I'm going to Rome and Florence for a week in July. What are the best reccomendations for two great restaurants, lunch alfresco, street food and vendors, and places for lunch that we usually think of for dinner? Is La Pergola a must? What delicacies must be had? What gourmet items must come home?
La Pergola, Agata, Convivio, and L'Altro Mastai are superb restaurants by any standard (i.e., not "for Rome"). La Pergola is a must if you are a collector of three-stars (a hobby which I am not knocking), but if you have two dinners, two of the others will be perfectly satisfying. Likewise, outside Rome, Antonello Colonna and Le Colline Ciociare. It's too hot in July to eat lunch outdoors unless you take a sandwich to a shady spot in a park. I really can't think of any outdoor eateries with lots of shade and good food. Paris, in Trastevere, might be OK for that. Scarpone on the Gianicolo has a lovely garden but the food is only so-so. Another garden I wish someone would try and let me know about is Romolo at Porta Settimiana in Trastevere, where I haven't been in some 30 years. There must be others that don't come to mind. Rome is not big on street food, but the Antico Forno in Campo de' Fiori has an annex where they sell ready-filled pizza bianca. For prosciutto, cheese, etc., I always go to Volpetti, but there are also good shops on Campo de' Fiori and elsewhere. Volpetti also has a tavola calda around the corner.
I’ve never been to La Pergolia, largely because were I to do so, I fear my banker would call me in and discuss my credit.
The best suppers that I have had in Rome, in terms of fine dining, ranked from the very best down:
1. Il Convivio-Troiani, Vicolo dei Soldeati 31 Tel 06 68 69 432 (Cl SU and MO lunch) *Michelin. I eat here every time I am in Rome, last Jan 2007. Expensive.
2. Agata e Romeo *Michelin. via Carlo Alberto 45. Expensive
3. Chechino dal 1887. Via Monte Testaccio. 30. Tel. 06 574 6318. cl SU, MO.
Especially reasonable wine prices Expensive. Last here 2007
For lunch as if a supper: L'Archeologia. Via Appia Antica 139, Rome, Italy Phone: 06 78 80 494. March 2006 I was hot, tired, and sweaty after walking the Appian Way, though not slovenly dressed. I was treated well and ate even better.
For lunch as if a supper: Dal cavalier Gino, Vicolo Rosini 4 ( a narrow alley off piazza del Parlamento) Tel. 06 6873434. Last here Jan 2007
When I eat alfresco, I like Di Rienzo, Piazza del Pantheon 8/9 Tel 06 68 69 097, but only in the evening: the street life is more interesting then, and the sight of the world’s greatest surving building from antiquity lit up just can’t be missed. Ask to be seated on the edge to see that building unobstructed.
I have posted elsewhere on Chowhound my dining experience in Rome.
when i think of rome, words like "best" or "great" never come to mind: comfortable and pleasant are words that do. to that end, take some time to walk the market at the campo de' fiori before noon. get to know the area and stop for a porchetta sandwich and a beer at the aristo campo. sit outdoors on the side of the building. go for the salumi and a chilled tocai if it's a hot day (practically guaranteed in July).
after your lunch, pop around the corner to Ditirambo and make a reservation for dinner that evening. the caccio e peppe is a wonderful primo. go with the grilled fish as your secondo. the wine list is moderate in price and well thought out. after dinner, stroll over to the piazza navona, then the pantheon, then trevi fountain. eat gelato.
if you enjoy wine, find time to visit the trimani wine bar. it's near the train station. the wine is the draw but the food is really good. the adjacent wine shop is superb and should give you some ideas for gourmet items to bring home.