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Rome Restaurants -- Concierge Recommendations -- What Do You Think?

After much research on this board and others, I contacted our concierge at the St. Regis Grand in Rome and asked for his recommendations for two dinners (one in Trastevere, the other near Piazza Navona or the Pantheon.) We are looking for excellent food, service and ambience. We want to walk and explore Rome before or after dinner, and therefore, we are not looking for a 3-hour dining extravaganza. Price is not as important as quality, service and comfort. Here are the restaurants the Concierge recommended (some of which I have seen discussed on these boards, others unknown to me.) What would you advise?

"Upscale" Restaurants:
1. Antica Pesa (Trastevere)
2. Piperno (Jewish Ghetto)
3. Il Cantuccio (Piazza Navona)
4. Al Moro (Trevi Fountain) * I did see discussion about the staff at Al Moro being snippy and indifferent?

"Casual" Restaurants:
1. La Pentolaccia (near St. Regis Grand)
2. Santopadre (10 minutes walk from St. Regis Grand)
3. Nino (Spanish Steps)
4. Pierluigi (Campo dei Fiori)

I also asked the Concierge about Antico Arco (Trastevere) and Quinzi e Gabrieli (Pantheon). He agreed that these restaurants are both "very good," and then, he added his own suggestions.

I am totally overwhelmed with restaurants! That's why we take cruises -- so that we don't have to decide where to eat each night. Please help and advise what to do! Thank you!

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  1. I, too, am interested in any comments on Antico Arco.

    1. We were in Rome last week and had 2 wonderful dinners. Il Pagliaccio on Via dei Banchi Vecchi near Piazza Navona ---creative cooking in a cool space and Baby in Hotel Aldrovani in the Parioli area. Neither place is like a typical Roman restaurant!

      4 Replies
      1. re: trav

        Please tell me more about Baby - is that operated by the Iaccarino family from Don Alfonso? Thanks, Jeremy

          1. re: trav

            How does it compare to Don Alfonso?

      2. I highly recommend Qunizi e Gabrieli. It's an upscale restaurant with wonderful service. They specialize in seafood. I first questioned about it since Rome is not exactly next to any large body of water, but I was overwhelmed by this place. Lobster spaghetti and linguine with clams were one of a kind. I have not had anything that great here in the States. For appetizer, we had a platter of raw fish which did not taste like Japanese sashimi. I guess seafood there is totally different than seafood here in the States.

        1 Reply
        1. re: poisontea

          "I first questioned about it since Rome is not exactly next to any large body of water...." Check your geography the Med. is 20 minutes away.

        2. Im sympathetic with your difficulty in making this choice. We could start whole threads about whether concierge recommendations are reliable in looking for good food or how to find a good restaurant in Rome. There are online or paper guides geared to American Tourists (Fodors, etc) there are European or Local guides (Gambero Rosso, Michelin, Espresso, Veronelli, etc) and then there are discussion boards like this that are focussed on food where you can receive personal recommendations. and there is the fallback of the concierge recommendation. Each of these sources has its limitation and advantage.

          A boards like this tend to develop favorites and we dont have the massive numbers to know everything about all the restaurants in a city the size of Rome. There are lots or restaurants that I know are well respected, from Slowfood, Gambero Rosso and other sources, that I have never seen discussed. On the other hand, At least if you use a resource like this Board you will know that the person giving the recommendation really cares about food- and will normally be scrupulous in recommendations.

          On-line and paper guides are also limited - they cannot review and rate every restaurant, so there are going to be many, even very good ones that are not covered. and they do not always catch up with changes. In Italy, I would tend to rely more on local guides like Gambero Rosso and Slowfood than the american books.

          About concierge recommendations, a concierge theoretically is close to the ground and should know whats good, right? But I wonder whether a concierge has been to the restaurants he recommends, second, he may have received a consideration to recommend certain places and third, his job is to please the tourists and place them somewhere that tourists tend to be pleased. Since not all tourists are chowhounds and tourists tend to want to eat in the most touristy places (such as piazza navona) a concierge's recommendations are likely to be canted that way.

          If you want to be near the Pantheon/Piazza Navona and not pay too much, I will recommend my old favorite, Armando al Pantheon. Its been written about a lot here - its pleasant, civilized, non-glitzy, with classic roman food, and is not particularly expensive. Indoor dining only.

          For what its worth, my Gambero Rosso 2005, for Rome lists and rates both Antico Arco and Quinzi e Gabrieli as well as Armando al Pantheon while none of the others recommended by your concierge are listed.

          Good luck and enjoy.

          1. Antica Pesa no longer exists, I believe.
            Piperno is very good. Il Cantuccio looks like a bordello from the outside, so I have never gone in, but someone recently said they'd had a good meal. Al Moro is unreliable, occasionally brilliant, but but but.

            Never heard of Casual 1 and 2. Nino is faux casual, with some glitzy people, many tourists, inexplicable fame. It's a good old classic, part Tuscan, hanging in there for generations. I think I may have eaten at Pierluigi decades ago but have never managed to get back. Americans love it, and I haven't spoken to any Italians who have been there. (I'm not being snotty, it's sheer demographics.)

            Antico Arco is on the Giancolo and is very good.
            Quinzi e Gabrieli is generally considered to be awful and expensive, and that was certainly my one experience. FWIW it lost its Michelin star at some point and I don't know whether it has got it back. Another poster writes of a good experience, so maybe the crisis is over.
            Concierges are generally the last people you should ask, except if you just need to know about a place around the corner because you're hungry.