People get down with their suitcases from the shuttle bus that brings them from the airports and enter the central station. Still tired from the trip, maybe after a long flight, and their first impression of Rome is the new Mercato Centrale that was inaugurated couple of weeks ago on one of Termini central station's corners.
Unlike other "neo-markets" around the world that are built as a part of the traditional one or on top of it – like in Florence, as its president Umberto Montano is also the entrepreneur of this one – the new market was built from scratch. This fact and its location were probably the reasons that it was designed the way it is, having 4 entries which are spread along the street and from inside the station. The market becomes a central station of food, so the visitor can go from one stand to the other along a course that he sets for himself.
For example, one can start by getting a pizza slice (or two) from the stand of Gabriele Bonci who is the mind and hands behind Pizzarium right next to The Vatican. Here you can get a thick-dough pizzas with not-the-ordinary toppings like Romanesco broccoli/cauliflower, cime di rapa (broccoli rabe) and tomato cream or hummus, chicory and tomatoes cream. You can get also fresh bread loaves which are baked just in front of you in one of the huge ovens.
It couldn't hold it if it wasn't that thick - broccoli in different shapes and raw prosciutto over tomatoes
From there you can stroll down the street-food street and have a Trapizzino – a tramezzino made with a pizza dough, a quite new invention of Stefano Callegari who has some very respectable pizza places around Rome. And like at Bonci's stand, the fillings are unusual for the Roman palette: Doppia panna (= double cream) which contains an excellent creamy Buratta cheese from Puglia and Spanish anchovies from Cantabria or pork padellaccia, which means boiled pork neck heavily seasoned as the roasted style porchetta. Like Bonci's pizza, the fillings are super rich so the dough must be thick enough to absorb and hold them. Some will like it, others won't.
If you prefer a more fine dining experience, go to the stand of Famiglia Galluzzi that handles a fish and seafood restaurant since 1894. Here you can get, like on any other market or central station, some fresh oysters sitting on a nice plate of ice or other findings from all of Italy's coasts. It doesn't even matter that there's in no coastline on a 40 kilometers radius around Rome – The Galluzzis are obliged to freshness, so you can have a little sea breeze and salty water at about 40 meters from the platforms.
The sea away from the sea
And for the ultimate unimaginable-yet-real combination you'll have to go upstairs to the second floor, take a look at 'The Hood' ('La Cappa'), one memory of the fascist architecture of Angiolo Mazzoni who designed this part of the station just before World War II, and sit at 'The table, the wine and the pantry' ('La tavole, il vino e la dispensa'). There you'll find plates like Risotto all'amatriciana, or octopus with creamy purée and green beans, not your ordinary snack before catching a train. It'll make more sense – or quite the opposite – If you take a sneak peek at the kitchen, there you'll see Oliver Glowig who dominated the kitchens of two Michelin stars restaurants up until recently and now is mastering a small team of cooks in the tiny and well trained kitchen.
Outside of the restaurant, waiting to be served
The market is branded with Miró-like scribbles and perhaps refers to one of his most famous paintings, 'The Harlequin's Festival', which depicts the last dinner of Mardi Gras. Yet this is not a scribble. This is a very organized feast and since the beginning of October a new must-stop spot for foodies, whether they arrive to Rome or leaving it.