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Rome Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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Tram Tram, via dei Reti 44/46, Rome, 06.49.0416, closed Mondays, is in the St Lorenzo district (e.g., lots of university students, faculty and in-betweens). This was our first foray into the land of the Slow Food Editions aka 2007 Osterie d’Italia Guide; and this place was hardly new, being 15 years old and hardly undiscovered, featuring two reviews in English on the wall. We adopted the “When in Rome” strategy and ordered what looked good around us. I started with fresh fried sardines that were simply, there’s no way around it – divine! Then Colette had pasta with tiny diced swordfish bits, eggplant and tomato and I had pasta with clams, lotsa pepper and pureed broccoli – both sooo totally different from what we’d ever had in Rome or elsewhere. We shared a main of giant shrimp and squid (roasted toasty crisp and crunchy) with potatoes (and rosemary) moist and sweet – delicious and unusual. The bill = 56 €. As far as I was concerned, whoever reviewed this place for the Slow Food folks was spot on. It embodied all the principles of the movement; good seasonal product, honestly cooked, pleasantly presented and justly priced. The staff were most welcoming – they even had and handed us English menus without our asking.

The Osteria Il Bocconcino, via Ostilia, 23 in Rome, 77079175, closed Wednesdays. What’s the saying: “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first?” Well, the cheese here (parmesan, asiago, pecorino and grana) with an onion/orange/chili pepper relish was incredible and definitely to be eaten before rigor mortis sets in. But the rest was equally good, although the resto, being brand new, it’s a bit unpolished and needs some more practice. We were late, very late, caught on the road from Subiaco on a Sunday night but this new Slow Food Guide aka Osterie d’Italia place, open on Sunday nights (NB) welcomed us with open arms and served good grub. I was a bit wary about the location, right smack near the Coliseum, but recalled a fabulous resto around there from 1961, so I figured that the district held good karma. And indeed it did. Having had a big lunch, we ordered rather conservatively (but well): I had perfectly cooked (e.g., not overcooked) rabbit with a properly sour caper and olive sauce; while Colette had veal and cinnamon meatballs with onions and celery; we both then had huuuuuge salads of lettuces, etc., and then there was that little truc (hole) left, and so we indulged in a bit of cheese. Wow, what a good move! The bread, wine, both bottled Chianti and carafe, were all first rate. The price, I’m ashamed to say – 60.50 €.

The Gallo d’Oro, via del Duomo, 53, 0774.335363, closed Tuesdays, in Tivoli was a place we literally stumbled onto. We had been out in the country on a Sunday around Tivoli (RM) and went into a church in the city to see a twelfth century triptych and reliquary a friend has written about (as only medieval art historians do). That day, all of us were more interested in art history than contemporary cuisine and thus did not do any food research, falling back on the stupidest and most fallible strategy for foodies, we asked “ordinary citizens” where to eat. More astonishingly, we asked religious folk. The church custodian, the woman who seemed to run the church operation and the African-Italian guy who seemed to help out at services all said – right up the hill at the Gallo d’Oro. The place looked totally unimpressive; the interior was boring; but the arty metallic sign outside was lively and creative and one if not two of us said, hell, we buy wines because of cool labels; why not a resto. Good instincts. The art master and I shared the pasta a la matricina (e.g., with lamb and pancetta) and thought it was fabulous. Colette and the Editor had pasta putinesca and pasta with funghi, respectively, that were less successful. Then we all had great arugula and baby tomato salads. The bill for four = 61.70 €; that’s correct – for four 61.70 €, including one bottle of Chianti Classico.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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After living in Roma for the last 7 months, I can only give a couple recommendations, which is slightly disappointing.

I Molisani - a small gastronomia near Piazza Fiume (10 minutes on the 80Express from Termini). This place is always packed full of Romans, the staff speak a little English but are very helpful, as it can be intimidating to try to figure out what to do. Generally, we have two to three dishes, a side, great bread, dessert (mille foglie!) and a liter of water and a couple coffees and we walk away for under 20 euros. A great gastronomia, simple, high quality food.

http://www.imolisani.com/

Da Otello - in Trastevere. I would have guessed this place to be a tourist trap just by the location but we were taken to lunch here by a real Roman, born and raised. The food was good and definitely appropriate to the price. I had oxtail (next time I'll eat it with my hands like a real Roman), my wife had the amatriciana and our host had saltimbocca. We were all pleased.

47/53, v. Pelliccia - 065896848

Filetti di Baccala - Not the actual name of the place but it's what the sign says over the door. The best fried fish we've had in Rome, they supposedly open at 5 but if you go, think more like a little after 6. At four euros a piece, the place is no longer cheap but it's a great to stop in a grab a filetto to go. The bill for two with, cheese, two small beers, puntarella (highly recommended) and four "fish sticks" and bread/service charge was 30 euros.

Piazza S.Barbara - near campo di fiore

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Gelateria Pasqualetti - My wife and I have been hitting this place every Friday for a month now for a mid-afternoon treat. Solid gelato near the Pantheon, in fact, we recently went to San Crispino but were unimpressed by the selection so we walked back to Pasqualetti. Prices are a little high but the quality is good and they are in the Gambero Rosso (not sure if that really means anything). Capriccio with ribbons of Nutella is a current favorite and the lemon flavored sorbet is great too.

Piazza della Maddalena 3A, Pantheon

066878940

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  • 1 month later...
Crab .

It's a restaurant located near the colosseum, they cook sardinian cuisine, so if you're looking for roman cuisine this is the wrong place. Instead don't miss lobster ravioli, excellent!!

Their site:

http://www.aipiani.it/docs/default.html

Sardinian, yes, but very specifically crustaceans. And seadas for dessert, of course. I agree about the ravioli.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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As the first responder to this thread, I want to admit that my dinner at 'Gusto a couple of weeks ago was seriously marred by an overstretched waitstaff. The service was awful. I still like the place but will probably opt for lunch at the bar next time.

We "discovered" Cul du Sac for ourselves on this trip. They even had a Bruno Giacossa Barbaresco in the stack. What a place!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just returned from 7 days in Rome.

Two best places that my wife and I "found" were:

Perdincibacco

Via delle fornaci, 89 Roma

06.63.25.27

This resto was near our hotel (Starhotel Michelangelo-near St. Peter's Basilica) and we actually enjoyed dining their 3 times, the service was very attentive and convivial. One of the nights they seemed to be a little bit understaffed for the amount of business they were doing.

Highlights included; some of the best gnocchi we've eaten on both sides of the pond with roasted porcini mushrooms or with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.

On another night it was a parpadelle with squash blossoms and saffron or spaghetti con vongole-really, really good.

The last night we had dentice which I would put in the small striped bass category for comparison with a lemon and olive broth/sauce, really good-cooked whole and then filleted tableside.

The wine list was good (IMO) but what was even better were the bottles on the chalkboard that changed daily. Had the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful barolo one night and a brunello di montalcino on another.

Bucca di Ripetta

Via di Ripetta and via del Vantaggio

Small "osteria" that is in that category because it is clearly family run, but they have definitely done some traveling because their cooking although very Italian used some worldly influences in order to make what they were cooking better:

Highlights included; probably the best "fried vegetables" we had-they used a tempura batter that kept it very light and the vegetables were really good. The red pepper honestly still stands out because of the depth of the pepper flavor, as well as the eggplant, because it was custard-like inside, it had been cooked perfectly. This was drizzled with either aged balsamic vinegar or a balsamic reduction that added the right amount of acidity.

Next was a salad of porcinis, rocket and shaved parmaggiano regianno, lemon and olive oil-I actually asked them to grill the porcinis for the salad (which was another special), and that was really tasty. My wife raved about the bean soup-which was very good.

The highlight was the milk fed suckling pig. It was a bone in pork loin with the fat cap and crispy skin; crispy crunchy fat protecting and bathing the loin into succulence. It was cooked through, but sweet Jesus was it amazing. This came with roasted potatoes and a light pork jus.

Really good:

Due Ladroni

Near the Largo Fontanella Borghese

Asparagus with fried egg-really good-even better with bread to soak up all the goodness.

Rigatoni alla matricciani (sp?) was good; they used guanciale, my wife found it a little bit "porky", I was the atkins anti-christ on this one soaking up everything with a piece of bread.

Grilled squid-it was crispy on the outside, but not overcooked-like right at the edge of falling into the abyss of rubberbands that overcooked calamari can be. This was with extra virgin olive oil, arugula, tomatoes and lemon. Straightforward a good way for our first night in Rome.

Honorable mentions to:

NINO

Via Borgognona 11

06.67.95.676

Very good veal shank/knuckle-in tomato sauce with parmesan potato puree was the highlight. Perfectly braised piece of shank-well seasoned and braised to the point that it was not mushy, their was a little bit of resistance that I feel allows some of the gelatin/collagen to remain within the meat and adds juiciness.

This place reminded big time of the Berghoff in Chicago in terms of demeanor of the staff and the way it was laid out, not that it was a bad thing, but you could tell that we were in a "tourist restaurant".

Ristorante Scarpone

Via di San Pancrazio 15

The housemade pasta was very good, but too much olive oil finishing it. The highlight was wood grilled entrecote (ribeye) with roasted potatoes.

Everywhere we could find them we ate the wild strawberries, sometimes with gelati, once with a vanilla foam (bucca di ripetta). These really are amazing because they are so tiny and they pop when you bite into them but then it's like a very light strawberry jam on the finish.

Until we return again to this incredible city.

P.S. Couldn't believe how good the espresso and cappucino were everywhere, even the airport!

Edited for ease of reading (hopefully)

Edited by ducphat30 (log)

Patrick Sheerin

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  • 2 months later...

I've got a friend here at my office that is headed to Rome in the next couple of weeks and is trying to make reservations via email. Some have worked, some have not and she doesn't speak Italian.

Can anyone lend a hand?

Thanks.

Patti

Patti Davis

www.anatomyofadinnerparty.com

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I've got a friend here at my office that is headed to Rome in the next couple of weeks and is trying to make reservations via email. Some have worked, some have not and she doesn't speak Italian.

Can anyone lend a hand?

Thanks.

Patti

I've always been able to make reservations with a phone call once in Italy (or even from home if I want to make sure to get into a certain place), and trust me, my Italian is non-existent.

There's a little book called Just Enough Italian that will be a great help to your friend. All she'll need to do is master a couple of words (certainly, do you speak English, hello, please and thank you!), call and ask if they speak English (many of them do!), and proceed from there.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Internet and therefore email are not as wide spread in Rome as here in USA. In addition many restaurants do not maintain their website and it is a third party so you must wait for them to relay your message and so on.

I agree a phone call is pretty easy even if a bit stressful. If you are not getting youself understod simply say "non capisco" and hang up.

Even my horrible Italian can get me understood enough to reserve a table.

Always start off with hello I do not speak Italian do you speak english. Say this in ITALIAN.

Io non parlo italiano, parla inglese?

Then

Prenatzione per favore. due genti per Novembre venti otto alla nove.

See how easy.

My grammar is all wrong and my accent sucks but they understand what I want.

If you own a MAC there is a great translator program on the "dashboard"

If not there are many on the web that work.

Lastly try asking a friend that speaks Italian. maybe at a restaurant you frequent or?????

Or ask the hotel staff where they are staying to do it for them, or take up the generous offer of Kelly

David West

A.K.A. The Mushroom Man

Founder of http://finepalatefoods.com/

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Ok, so we're not traveling until April, but I'm starting to start my research. We're planning to stay in Italy for one week, based in Rome.

I wanted to know if those familar with Rome can give me an opinion on the neighborhood of Trastevere. We have the opportunity to rent a house on Via dell’Arco di San Calisto.

I understand that there are a lot of shops and markets there, as well as some decent restaurants.

Once we establish where we'll stay, I'll launch myself in to food and fun in the rest of Rome :)

Thanks in advance!

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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I've only spent a few days in Rome, but I thought Trastevere was the most charming neighborhood I visited. While it was certainly on the tourist map, I felt I was getting much more of a true slice of Roman life than elsewhere in the city. I also had one of the best slices of pizza in my life at a little pizzerria there! All that said, I think it's hard to go wrong in choosing a neighborhood in Rome. :)

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My wife and I spent a few days of our honeymoon in Rome in last year. I'll second the opinion that Trastevere seems a lot less touristy and prices in restaurants seemed to reflect that as well. We ate the best carbonara of our trip at a place call La Scala which was recommended by my sister-in-law who studied in Rome for a few months. Google maps puts it on Piazza Della Scala which sounds right if memory serves.

Unfortunately that was really our only foray into the area because our hotel was up by the Vatican, but it was definitely worth the long walk. Have a great trip!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Going to be in Rome for 10 days starting next week. Anybody have any NEW local hotspots. No touristy places...looking for good locals only places. Low End High End...doesn't matter...just awesome food. Lemme know.. THANKS :wink:

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We stay in Trastevere four times a year in a little five room hotel called Relais le Clarisse- Charming neighborhood hotel.....you feel like a local. Walk out into the hood. Street market on via Trastevere every day. Great restaurants within walking distance include Spagetarteria and Augusto. Very local..great food and reasonable!! Leaving Monday and can't wait to go!!

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Going to be in Rome for 10 days starting next week. Anybody have any NEW local hotspots. No touristy places...looking for good locals only places. Low End High End...doesn't matter...just awesome food. Lemme know.. THANKS  :wink:

The two places I mentioned in the pinned topic above were full of locals; not too new though. Also check out the Slow Food Guide aka Osterie d’Italia that I found incredibly reliable and that has new places so noted.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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oh sockster!

can you walk by Via dell’Arco di San Calisto and tell me what that "vibe" is like? :)

just how small is this hotel you're staying in? I will be travelling with my husband and two 13 yr old girls. We will definitely need 2 bedrooms.

Thanks to Kevin72, Frog1879 and Didi Dishi for replying too :)

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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Ok, so we're not traveling until April, but I'm starting to start my research.  We're planning to stay in Italy for one week, based in Rome.

I wanted to know if those familar with Rome can give me an opinion on the neighborhood of Trastevere.  We have the opportunity to rent a house on Via dell’Arco di San Calisto.

I understand that there are a lot of shops and markets there, as well as some decent restaurants.

Once we establish where we'll stay, I'll launch myself in to food and fun in the rest of Rome :)

Thanks in advance!

If you have the slightest interest in peace and quiet, make sure the windows are triple glazed. As for food, you would be very near Ristorante Paris, a classic for the Jewish repertoire, plus some Quinto Quarto and fish. Otherwise, Trastevere has good food shopping and lots of places to eat, but not a lot of really good places and many really bad ones. I am not so jaded as to deny it has a certain charm, but it is NOT out of the way (you can walk to the center and Testaccio and there is plenty of public transport) and NOT untouristy, except in comparison with Piazza di Spagna and Campo de' Fiori. There is an outdoor market in Piazza San Cosimato, not very large but pretty good, and many good shops all around it. It would probably be a lot of fun staying on Via Arco di S. Calisto for a week, but don't imagine it's going to be a real Roman neighborhood.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Maureen,

Thank you so much for responding. Your imput is invaluable!

I'm not so concerned with Trastevere being touristy, I just hope that its still tastefully done as to maintain the charm of the neighborhood whist not being over the top commercialised.

The property we were looking at is described as being down a "quiet alley" so I hope the noise level will not be an issue. Although, living in NYC, we're quite familar, and comfortable with life's soundtrack. I think we would really enjoy listening to some activity, it would be, afterall, in Italian :)

If you have the slightest interest in peace and quiet, make sure the windows are triple glazed. As for food, you would be very near Ristorante Paris, a classic for the Jewish repertoire, plus some Quinto Quarto and fish. Otherwise, Trastevere has good food shopping and lots of places to eat, but not a lot of really good places and many really bad ones. I am not so jaded as to deny it has a certain charm, but it is NOT out of the way (you can walk to the center and Testaccio and there is plenty of public transport) and NOT untouristy, except in comparison with Piazza di Spagna and Campo de' Fiori. There is an outdoor market in Piazza San Cosimato, not very large but pretty good, and many good shops all around it. It would probably be a lot of fun staying on Via Arco di S. Calisto for a week, but don't imagine it's going to be a real Roman neighborhood.

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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This was my first trip to Rome, so much of our time was spent sight-seeing. Nevertheless, my girlfriend Leslie and I had time for a number of good meals, with an emphasis more on simplicity than high-end. I culled recommendations from egullet, of course, as well as chowhound and Diane Seed's relatively recent book The Food Lover's Guide to the Gourmet Secrets of Rome.

Monday

We arrived hungry and late; our hotel (Hotel Exedra, in Piazza della Repubblica) recommended Santa Cristina (Via della Cordonata 21/22), a short walk down Via Nazionale. Quite good, overall: we began with prosciutto with melon, followed with gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce and pasta with minced, toasted zucchini flowers (really good), and ended with a small steak (too chewy) and braised endive and chicory on the side. The service was warm and friendly.

Tuesday

We had lunch right down the street from Campo dei Fiori at La Locanda del Pellegrino (Via del Pellegrino 107), a nice Calabrian restaurant. Leslie started with mozzarella di bufala and prosciutto from the Silano mountains in Calabria. I had insalate di polpo all'Ischitana (octopus salad with carrots and celery, apparently as served on the island of Ischia). The octopus salad was very good; the prosciutto was as usual, but good. Leslie followed with fileja, a type of traditional Calabrian rolled pasta, with a sauce made from nduja, a very spicy, soft and spreadable sausage from Splinga. I had spaghetti alla beccafico, spaghetti with a smooth sauce made from walnuts, anchovies, garlic, and fennel. Both were excellent, although the spicy sauce was hot enough to bring tears to our eyes. Worth a trip if you're in the area and a little tired of the usual trattoria food.

Before dinner, we had a glass of wine at Trimani (Via Cernaia 37b), an excellent wine bar and well worth the visit.

Al Chianti (Via Ancona 17) specializes in meat and game. When we wandered in, I think they expected stereotypical Americans since they offered us "Ravioli, spaghetti with tomato?" as soon as we sat down. We brushed that aside and ordered instead boar prosciutto, pasta with hare sauce, and a boar steak, along with white beans and tomato salad. The waiter was charming and seemed genuinely taken by Leslie's wild forays into Italian — so much so that he insisted on bringing her "crema with whiskey" for dessert, basically vanilla gelato with a couple of shots of whisky poured over it. Maybe not a destination, but good, tasty food.

Wednesday

Exhausted from our tour of the Vatican Museum, we had a straightforward lunch at La Veranda (Borgo S. Spirito 73 in the Hotel Columbus). Unremarkable, but certainly satisfactory and a welcome respite from the papacy.

Alberto Ciarla (Piazza San Cosimato 40) served us one of the best dinners we had in Rome, and certainly had the best service. The restaurant focuses on fish, although it also has a "traditional" Roman menu we didn't try. I had the "raw" tasting menu — lightly cured, thinly sliced salmon with equally thinly sliced apples; pasta with chunks of raw fish; tuna tartare; and a green apple granite. Excellent all round (except the tartare, which was a little heavy). Leslie had 6 oysters, black tagliatelle with raw fish, and a delicate raw salmon dish flavored with powdered ginger. It was delicious, simple, and elegant, with professional, thorough and gracious service. Highly recommended.

Thursday

We stopped at Rosati (Piazza del Popolo 4/5a) for a simple lunch. I had fettuccine with porcini; Leslie had spaghetti all'Amatriciana; both were quite good.

Without a reservation, we took a taxi to San Lorenzo, planning to dine at Il Dito e la Luna. On arrival, we discovered that the restaurant at Via dei Sabelli 51 was, instead, Vinosteria. I hadn't planned well enough to know where other promising restaurants were (such as Tram Tram), and the San Lorenzo area, with its bloom of graffiti on every wall, looks sketchy enough at night that we didn't feel comfortable wandering. So we threw caution to the winds and went in, and the winds blew caution right back in our faces. The food was graceless, outsized, labored and not good; the service was perfunctory, if courteous. We left gloomy.

Friday

Osteria La Carbonara (Via Panisperna 214) just had their 100th anniversary last year and in all that time they haven't learned how to wait tables worth a damn. (It became a joke for us; after asking for il conto — the check — we started on a timer on Leslie's iPhone to see how long it would take; we gave up after 15 minutes.) But the long wait for lunch was redeemed by my pasta cacio e pepe and Leslie's spaghetti alla carbonara — both delectable, savory, and well-balanced. The guanciale of the spaghetti was particularly good, with a distinct, delicate porkiness. My pasta, house-made, was superb. The proprietress, a grizzled, stooped, charmless woman, gave us no quarter when we first arrived: she barked at us in Italian, waved impatiently at a table for two, snapped "no carciofi, no carciofi!" when I pointed to artichokes on the menu, but glowed like a putti when we exclaimed happily "Bene, bene!" after our first few bites.

We had a glass of wine before dinner at Al Vino Al Vino (Via dei Serpenti 19), a simple, pleasant wine bar with friendly, easy-going service.

At the seafood-specializing Il Tempio di Iside (Via Pietro Verri 11, off Via Labicana), the first half of our meal was overshadowed by a clot of 12 loutish soccer players from China, who drank, shouted and made infuriating merry at a long table across from us. When they finally left, the man behind us clinked his glass with his fork in celebration and would have risen to make a toast had his wife not restrained him. We started with a selection of 5 interesting seafood antipasti (including shrimp stuffed in a zucchini flower, battered and fried), along with raw scampi, split in half lengthwise and opened like a book — similar to ama ebi, with lemon but tasting more strongly of the sea. We followed with half a roast crab on a bed of tomato-sauced spaghetti — very delicious but very messy. I'm not sure if this is typical of the restaurant or if they simply felt we needed fortification after enduring the soccer players, but they placed an unusual three-tiered bottle (a tier of grappa, the next limoncello, and the last probably Fernet Branca) on the table and encouraged us to help ourselves ("It is yours! Try!") That put a nice cap on what began as a trying, clamorous meal.

Saturday

Cul de Sac (Piazza Pasquino 73) is unpretentious, simple, and good. We needed a sight-seeing break and ended up here since Da Baffeto was closed, and I measure ourselves lucky: wine, cheese and salumi sampler, and unctuous, sweet guanciale.

Before dinner, we took a cab to the charming Vinoteca Novecento (Piazza delle Coppelle 47). It's a welcoming, pleasant wine bar set in the busy, people-watching-friendly Piazza delle Coppelle. We really enjoyed it, and I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area for dinner.

La Buca di Ripetta (Via di Ripetta 36) was not so good. Somewhere I'd read that they'd changed management — maybe that explains it. The antipasto of smoked duck prosciutto was tasty but served bizarrely with a thump of mashed potatoes. The roast suckling pig had cooled just a little too long and the skin had begun to turn from delicately crispy to sticky and chewy. The "baked baby lamb" — in fact, lamb shank as far as we could tell — was uninteresting and, unfortunately, there was a huge mass of it. The service was bizarrely bipolar. Our first waiter was obsequious to the point of near servility — I half expected him to bow after each pour of wine. At some point through meal, though, he vanished, and a second waiter stepped in, archly informing us while serving our due espressi that "espresso is a strong Italian coffee, not weak like American" and then — snidely? — asking whether we desired milk with our coffee. No, grazie.

Sunday

Lunch was a quick bite at Il Brillo Parlante (Via della Fontanella 12, near Piazza del Popolo). We had bruschetta, pizza with zucchini flowers and anchovies, and pizza with prosciutto. Straightforward and tasty; no complaints.

Dropped by Al Vino Al Vino for a glass of wine, then strolled to dinner. Il Bocconcino (Via Ostilia 23) serves spectacular polpette (meatballs, in this case chicken and veal) scented with celery and cinnamon. Everything else was very good, in particular the lamb we shared as secondo piatto, and the service was courteous and efficient. It's open on Sundays, another plus.

Monday

La Forchetta d'oro (Via San Martino ai Monti 40) is a simple, very small, no-frills trattoria around the corner from Santa Maria Maggiore. When we arrived, a few Americans were desultorily shoveling down their stereotypical Italian tourist food, so we were somewhat trepidatious. However, there's a nice antipasti buffet, and when we gestured to it, the owner's face lit up like a Roman candle. Over time, more Romans dropped in for lunch, including one charming man who chatted amiably with the owner, scooped up a huge plate of octopus salad, covered it with a second plate, then waltzed down the vicolo.) Everything was good, including the bucatini all'Arrabiata which we shared after the antipasti, and the "fruit cup" — various diced melons marinated in sweet lemon juice. Good for when you're in the neighborhood and want something simple.

Before dinner, we dropped in again at Vinoteca Novecento for a glass of wine. Very nice, and the best part of the evening.

Il Bacaro (Via degli Spagnoli 27) was a big disappointment. I've seen the restaurant written up as serving "new twists on classic Roman cuisine"; unfortunately, it came across as simply boring. The flavors were simple, uncomplicated, and new perhaps only to children or the super-traditional trattoria set. Admittedly, the combinations sounded interesting: smoked goose carpaccio with peaches, pasta with bottarga and artichokes, Angus beef carpaccio with thinly sliced oranges, for example. Unfortunately, every dish, with the exception of the smoked eel carpaccio (dressed simply with olive oil), was, while pretty on the plate, lifeless and bland. In addition, the service for us was exceptionally poor. Our neighbors (very intimate outdoor seating) had received nearly their entire meal before we'd seen our antipasti. Even they, Italians and frequenters of the restaurant, were surprised at how long it took for us to receive parts of our meal, at one point interceding on our behalf. But ultimately, even if the service had been perfect, the food was not worth the bother.

Tuesday

By this point, I'd contracted a miserable cold, so we contented ourselves with a picnic lunch in our hotel room, sampling a variety of delicious breads, pizzas, rolls, and tarts from Panella (via Merulana 54), a fantastic bakery.

I'd been looking forward to Checchino dal 1887 (Via di Monte Testaccio 30), but, due either to my cold or the stuffy weather, it came across as flat and monochromatic. I had the tasting menu, Leslie à la carte. (It may be a "tasting" menu, but the portions were essentially full sized. It was a lot of food.) Leslie started with two lovely, translucent slices of head cheese, porky and slightly chewy, followed by pasta with oxtail sauce, then saltimbocca. My tasting menu started with insalata di zampi, a warm salad of beans, celery, and veal foot (boned) in a green sauce, the best dish of the set. Two pastas followed: bucatini alla gricia, which was too salty, and rigatoni con pajata — that's lamb intestines, in tomato sauce. Lamb intestines taste nothing like chicken; instead, these were tender, light, and had a slight sausage-y flavor. It made me wonder whether, in fact, they had actually been filled with something other than, I don't know, digested meadow grass. Next, a three-bone oxtail in a dense tomato sauce was paired with spicy sautéed chicory, but the flavors seemed like two single notes, wavering slowly into silence. By this point, I was very, very full. Two small pieces of cheese (one a soft fresh cheese, the other an older, quite salty one) with honey followed, and I wrapped up dinner with a small slice of torta di ricotta. The service was good, courteous, and one of the owners periodically dropped by our table to pour wine or bring grappa — he was gracious and pleasant. In fact, despite my comments, I'd recommend Il Checchino to anyone who loves offal; just look for a little more variation than the tasting menu offers.

Finally, as mentioned many places, the gelato from San Crispino (Via della Panetteria 42) is really, really good and granita caffé from Tazzo d'Oro (Via degli Orfani 84) is even better.

Edited by Derek (log)
If you want to be fed, be bread.
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Have lunch at least once at Sora Margherita in the ghetto. The lamb chops were well-done, salty, a little gristly and juicy and delicious. Agnolotti - outrageous. And a nice deep fried, slightly oily artichoke - what could be better for lunch in Roma? Then, head across the piazza to the Jewish bakery that Sora gets their breads from (I think it's called Antico Forno) and buy a few euros worth of their awesome cookies.

We really like Boccon Divino on Via del Pavone and have been back there on each of our last 3 visits. Traditional, inexpensive real Roman food.

Our favorite (sit-down) pizza meal is Da Francesco, in the Piazza del Fico, but on our visit just a few weeks ago, it's getting many more visitors from the states. For stand-up pizza, the Forno in the Campo de Fiori is classic, wonderful and not to be missed. BTW, their shop just across the way sells sandwiches made from the flat bread, and they're almost as good - though I prefer my 'za plain (or maybe with a bit of rosemary or tomato). Don't forget to buy some herbs from the Herb Man in the Campo, and revel in some beautiful fruit and vegetables, still handled with lots of loving care.

Chechino dal 1887, in Testaccio, did not live up to expectations, though a few of the pastas and a great wine list almost redeemed it. Instead, a much more down-to-earth and homey Augustarello on Via Giovanni Branca (and you should reserve) was the Fifth Quarter restaurant meal of our dreams...all sorts of innards and outards, cooked with loving care. And no wine list, just a sampling of their bottles on a table outside the kitchen, with the price scrawled on the label...ahhhh, Rome.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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  • 2 weeks later...

thank you weinoo for those suggestions. I'll keep them with my notes for this trip!

forgive me ellenesk but have you arranged for a special discount for 2 adjoining rooms at this hotel? I have speficially stayed away from hotel options as I've found the rates to be prohibitively expensive.

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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We are staying at the Ponte Sisto, off of the Ponte Sisto bridge.  I believe this is not too far from Trastevere.  We will have connecting rooms, as we are travelling with youg children.

I just googled your hotel, and you're going to be right near a restaurant that's very dear to my heart - Le Cave di Sant Ignazio. Although I haven't been there in many years (let's call it 17), I recently have corresponded with them online, and the now-grown family children are running the place, and according to the website, the restaurant seems to be going strong. I've probably had 50 dinners there (starting in the early 1970's) and have just the fondest memories of the place.

If you're one of those people who can read the "vibe" of a restaurant by strolling by, you might consider stopping by to check it out - the tiny Piazza di Sant Ignazio (which the restaurant front forms one side of) is well worth seeing at night anyway.

They told me that the parents are still there and remember me, though I don't know if Sabatino Sr. is still cooking. But if whoever is cooking is carrying on his tradition, you would be in for a great meal and a great Roman experience.

The restaurant has obviously expanded tremendously since I was there. I remember vividly that when the outdoor seating would fill up, the waiters would carry tables and chairs out to the empty parking spaces in the piazza and you'd eat in a parking space in a piazza that was dead-quiet except for the sounds of revelry from the restaurant, watching the facade of the Church of Sant Ignazio. I also remember that for as many nights as I was there, we were the only non-Italians, and after we had returned the third night in a row (we once did two weeks in a row, not counting their night closed, on which the chef sent us to his brother's restaurant) they "took us in" and made us part of the family, which meant there was no ordering from the menu - you sat, and they fed you until you were so full that you got up and walked away until they got the message and stopped sending food.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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