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report on rome April 24 - May 2 2007

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First of all, thanks to all the posters on Chowhound. I carried the 16-page printout with me to guide our choices. In return, here is my report on Rome April 24-May 2, 2007. Be forewarned - long. I think this is where it belongs, though I first posted on someone else's "Rome Restaurants." (For some context as Sid provided, this is my first post; our first time in Rome in 40 years; couple in our sixties; rented an apartment at the top of Spanish Steps; ate much too much salami and buffalo mozzarella in between dining out.)

Antica Trattoria Trilussa (Via di Ponte Sisto, 80, tel. 06 5883411) is not mentioned by name here. Recommended by a local, it should be. Had a fine Roman artichoke and delicious simple fresh handmade pasta with cherry tomatoes and cheese (Pasta Fatta (?). For dessert, to-die-for panna cotta with wild strawberries.

Still full at dinnertime and craving soup and only soup, we waltzed into the Hassler rooftop, saying from the beginning that we were only interested in soup. The only choice was a complex watercress soup with medlars -- some kind of citrus, according to the waiter. Wikopedia says related to quince. Memorable snack. Our mingy order came book-ended by an amuse-bouche (shrimp in parsnip puree and plum sauce topped with something crunchy, probably fried parsnip shreds) and a tray of tiny pastry. Because we didn’t feel like drinking, this fine dining experience cost “only” 80 Euros. Other than a group talking Microsoft business and us, there was no Amer. Eng. spoken here. A bit formal for our taste but enjoyable experience.

At Gusto the white pizza trumped the red and the bruschetta with white bean puree w. mint and basil trumped both. Perhaps because we arrived just as they opened at 7:30, service was efficient and we thought prices reasonable. Gets my recommendation.

Panella (Largo Leopardo, 4 at the corner of Merulana) may be billed as the “most expensive pastry shop in Italy” but for two simple hit-the spot pastries and two caffe lattes it was 5.40 euros. Yum.

We stumbled on Al Pompiere in the ghetto for Saturday lunch and found it as billed by others on this post: pleasant, reasonable, filled with Italian families of varying ages. Good fried artichoke, grilled lamb. Could have skipped the tiramisu.

Best meal was Trattoria Monti. I agree with others here about misses but as Frank Bruni says, it is all done with “grace and ease.” We called two hours ahead for Sunday lunch, a good thing since those without reservations were turned away, even though they didn’t sell every table, keeping empty spaces between groups which were other Italian tourists but no other Americans). The onion flan and the ravioli with egg are outstanding, but not the special – chicken in tomato sauce – which I found dry and harsh-tasting but after the first two courses, I didn’t care. My husband’s pig, also a special, wasn’t my favorite, but he loved every bite. His first course, another special, gnocchi stuffed with potato and ham was ok but not as good as the standard dishes I ordered. Conclusion: if you have one shot at a restaurant, don’t order the special of the day. Meant to write down the name of the wonderful white wine “with a bit of acid” from the Marche region, but I got distracted. Point being one of the brothers took an interest in helping us find something delicious and succeeded.

Unless there are two restaurants that serve pasta in pans, I think Taverna Trilussa (Via del Politeama,Trastevere, 06 581-8918) is the one mentioned here as being good but overcharging. (Our double-checked our bill was reasonable.) Italian tourists here but no other Americans. At this lunch, I picked out a white wine from their extensive wine list and asked for a half-bottle. I was brought a whole bottle to approve. The waiter opened it in front of me and poured half into a pitcher. The charge was 1 Euro more than the exact half-price. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the bottle but the wine was just right, both amount and taste. I still have cravings for their fried mozzarella. The pasta and artichoke were fine but not as fresh-tasting as our nearby first-day favorite (Antica Trattoria Trilussa) where an electrical blackout had forced them to close for lunch, alas.

Our last meal was a disappointment and our most expensive. The Roman holiday meant some closings and we were casting around for a neighborhood choice. At 6:00 pm when I called, Ninos couldn’t serve us until 9:30 so Tullios it was. There was an Italian foursome in our non-smoking room, but only one; everyone else was American, all dressed in their tourist best. (I liked the fashion show but not that I could have been in my home city.) The two soups we ordered were bland and not worth consuming. My veal chop was good enough and so was the spinach side. My husband liked his cannelloni but nothing special. The waiter was totally uninterested in helping choose a wine and while we had two half bottles (red and a white) opened in front of us, they were both undrinkable. I need instruction from Chowhound on how to do wine in Rome.

Like another poster (on this thread or not), we kept prices in control because we shared and didn’t order everything possible. We did order enough to discard the “mistakes” and still be well-fed, even over-fed.

Of course we had amazing pear gelato (?) at San Crispino (near Trevi) and wonderful coffee at Sant’Eustachio. We also had some “typica” neighborhood experiences with a friend that were not at all touristy but also not high enough on the “foodie” scale to report. Trip was much fun. Can’t wait to go back.

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elizabeth2929 May 06, 2007 11:27AM

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