We visited Rome in June this year (during Albert’s school holidays) as part of my family’s Europe itinerary. Straight from Florence, we arrived around dinner time to our hotel situated 5 minutes away from Citta del Vaticano, the Vatican City. A visit to the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel was on the top of our list and so we did on the following day. As early as 9:00 in the morning, the ticket queue was super long! Lucky for us, I bought tickets in advance online. (If you plan to visit these places, I recommend you book tickets online. It will cost you a few euros but you’ll save precious hours!) And don’t forget to get one of those audio guides! You need to set aside one whole day inside the museum. There’s a café inside (don’t expect too much about the food) so you need not worry about food. During our visit, the museum was teeming with tourists from all over the world. But all the walking and waiting were really worth it because the entire museum and chapel are filled with works of art that are literally jaw dropping! I must say that it is better than the Louvre Museum in Paris. Who will not be mesmerized and astounded with the intricate works of Michelangelo and Raphael? They were really great and amazing artists! Some of our photos at the museum:

After an awe-inspiring day at the museum, we strolled back to our hotel to leave our camera and freshen up. It was dinner time already. Two corners from our hotel, we found a Trattoria that matched our tummy’s craving (and budget). I ordered Lasagna, Albert a Pizza Margherita and Alvin a Polpette al Pomodoro Spaghetti (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce). Yes, Albert could now have his own meal and finish it himself. The price ranged from 6-10 euros per dish. Coperto or cover charge was 2 euros per person. We were very satisfied with our dinner but we didn’t have dessert because we wanted to have Gelato somewhere else. In Rome, you can find Gelato almost in every corner! We tried a few Gelaterias around the Vatican.   A few days after arriving from our trip, I tried to replicate the Meatball Pomodoro as the waiter told me that it was very easy to cook. I found a few recipes with good recommendations from the Internet but since Tyler Florence was one of my favorite chefs in Food Network, I tried his recipe first. Later, I tried the Italian waiter’s recipe.  For the latter, I only have to buy 5 ingredients and I have the rest in my pantry and fridge.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Serves 6
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 200g minced pork
  2. 200g minced beef
  3. 20g Panko breadcrumbs (waiter’s recipe uses dry breadcrumbs)
  4. 20g Parmesan cheese, shredded
  5. 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (this is the flat one)
  6. 1 tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  7. 1 pc onion, peeled and finely chopped (waiter’s recipe recommends grated)
  8. 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  9. Salt and pepper, to taste
  10. 3 egg yolks
  11. 1 tbsp water
  12. ½ cup of plain APF (all purpose flour)
  13. ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  14. Sauce
  15. 2 cans diced tomatoes
  16. 2 tbsp tomato paste
  17. Handful fresh basil, shredded
  1. To prepare the meatballs, combine all the ingredients using your hand except the sauce ingredients, egg yolks, water, flour and olive oil.
  2. Shape the mixture into medium size balls.
  3. Beat the egg yolk and add the water.
  4. On a plate, spread the flour and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  5. Mix the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt and pepper. Spread the sauce over an ovenproof dish.
  6. Preheat oven at 160C (325F)
  7. Heat olive oil in a frying pan over a low to mid heat. Gently fry the meatballs until slightly golden brown.
  8. Place all the meatballs in the dish sauce.
  9. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 35 minutes.
  10. Serve and garnish with shredded herbs.
  1. You may serve with pasta or just bread.
ahappycook.com http://ahappycook.com/
Mmmm… the aroma of the basil and parsley is simply mind-boggling. We feel like we’re back in Italy! A simple yet sumptuous dish. Try this easy and satisfying meal!

Cooking Tips:
1. Herbs are the important part of the Italian style meatballs, without them you’ll end up with a hamburger. You can add fresh mint, oregano and marjoram if you have.
2. The gentle touch of your hands mixes all the ingredients without crushing the meat.
3. Meatballs sizes: for soup, you can make bite size; on its own, you can have big size of around 2 inches in diameter; if to be served with pasta, try medium size of around 1 inch diameter.
4. When rolling the meatballs, lightly oil our hands to avoid the meat sticking on your hands. Roll in light (not too tight) to form a ball.

Travel Tips:
1. When you plan to visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel I recommend that you book your ticket in advance because the queue can be REALLY very long.
2. In every corner in Rome you can find all kinds of Aperitivi, Bar, Caffé, Gelateria, Osteria, Paninoteca, Ristorante, Rosticceria, Pizzeria, Pizza Rustica, Tavola calda and Trattoria. I will try to post another article to differentiate these types.
3. I suggest that before you go inside or take a seat, you can check their menu and price. For dine-in, they usually have a coperto or “cover charge” per diner. During my planning, I read TheGuardian and reviews on Tripadvisor about cafes/gelateria at the Trevi where tourists got ripped off. A quick check of menu and charges may help you avoid this unpleasant experience.
4. If you are unsure about the menu or charges, don’t be shy to ask. That will probably save you a lot of trouble (and money) later.

Have fun and happy cooking!

If you go back to the Greeks and Romans, they talk about all three – wine, food, and art – as a way of enhancing life.” ~ Robert Mondavi