I will be travelling to Rome in a couple weeks and have wittled down the restaurants to these:
Out of these 3, pick 1 for a splurge
La Pergola- Live up to it's hype?
Agata e Roma
Il Convivio Troiani
The others involved are:
Pizzeria Baffeto (for pizza)
Cul de Sac
Cecio de Pepe
Will probably definitely try Baffeto and Al 34 (friend's recommendation) but outside of that, I'd like to try maybe a couple more of them on the list. I'm leaning towers either Al Presidente or Ditirambo as 1 of them. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.
Pergola is very good, excellent food (not particularly italian though), formal service etc but has always left me kind of cold, I don't really like Agata e Romeo, especially for the amount of money it costs. I'd go with Convivio probably.
Here's an off the wall suggestion - why not grab a car and drive into umbria (about 1 1/2 hours traffic permiting) and eat at Vissani. I beleive they are open for lunch at least on the weekends, you could check on the other days.
As for your other choices
I like Ditrambo quite a bit, although you will normally find more foreigners there than italians.
Cul de Sac is fun (try il goccetto on via dei banchi vecchi also for wine and good salamis and cheeses)
I used to really like AL presidente, but I have had 2 disappointing meals and soso service there this year (although big bonus they are open sunday). Ditrambo is more trattoria style, Presidente more restuarant.
Al 34 - ok but touristy
Soro Margharita - good cheap roman cooking (only open at lunch)
In the monti area, good and popular on this board is Trattoria Monti.
I am also really liking these days Il Pagliaccio on Via dei Bianchi Vecchi. It's a bit fusiony, but the food is very good and the pastry chef is terrific. Service can be slow as they are small, but if you can live with that...
Went to La Pergola 2 years ago. It was very good, but probably not worth the money in a city with a lot of great food. Service was impeccable. There were several pretentious touches, like the menu of 20 types of water - each with the mineral breakdown in grams. Pre-dessert was a winner at our table. They brought out silver boxes with 10-15 drawers on all sides; each drawer contained a treat - a big hit with my desert-loving wife.
If you're looking for fancy, special occassion, it fits the bill, but the bill will be large. (And take lots of cash, because you can't tip on the credit card).
I've never been Pergola -- too far, too expensive. At Agata and Romeo I ate in 2002, and liked it. My regular fine dining spluge is Il Convivio: excellent location, outstanding food, superior service, and a very wise wine bar. I first ate here 1998, and have been back almost every year, once even for my birthday, which the chef honored on my desert. I last ate here March 2006. The quality remains.
Cul de Sac is more of a wine bar than a restaurant, altho their menu is more extensive than most, and has always been for us a wonderful spot for a casual, light, inexpensive meal.
Agata and Romeo has been catching some flack on this board lately. I haven't been there in several years, when it was my restaurant of choice for interesting, upscale dining in Rome. It remains quite expensive, tho, and I would seek out as many current reviews as possible before reserving.