café’s Oriental inspired food from the new menu with dishes like bao buns (homemade bread), sautéed veggies with teriyaki, and beef stew. You can also enjoy staples in Italian cuisine like fish, pesto, olives, spinach, and artichokes. Dondolo will also reveal their new wine list and dessert on November 22. Reservations are not required, but you can check out Dondolo’s Thanksgiving event here.
Via Capo d’Africa 54 (Celio)
Perched on the top floor of the Hotel Capo d’Africa, L’Attico Bistrot supplies a fantastic view of the Colosseum and another option for fulfilling all your Thanksgiving cravings. For €40/person, you can indulge in a simple yet delicious three-course meal serving puréed pumpkin soup and cornbread, turkey stuffed with citrus fruits, and pecan nut cake. Dinner includes two glasses of Anima Umbra of the Arnaldo Caprai winery, mineral water, and coffee. View the full menu and reserve your seat here.
Il Giardino Restaurant
Via Ludovisi, 49 (Via Veneto)
For an exquisite fine dining feel with panoramic views, you can enjoy your holiday feast at Il Giardino, a restaurant atop Hotel Eden Rome. For €80/person, a three course meal of traditional Thanksgiving dishes with an Italian touch will have your mouth watering. Pan-fried scallops, turkey breast stuffed with brandy-flavored prunes, and vanilla ice cream smothering a piece of pumpkin pie will certainly create a Thanksgiving to remember. The price excludes drinks, but the three course meal is available for both lunch and dinner from noon to 10p.m. Reserve your table here.
Via Vitellia, 102 (Gianicolense); Piazza Navona, 2 (centro storico)
Vivi Bistrot, a popular organic restaurant with locations in Villa Pamphili and Piazza Navona, is offering a Thanksgiving dinner in “perfect American style.” Hosted inside Palazzo Braschi, Vivi Bistrot will serve American classics with an Italian touch – stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, chestnuts, cornbread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and brownies. Note that booking is required to attend the dinner, which begins at 8p.m. on November 22 and costs €40 per person (not including drinks). Reserve your seat on Vivi Bistrot’s Facebook page here.
Corso Trieste, 157 (Trieste)
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. This year’s menu also includes lactose-free options like cranberry crostini with cream cheese and pecan caramel cheesecake. In celebrating the opportunity to appreciate life’s blessings, Bakery House is also giving a helping hand to those less fortunate. A portion of the proceeds will be sent to Genoa and aid individuals left homeless from the Morandi bridge devastation this August. This scrumptious dinner costs €40 per person (includes water and one glass of wine) and reservations are musts. Book your seat on Bakery House’s Facebook page here.
Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101 (Monte Mario)
Last but not least, L’Uliveto, the restaurant of hotel Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria, is hosting a buffet dinner with the option to pre-order (at least 48 hours in advance) three courses for take-out. Thanksgiving dinner begins at 7p.m., however you can still reserve a table for breakfast or lunch on November 22. You can view the full dinner menu and dessert buffet here, which includes seasonal favorites like Virginia baked ham, smoked turkey, pumpkin dumplings and pie, sweet potato purée, caramelized chestnuts, and lemon meringue tartlets. The dinner, which can be booked here, costs €105/adult, €45/child, and €70 for a three-course take-out meal.
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.