Rome: A cool restaurant and art space in San Lorenzo

By Sofia Celeste
October 3, 2012

The San Lorenzo neighborhood has a gritty appeal that reminds me of New York's Meatpacking District. During the turn of the century, San Lorenzo was an industrial, working-class district of Rome, it was heavily bombed in World War II, and then gradually became a graffiti-plastered hangout for left-leaning university students.

Recently the neighborhood has gotten more shabby-chic. A testament to that change is Pastificio San Lorenzo, a dimly lit restaurant with nostalgic decor, a trendy clientele, and even a gourmet hamburger that meets my American standards. Despite its foreign allure, which certainly has Romans buzzing about this place, it mostly serves innovative Italian dishes.

I just spent a decadent evening at the restaurant that started with a pumpkin cappuccino: a salty-and-sweet pumpkin broth enhanced with crispy pancetta, layered with a creamy froth, and sprinkled with black truffle flakes. Other menu highlights include linguine with red onion and zucchini flowers, tuna and goat cheese dumplings on courgettes, and sliced smoked duck breast fillet with coconut milk and candied grapes. If you still have room for dessert, try the black cherry velouté with a crispy mascarpone pastry roll or the passion fruit crème brûlée with banana caramel. Entrees from €13 ($17.56), reservations recommended, 011-39/069-727-3519, open Tues.-Sun., 7 p.m.-2 a.m.

Pastificio San Lorenzo is located within an early 20th-century building that used to be a pasta factory and flour mill. It's known as the Cerere Building, named after the Roman goddess of agriculture. Today, it also houses the Pastificio Cerere Foundation, an organization that promotes contemporary art. The entrance is at Via degli Ausoni, 7.


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Would you pay extra for an allergy-free room?

Have you ever had trouble getting a good night's sleep in a hotel room because your allergies were acting up? Well, you may be able to breath a little more easily, now that Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has announced it will be outfitting all 125 of its full-service U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean properties with hypoallergenic Respire rooms. The rooms are geared toward travelers with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory sensitivities (more than half the U.S. population has tested positive for one or more allergens, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology), but they'll work just as well for anyone who just wants a better breathing environment. In the past few years, other hotel chains have introduced similar rooms (Wyndham and NYLO, among others) but none to the extent that Hyatt is planning. Respire rooms are currently available to book in 65 Hyatt properties; by year's end it should have a total of 2,000 of the allergy-friendly rooms spread across its Hyatt Resorts, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, and Andaz brands. How do they work? Each room undergoes a comprehensive, multistep process, implemented by New York–based company Pure Solutions, that involves sanitizing the air unit, treating all surfaces and fabrics to minimize allergens and irritants, installing a medical-grade air purifier, and covering mattresses and pillows with encasings designed to keep allergens out. Huh? Pure Solutions explains the process and science on its website behind it much better than I can here. The result is a room designed to eliminate up to 98 percent of airborne viruses and bacteria, along with pollen and other irritants. I know what you're thinking: Will you feel like you're staying in a hotel, or in a sterilized hospital? It's a valid question; steps other hotels have taken to reduce allergens have included removing carpeting and soft surfaces and replacing them with wood flooring and leather- and vinyl-clad furniture. But the Pure Solutions process is so thorough that those actions aren't needed at Hyatt properties. Your Respire room will feel just as cozy in decor and atmosphere as any other room in that particular hotel. In fact, the only visible difference will be the presence of the air purifier. The rooms, of course, don't come without a price; expect to pay $20 to $30 more for a Respire room. Would you pay a little extra to get a good night's sleep? More from Budget Travel 4 ways to get a free hotel room this fall Nothing to sneeze at: Allergy-free hotel rooms Have a Green Stay America's favorite hotel chains London hotels: Want that towel? You have to pay $2.40

Are all of these airport security measures working?

TSA declines to comment on "unbelievable" case of identity fraud on recent Air Canada flight. If there's any bright side to all the hassles of going through airport security (and as any traveler is aware, there are many) it's the sense of security that all those measures provide. I myself generally trust that the precautions homeland security takes make me and my fellow passengers safer, so I'm able to see all the red tape as more comforting than annoying. It's both frustrating and frightening, then, to hear stories like the one that emerged Friday from CNN, in what authorities are calling an "unbelievable case of concealment." On October 29th, a young man in Hong Kong, described as an "Asian looking male that appeared to be in his early 20s," boarded an Air Canada flight bound for Vancouver, disguised as an elderly man—silicone face and neck mask, decoy eyeglasses, Mr. Rogers-esque brown cardigan and all. He even went so far as to mimic "the movements of an elderly person" and—more shockingly—to swap boarding passes with an actual citizen of the United States, who was booked on that flight as a passenger. A Canadian Borders Services Agency alert, dated November 1, 2010, said that "it is believed that the subject and the actual United States Citizen passenger (whose date of birth is 1955) performed a boarding pass swap, with the subject using an Aeroplan card as identification to board the flight." Aeroplan is nothing more than a credit card, which allows card holders to earn frequent flyer miles. (How appropriate, right?) The U.S. citizen in question is so far unidentified. Air Canada officials pointed out that "there are multiple identity checks before departure at the Hong Kong international airport, including Chinese government-run Hong Kong passport control, which Hong Kong originating passengers must undergo." Still, the subject successfully got on the plane under an assumed identity, with the U.S. citizen's boarding pass. After he boarded the flight and the plane took off—in a quick change worthy of Superman—he simply walked into the airplane bathroom and removed his mask and eyeglasses. He then emerged as a young man and calmly returned to his seat, much to the surprise of the plane crew and other passengers, who alerted officials in Canada. After landing in Vancouver, the young man was immediately arrested and taken into custody by Canadian Border Services Officers. He has since made a claim for refugee protection. Why, exactly, he did all this remains unclear. But that, to me, is entirely beside the point—I don't care why, I want to know how. How on earth did he slip past security in this Halloween get-up? I contacted our very own Transportation Security Administration to find out, but representatives there declined to comment. All we can hope, I suppose, is that our screening processes are a lot more fool-proof than those executed last week in Hong Kong. More from Budget Travel What's new in airport security? Ugh! Airport security screener caught stealing up to $700 a day An inside look at "illicit" airport finds


San Francisco: Sweet treats to try before you die

Local magazine 7X7 just released a list of San Francisco's 50 top sweet treats. In a food-obsessed city like this, it's a wonder the list is only at 50! Unlike other "try before you die" lists, one consisting only of dessert makes for an affordable, actionable pleasure. I'm sure your visit won't allow you to taste all 50 sugary confections (unless you're a real glutton), so let me point you toward my personal favorites that made the list: the spiced chocolate donuts from Dynamo Donut ($2-$3), the lemon cream tart at Tartine ($6.25), and, for a worthy splurge, the Italian-meringue frosted chocolate cake at Miette that serves six to eight people ($26). The list is a great new addition to 7x7s annual round-up of 100 dishes to try before you die, which is pasted like a to-do list on the fridges and bulletin boards of many locals. MORE ON SAN FRANCISCO 12 Things You Didn't Know About San Francisco 5 Best November Values 4 Indie Bookstores Worth a Visit