Fa Bìo - Best Sandwich Shop in Rome

In my country of birth, the sandwich has been elevated to an art form. You can find the most inventive combinations under the sun between two pieces of bread, and that bread is likely to be sourdough, pumpernickel or something equally tasty.

In my adoptive country, however, I cannot say the same is true. Despite the catchy name, panini are often rather pathetic. Usually served on a ciabatta (literally: slipper, as in, the thing you wear around the house on each foot), a flat, oblong roll that is crunchy to the point of being annoying, panini are usually composed of two, maximum three (if you’re lucky) ingredients, that can range from tomatoes to mozzarella to prosciutto. Wow, decisions, decisions!

Worse still are tramezzini, made with the Italian version of crustless Wonderbread, with about the same amount of mayonnaise as tuna, tomatoes, salmon, or whatever it might consist of, cut diagonally, as if that could make it less offensive. It’s anybody’s guess as to how long said sandwiches have been sitting in the display case. A few newer-generation sandwich shops have opened that make panini to order while you wait, but the ingredients on offer are generally limited to the above, and perhaps a few veggies dripping with oil. Not exactly appetizing.

That’s why my heart did a dance the day I found Fa Bìo, located in a tiny shop a few blocks from the Vatican museums. Owner Fabio uses only organic (bìo in Italian, hence the clever name of the shop) ingredients and everything is as fresh as can be. Four or five types of bread are on offer, as well as dozens and dozens of ingredients including (wait for it) avocadoes! They have a number of different sauces and spreads as well, including vegan mayonnaise! In fact, vegetarians and vegans will find plenty of options, which is incredibly rare in this city. Wash your sandwich down with one of their amazing fresh juices or smoothies, made with only the freshest fruit and vegetables in season, naturally. Both Fabio and his colleague Claudio speak perfect English and will chat with you as if you were old friends while they prepare a sandwich to your most particular specifications, or one of their many creations listed on the menu.

I'm the kind of person who, especially at a sandwich shop, will bypass the menu and come up with my own invention, hoping that whoever is behind the counter will go with me. I also have the tendency, when I find something that I love, to stick with it. So after ordering the exact same thing on a dozen or more occasions, I was not that surprised to see they had added it to the menu. I must admit I was tickled that they named it after me.

The perfect place for a light, healthy and scrumptious snack or meal! Find Fa Bìo at Via Germanico, 43, between Via Vespasiano and Via Ottaviano.

All photos © Tiffany Parks