We had some amazing food in Rome. Our key strategy was to try and wander away from tourist areas, and listen out for Italian speaking diners. Not exactly rocket science, but it’s led us to a few lovely little places.
We stumbled across this gorgeous little trattoria on our first night in Rome, and what a find. We were the only non-Italians in the place, it was one of the cheapest meals we’ve had (pasta for 5.50 euro), and the food was delicious. With meats hanging up on the wall, bread and cheese on the counter along with a barrel of wine, the effect was of an intimate yet low key trattoria.
We started off with some fresh bread and a large carafe of house red wine. The house wines in Italy so far are roughly a million times nicer than house wine in Melbourne, although I suspect a couple of them (not at this restaurant) have been watered down a bit.
I had pasta carbonara for dinner, and I can honestly say it was the best pasta I’ve had so far. Slightly chewy pasta, but no crunchiness (so I’d say it was freshly made), with an egg base, cheese, crunchy pork morsels and no cream in sight. It made me wonder why carbonara usually has cream in it, it was SO much better this way. Rich in the best kind of way, and so simple.
Via Tacito, 54
Go to the Top
This was a recommendation from Gourmet Traveller magazine, and I’m so glad we took the time to find this place – it was an absolute highlight.
Firstly, this is so much more than a restaurant – it’s a deli, a cheese shop, a bread shop, a gourmet foodstore, and a wine shop, with tables tucked in around all this amazing produce.
We sat at the bar, which was great as we could watch the front of house chefs creating antipasti platters and other cold entrees. They clearly love the produce they are working with, and everything is plated up beautifully.
The atmosphere and vibe of the place alone is enough to make you want to hang out all afternoon, which s pretty much what we did.
We were given some ricotta that was deliciously smooth and creamy as a free starter to go with the house bread. We then moved onto tuna with artichoke hearts and pickled onion – I loved this dish.
We also had anchovies with lemon zest on thin crispbread and a side of olives, which was a salty, citrus joy.
For mains Dan had spaghetti Gricia, a Rome specialty (along with carbonara and amatriciana), that had the most amazing crunchy pork bites. I had a butter and parmesan penne, and sadly found it a bit disappointing, it was too creamy and the sauce was a bit watery. It was nice but not amazing. It was the only downside to the experience.
We were given little biscotti with melted chocolate on the house, which was a lovely touch. It was a bit like Italy’s version of churros. We finished off with an espresso and the manager gave us a half glass of a sweet local chardonnay based dessert wine.
The staff were really lovely and accommodating, very attentive. While we were there the place was swarmed with about 20 eager tourists all falling over one another to buy hams. They infiltrated the kitchen area of the bar, overwhelming the poor chefs, demanding tastes of many different types of hams, trying to haggle on set prices, and generally getting in the way of the waiting staff. For us it was quite hilarious, and the staff took it in their stride, being exceedingly patient. When we left they were still dealing with the last of the ham buyers, who had been in there for at least half an hour.
This was one of the best overall dining experiences we’ve had and I would recommend Roscioli to everyone.
Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22
We needed to find somewhere for dinner and to watch the world cup semi final (Nederlands vs Argentina), so we left our hotel in search of somewhere. The streets across the river from the Saint Angelo castle were almost empty and we were almost ready to give up, when we came across a couple of streets with a bit of life. We walked past one restaurant that had a few people outside it, and peered inside. It would not have been out of place in the streets of Melbourne, with its mix of tables, couches and a counter, dimmed lighting, bookshelves, dark wood ceilings and chandeliers. A lone disco ball on the roof was a tad out of place.
It looked good and there was also a big TV installed with the football on, so we grabbed a table. We were lucky as about 15 minutes after we sat down there was a rush on tables and they all filled up.
I had a spinach salad with bacon, cheese, orange and croutons, all very fresh and tasty. I loaded it up with Modena balsamic and it was a delicious reprieve from the extreme amounts of carbs we’ve been consuming.
Dan had a pasta with olive oil, chilli and garlic, which was deliciously simple.
The restaurant made for interesting people watching, with all sorts there. We were seated near two Australian girls, with one talking incessantly at the other about her single life. Behind us was a loved up couple who looked more like father and daughter- slightly icky. There were Dutch at the bar who sang the national anthem loudly and proudly to all us diners. Great wine topped off a really fun night.
Viccolo delle Vacche 9/9A
I’d read great reviews about this place so we decided to go with some of Dan’s mates who were in Rome for the night. Urbana 47 are all about seasonal, local produce.
I had clam spaghetti that was really delicious, but the reviews around the table were mixed.
An eggplant ravioli was apparently very nice but not a very big serve. About halfway through dinner, there was a blackout in the restaurant, and the service staff never really recovered, we almost had to beg them to pay attention to us so we could pay the bill and leave. I would definitely give this place another go as my spaghetti was really great, with fresh clams and a really clean olive oil based sauce.
This photo is actually us at another restaurant where we had dessert!
Via Urbana, 47
Other special mentions:
– We had an amazing lunch near the colosseum, but then stupidly forgot to write down the name of the restaurant. Up the hill behind the colosseum, around a few corners and at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. Avoid the restaurants along the way that proudly proclaim “no frozen pizza!” I had the cacio e pepe e pachino, which was delicious, and Dan had the orecchiette con spada, zucchini e olive. It was all delicious and I’m kicking myself for not taking down the name of the restaurant.
On one of our days of wandering around, we had an espresso from a random coffee shop, and it was delicious. If you find a good espresso in Italy it needs no sugar and is seriously delicious. Once again, I forgot to write down the name of the shop!
Updates on our time in Sorrento / the Amalfi Coast, and Tuscany are on the way 🙂 we arrived in the Cinque Terre this afternoon and are looking forward to exploring it tomorrow. We had some torrential rain today though so are hoping that the weather improves before the morning.