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Al Pompiere or Da Giggetto?

Going to Rome for 4 days and am obsessing about my restaurant choice. We only have time for one Jewish Ghetto restaurant - anyone have an opinion on which is better? I've already booked Pierluigi for one meal and Il Bacaro for another. I'm thinking of Matricianella for the last night or possible La Rosetta for fish but I'm open to other suggestions. Italian friends suggested Lagana or Corsetti but haven't found anything on either one. Also, have read good things about La Gensola. Anyone know if it's better than any of my other choices? Also, do I need to make reservations for all these places before I get there? Ah me, so much food, so little time. Thanks for any help.

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  1. Hi,

    I went to Da Giggetto last summer for a friend's birthday. Despite having made reservations, we had to wait about 45 minutes (we WERE a large group, about 10 - but it was obvious that they'd just lost the reservation). We were seated outside once they could push the tables together. I had the sweetbreads which were AWESOME and also a fried artichoke, which for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to eat. (It just seemed so sharp! That's probably my lack of expertise, not theirs!) Anyway, everyone seemed to really enjoy their food, including me, and the absolutely gorgeous setting. We tried to go back once but they were closed, so we went just next door (can't remember the name) - it was pretty awful and a worse deal for the price. So if you go, enjoy it, but don't go next door!


    1. We just returned and I went through the same process of agonizing over our one dinner in Rome. As it turned out, I had two (airline delay). La Matricianella was fabulous, near the spanish steps, wonderfully happy, delicious pasta with mushrooms and an artichoke appetizer served by fun waiter. We didn't feel we'd gone wrong. My other meal at Orzo 80 wasn't as rewarding. I had the much heralded antipasto and nothing tasted as flavorful as I'd hoped.

      1. We had a fine meal at Al Pompiere a few years back. Its a nice setting, upstairs in an old palace. At that time they offered a special tourist lunch deal - two courses, whichever you wanted - from their menu for a fixed price. Worked for us. their meats were excellent, the artichoke ditto. Must have been on a thursday because coda was on offer and was great.

        More recently, we walked by Da Gigetto at lunchtime - it was open but totally empty - went instead to Sora Margherita nearby and had an excellent meal in a packed, friendly room. So I cant comment on the food of the latter, only on their seeming lack of lunchtime popularity among locals during a non-tourist season. Maybe their prices are more geared to a fancy dinner.

        1. Da Gigetto: isn't this where they are eating in Fellini's Roma? Reason enough to eat there. But I think Al Pompiere might be slightly better quality (I've eaten at both but not on the same trip, so grain of salt). They are both great.

          Rosetta is great, but for me too expensive without being great enough to be so expensive. Matricianella is the way to go, and reserve ahead (you need not reserve from the States though). I would eat here every night of my life if I could.

          If you like adventurous cuts of meat, think of a meal at Checchino dal 1887, it is stupendous. One of the great restaurants in the world.

          6 Replies
          1. re: George

            i lived in rome for 5 years and da gigetto and al pompiere are both great and i think either will be a wonderful and delicious experience. in my opinion, al pompiere is a more formal place and da gigetto seems more roman and lively. i also think the fried artichokes are better at da gigetto. if you have time, explore the monti area. good restaurants and a good wine bar. if its your first time in rome, try to go to trastevere to eat and walk around.

            enjoy rome!

            1. re: Romana

              Can you provide names of restaurants in the Monti area. There have been posts on la Forchetta d'Oro, Trattoria Monti (why can't I find this place when I go to the specified address - always seems there is a metal shutter door - am I missing something?), and La Cicala e La Formica. Do you have others? Will be there in early December and would like to find some new places.

              1. re: CJT

                An article on Monti in the NYT from May - Taverna Romana (Via Madonna dei Monti, 79, 39-06-474-5325)

                1. re: CJT


                  Trattoria Monti is located at Via San Vito 13a and their phone number is 06-446-6573. A good wine bar I sued to go to in Monti was Al Vino Al Vino, cant remember exact address. Another good place to eat in Rome where my Roman friends would take me to is the Celio area, near the Colliseum. There are 2 good restaurants side by side on Via Celimontana called Pizzeria Luzzi and Le Naumachie. When I lived in Rome from 1998-2003 everyone was Italian when I ate there. I am Italian/Canadian and speak Italian so it was fine for me. The waiters all spoke the Roman dialect and it was always lively. Last year, I vacationed in Italy and ate al both these places and surprisingly there were lots of tourists and the restaurants lost some of their Roman charm. The food was still very good and prices were also reasonable. Perhaps they were mentioned in a guide book....who knows?

                  1. re: Romana

                    We had a couple meals at Trattoria Luzzi over Christmas holidays 2004-5, with a big family group - we were renting in the nabe, highly recommended. It was cheap and local but the pizzas were not outstanding, salads minimal and other dishes acceptable but not outstanding - if you go there, look around and see what the locals are ordering, offmenu. The grilled fish was quite good. For Pizza in that area, we preferred Pizzeria Forum, on the first long block of Via San Giovanni Laterano up from the Colosseum - it looks dubious and touristic when you look in - the main dining area is in the rear. Servers are mostly from the balkans so there can be language issues, but the place IS neapolitan and the pizza, thicker and breadier than the thin Roman version, can be good. There is also a good bakery on that block, selling bread from the Castelli Romani by the kg. - the Genzano is particularly delicious (Volpetti is also a source for these great breads) When we were there they were serving pasta alla vongole to tables of italian businessmen as well as a neapolitan christmas bread of which they were very proud - good!. There apps on display, not on menu, also looked good.

                    ps, Tratt Luzzi is in TimeOut - maybe that explains the tourists.

                    Cant comment of LeNaumachie, tho it was on our corner and mostly empty when we walked by, it was mobbed on New Years Eve .

                2. re: Romana

                  What restaurants would you recommend in the Trastevere area? My daughter is there as an exchange student living in an apartment in Trastevere. She just arrived there and is moving into her apartment today. She'll have 5 weeks there and will have a side trip to Florence.

              2. I can't comment on Da Giggetto, but had a great meal at Al Pompiere last January. We were there for a lunch, and it was nearly empty ( as were most places that time of year). We had the wonderful fried artichoke to start, and I had one of the best spaghetti carbonaras that I have ever had in my life. It was really rich tasting without being overly heavy.

                Hope this helps...

                1. Just returned last week. I had lunch at Al Pompiere by myself ---- fried artichoke, squash blossom, baccala, and then the lamb with artichokes and olives. Wonderful, fantastic meal in a beautiful location. Also had dinner one evening at Al Rampa near the Spanish Steps, and had the plate of appetizers ---- must have had 40 choices in the antipasto buffet. Be sure to go to San Crispino's and have the merinue and hazelnut gelato. Enjoy!

                  1. Thanks to all for your responses. We just got back from Italy and I have a few recommendations of my own. For hotel: In spite of some bad reviews on this site, we adored Hotel Raphael. It's in a perfect spot just off Piazza Navona but on a quiet side street. We walked everywhere. The rooms (at least the deluxe) are designed by Richard Meier so they're quite austere, which at first was disconcerting in lavishly decorated Rome. But the room was large, truly comfortable, and the bathroom -- with double sinks, double shower and a tub that fit two -- both efficient and romantic. Service was discreetly good without being unctuous or overbearing. Not cheap, but well worth it. Restaurants (all in the area): Montevecchio - tiny and good, lots of Italians.
                    Pierluigi - filled with tourists, but in fact, had a fabulous pasta with truffles that was the high point of this trip. And considering what truffles cost in the U.S., it was amazingly cheap (25E) for a truly smothered dish.
                    Quinzi & Gabrielli - Good, but not great. Especially not if you've eaten at Le Bernardin or anything like it. Decor is kind of shabby and they try to make it more by decking the waiters out in tuxedos. Service good but just a little too faux friendly. Still convivial, although mostly tourists and not entirely worth the money.
                    Angoletto - my absolute favorite, recommended by the concierge (!), in a tiny piazza off the Pantheon. Mostly Italians, truly happy friendly service, great vongole veraci. I wanted more truffles but they were out of them and the waiter actually tried to call a friend at another restaurant to see if he could get them for me. I settled for porcinis which were, in fact, divine.
                    Also, had a great tour of the Jewish Ghetto with Micaela Pavoncello (www.jewishroma.com) whose family has been there for many generations. It's expensive (especially when you consider you can join a group tour for 12E)but it's a truly personal/edgy point of view. It's also fun to see how everyone in the ghetto seems to know her and love her.
                    So much to do, so little time. Have to go back.

                    1. la gensola is brilliant. our waiter mario is quite a character... if you can't entirely comprehend italian, he's happy to help decipher the menu and makes excellent suggestions. la gensola was by far the best restaurant we ate at while in rome and it is remarkably affordable. it's clear that great care goes into making the meal...we had perfectly tender and crispy fried baby squids, the best carbonara we've ever eaten...not too heavy, with a fantastically flavorful bacon, also, rigatoni with monkfish ragu was heavenly. then sea bass and a chocolate cake that was light and warm...served with fresh whipped cream. i wish every meal we had in rome was that good! avoid at all costs da gigetto if great food is an object. it's terribly touristy (some italians out front but mostly tourists inside and out back) and a very poor value. the food is bland. seems hastily prepared. everything about it unremarkable including the atmosphere (despite it's appearance in one of cinema's great classic films.). the food was beyond mediocre.... i felt like we were eating at a tourist trap in little italy or the north end. we came to rome for this? so sadly, its reputation exceeds reality. the fried artichokes are ok. not stellar. however, the other restaurant we loved( in addition to gensola, our number one pick) is osteria del pegno not far from via coronari. sea bass with a potato crust. wow! fabulous. we didn't love the rabbit, (too bony but perfectly prepared) but the pastas, contorni and antipasto were all wonderful. romantic spot, too. a rare combo of nice atmosphere and stellar food. not super warm service, but not rude either. and as others have mentioned, cul de sac near the piazza navona is a nice place to cool off and have a solid meal when walking about the city.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: eardog

                        Yup, Mario is right out of "Prizzi's Honor." Affable and spot on with his recs. We had a very nice lunch at Gensola last year. Claudio, the owner/chef, is also quite a character. Animated and bearded. Cranks out nice Sicilian seafood dishes.

                        The key to Giggetto is to grab a ring side seat outside facing the great sights - Synagogia, Teatro, Portico d'Ottavia - and don't stray from basic offerings (fried artichokes).