Wine Bars in Rome: Embarrassingly Simple Question
Is a visit to a wine bar in Rome in lieu of dinner? or is it more of a lunch/late afternoon visit? Is the food served comparable to tapas in size and vibe? Is there a "best" time of day for a wine bar?
It's actually not a simple question. The wine bar hasn't had time to fully evolve yet, so it hasn't got a clear slot in the gastronomic day. Some of them are good for light lunches (Cavour 313 is one, Cul de Sac probably), and you can certainly get a nice hot meal for lunch or dinner at Cul de Sac. Others, I think the majority, do more in the cheese and salami department, which is probably closer to tapas, but the real tapas in Italy are the cicheti of Venice and nothing you'll find in Rome, except maybe some very new places I haven't been to yet. My impression is yes, it's in lieu of dinner, as long as you've had a decent lunch. I have also been to wine bars for an aperitif on the way to dinner, but for that I'd go early, before the crowd that's planning to sit there all evening arrives. Between lunch and cocktail hour, they are probably closed. However, as I said, these places are still evolving and there aren't uniform practices as for trattorias and restaurants and regular bars.
At both Cavour and Cul de Sac we've had very satisfying light, leisurely dinners by ordering and sharing various platters in succession--pates, salumi, formaggi--accompaned by glasses of wine. We've had similar experiences elsewhere in Italy where we've asked for a sequence of dishes and placed ourselves in the hands of the server, so far always with good results.There are also restaurants--such as Orso 80--where you can make meals of antipasti, which perhaps comes a bit closer to tapas
We have had good luck at Ferrara on P Trilussa in Trastevere (or at least on the edge) near the Ponnte Sixto. The wine selection is good but a little high priced until they start bring the snacks. THey just kkep on coming. Hope that one of them is Alici Fritti - fried anchovies ina cornmeal crust. THe night they were offered, no one else really wanted them so the woman handing them out came back to us time and time again and we ate and ate! This was on our last trip to roma in 2003 or early 2004 so they may not be still as generous. We ahve only gone there for the wine bar and not the restaurant which seemed high priced and very modern in its apporach.