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Sep 7, 2007 11:21 AM

Rome restaurants: our "thinking about trying list", comments?

We’ll be returning to Rome for the first two weeks in November, our third two-week stay in Rome in the last three years. I’ve started doing the research on new places to visit and places to revisit. Anybody been to, or familiar with, the following places on our “thinking about trying” list:

1. Hosteria degli Artisti, via Germano Sommeiller 6, Neoploitan
2. Da Settimio all’Arancio, via dell’Arancia 50, traditional Romana
3. Il Dito e la Luna, via dei Sabelli 51, Sicilian
4. Domencio dal 1968, via Satrico 23, neighborhood trattoria
5. La Tana dei Golosi, via di San Giovanni in Laterano 220, menu changes every two weeks focusing on a different area of Italy
6. Tutti Frutti, via Luca della Robbia 3A, casual trattoria
7. Da Bucatino, via Luca della Robbia 84-6, traditional Romana

We’re also thinking about going out to
8. Citta del Gusto, via Enrico Fermi 161, Gambero Rosso’s former warehouse complex that has Teatro del Vino (wine bar) and L’Osteria del Gambero Rosso, small menu paired with wines. There are also cooking and wine- tasting courses, along with a teatro della cucina with demonstration chefs and a retail area.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I think it's an odd list, though I haven't been to most of the places on it. Nos. 1 and 4 I have almost never even heard of. No. 2 I decided I disliked umpteen years ago and haven't been back. There is another Settimio, on via del Pellegrino, that is supposed to be a very good trat, but I haven't managed to get there yet. No. 3 used to be a fave, but the service was so slow my husband couldn't stand it, plus you have to schlep to San Lorenzo, but I'm sure it's worth a try. No. 5 I have walked past several times and thought 'maybe' but it didn't really inspire confidence. No. 6 I don't know at all, despite spending a lot of time on that street. No. 7 I used to love but haven't been in a while. It's not that great, but has its points and I wouldn't hesitate to go if I was in the neighborhood looking for a trattoria. I would not take a taxi there. As for no. 8, I haven't been, except for a mediocre light lunch in the osteria three or four years ago. I would be curious, but if I were that curious, I would probably already have gone.

    1. My first question is, which places are on your "revisit" list? It will give me a better picture of your tastes and neighborhoods. My second question is, where are you staying? The reason I ask this second question is bc Rome has good restaurants everywhere, and there is so much to see and do (which I am sure you already know) that I am not sure I would spend too much time traveling around to find relatively obscure restaurants. I like to be able to walk outside and wander, and I think that Rome is great for that when you're in central neighborhoods. As far as this list is concerned, I like #s 2, 3, and 7. I have never been to the rest. Let me know where you are staying, and where you are going, and which dishes you particularly like, if any, and I'd be happy to help.

      11 Replies
      1. re: vvvindaloo

        Thank you for your offer to help. (1) We are staying for two weeks in an apartment between the Campo and Largo Argentina. (2) Restaurants we have gone to: Da Sergio, Da Francesco, Costanza, Ditirambo (so, so), Da Lucia (so, so), Dar Poeta (won't go back), Armando, Cul du Sac, Colline Emiliane, Albistro, La Taverna Degli Amici, and some others I can't seem to remember right now. (3) I came across the names of the above in a recent edition of a Rome guidebook, Real Rome. The restaurant section was written by Sylvie Hogg I believe (a friend of Frank Bruni). I was interested in finding out if any of these restaurants were of sufficient merit to take us into an area of Rome where we had not been before. (4) For some reason that I cannot fathom at the moment we've not yet been to Testaccio; we'll definitely go there this year.

        1. re: NWPeter

          OK, that helps. Beginning with your immediate neighborhood, which I will call Campo/Navona/Argentina, here is a list of restaurants you have not mentioned, and of which I am a big fan (regular or repeat customer):

          *Ostaria ar Galletto (corner of Piazza Farnese and vicolo del Gallo). Nothing fancy, just a "real" ostaria where locals are happy to eat their main meal of the day, accompanied by many foreigners due to its central location and excellent reputation. Get the Cacio e Pepe and expect to be treated with the kind of indifference you might encounter at home, if you know what I mean.
          *Hosteria del Pesce (via Monserrato). The best seafood I have ever had in Rome, in an atmosphere that is part taverna/part trendy. A little expensive, but worth it.
          *Perluigi (via Monserrato @ Piazza Ricci). Classic restaurant on residential street, with picturesque courtyard seating in good weather. Many tourists and business travelers eat here, but so do Italians (I should know- I used to live across the street). The food is simple and excellent, and the service is some of the best in the city.
          *Al Bric (via del Pellegrino, near Piazza della Cancelleria). Upscale, but comfortable "wine cellar" setting lends itself to a cozy experience while you enjoy typical Roman preparations as well as Tuscan, plus an incredible wine list with cheese tasting options. Fairly expensive.
          *Piperno (don't recall exact address, Jewish Ghetto, near L. Argentina). The best Roman Jewish food- must have the artichokes- in all of Rome, and an interesting departure from typical Roman meals.

          Your general area:
          *Il Pagiaccio (via dei Banchi Vecchi, a few blocks in from the River). Very modern and somewhat expensive, but also one of the few Roman restaurants I have eaten in where "creativity" was a plus and not a flop. This chef is definitely in a league of his own, incorporating art, humor and the Orient with Italian cuisine. Don't skip dessert.
          *Pizzeria da Baffetto, via del Governo Vecchio. Excellent neighborhood pizzeria in a neighborhood that is kind of lacking in good pizza.
          Trattoria della Stampa, via dei Marioniti (near Fontana di Trevi). Good "homestyle" Roman lunch spot with affordable, humbly delicious dishes-think beans, tripe, etc.

          *Le Mani in Pasta, via dei Genovesi. Reasonable trattoria with great homemade pasta.
          *Checchino dal 1887, via di Monte Testaccio. Romans and tourists alike love it, great food and comfortable atmosphere- this place is a great reason for you to finally get to Testaccio!

          Some might disagree with me, but I can't think of any restaurants in the Repubblica/Popolo/Spagna neighborhoods to recommend off the top of my head, so I'll move further out of the center-

          *Il Matriciano, via dei Gracchi. Excellent family-run Roman restaurant in the classic style, nothing fancy or over-the-top, but elegant and quality in a casual way. A good number of "celebrities in the know" come here to eat well undercover. Get the eggplant parmaigiana and the Bucatini alla Matriciana.

          *Il Picchio Rosso, via Italo Piccagli. Elegant, romantic atmosphere with a touch of the exotic (jackets required, not sure about ties). A fun, different kind of place in the woods, for special occasions.

          *La Sofitta, via dei Villini. Really good traditional pizza, no tourists, no hassle.
          *Dai Toscani, via Forli. Elegant restaurant specializing in Tuscan cuisine.
          *Ambasciata d'Abruzzo, via Pietro Tacchini. Large, festive tavern specializing in Abbruzzese cuisine. It's fun- people come here to live it up and drink wine- you couldn't possibly leave hungry with the endless platters of antipasti...

          As for nearby snacks, I am big fan of Il Forno in the Campo de Fiori for pizza bianca (plain or as a panino, available next door across the alley where they sell incredible little cookies and nutella pockets), as well as Le Piramide next door, which is a great little Egyptian take-away spot for when you (possibly) don't feel like Italian. The Rosticceria in the campo has good roasted chicken and potatoes, as well as pizza al taglio (weighed by the slice).
          I really like the pastries at Pasticceria Bernasconi on via dei Giubbonari- don't forget to have a nice assortment of small plates and wines at Roscioli next door some afternoon. Giolitti, San Crispino and Tre Scalini are all within walking distance and each has its strong points for gelati.

          For your neighborhood caffe bar, there is some good coffee to be found on Giubbonari (I am not sure exactly where you are). However, in case you are looking for a great cup of quick espresso from a guy who's been pulling it for half a century, duck into Bar Farnese on via dei Baullari (not Caffe Farnese, which is better for people-watching) for a stand-up treat like the locals do it (and at a price the locals will pay). As far as famous coffee bars go, I do like Bar della Pace (famous intellectual/artist hangout between Navona and the Pantheon) and Sant'Eustachio (which you have probably heard of/been to). But my favorite is Tazza d'Oro, also near the Pantheon, on the via del Corso side. It's really good.

          There are places I feel I am forgetting, but this should fill in a few blanks for now. I can come back and post more if you like- Do you want to know about wine bars? Dessert? Foods of other ethnicities? I can also tell you what I avoid in the area, if you are interested. Let me know!

          1. re: vvvindaloo

            as one of the new batch of student abroads floating around the city, that's a fabulous list to have! do you have any more recommendations for the gianicolo/trastevere area? and especially any places offering spicy food...

            1. re: chocolatstiletto

              Wonderful- good for you. I've spent a lot of time in Roma over the past 8 years (I live in Manhattan now), and there is nowhere else I would rather be! I am happy to help out as much as I can. As for spicy food, I really think Le Piramide is your best bet. Ask for it "piccante" and they'll add more hot sauce. Another option closer to the area you mentioned is Jaipur in Trastevere. I think they make pretty good Indian food (I've had better, but this is good for Rome). There used to be another Indian restaurant across the street (Via S. Francesco a Ripa) that was very good, but I don't recall the name, and am not sure if it is even still there. You will never come across Italian food that is spicy on the level of some Asian cuisines, because their philosophy of food preparation is different (moderation and simplicity). Judging from my experience, you can forget far eastern food in Rome- such as Thai and Chinese- whenever I have tried it, it was pretty bad. If you like dried peperoncino, I think many restaurants would oblige if you asked them for some red pepper flakes. Another idea is to ask around if there are any Calabrian restaurants in the area where they serve marinated hot peppers- I think Calabria isthe "spiciest" Italian regional food you can find, on the whole. I wish I had more reason to spend time in the Gianicolo, but I can't say that I am familiar with the dining scene there. Let me know if there's anything else. Have fun!

              1. re: vvvindaloo

                ooh, lovely- I'd heard about Le Piramide but was a little chary of trying it out given past experiences with attempting spice....I did live here before my junior year of high school and remember a trip to Sicily being a treasure of unusual flavors and some kick to it.

                If you're still around, I would love some recs for visiting parents- nothing terribly fancy- although not just pizza and pasta- and they'd get a kick out of being the only english speakers. Any suggestions? They've gotten ahold of tazza d'oro and san'eustachio for espressos to try, and probably will make a stop at every gelato place anyway, but I haven't been able to try out many restaurants yet given the whole student budget thing!

                1. re: chocolatstiletto

                  Of my list above, I would definitely take parents to Il Matriciano. It's always full of Romans (and visiting Italians, as word gets around), and everything on the menu is very good. My favorite is the matriciana, but really, its all good. For dessert, they have an excellent millefoglie cake. If your parents like to spend $$$ on dining out, have them take you to al Bric (also on my list, above) and enjoy the cacio e pepe (another classic Roman dish) and a secondo with their terrific roasted potatoes and sauteed vegetable contorni and be sure to get some wine recommendations (wine is their specialty). Neither of these are fancy, but both are full-scale ristoranti, not trattorie or osterie. If your family is into seafood, then they may get a kick out of Porto di Ripetta- a family-owned and run sub-level restaurant on via di Ripetta, near Piazza del Popolo. It's fairly undercover, and easy to miss (actually, I am not sure if there is even a sign), so look up the exact address before heading out.
                  Sicily and Calabria are really the only regions of Italy where they use "heat" to flavor their food on a regular basis, and even then, its rarely on the level that would be considered "hot" in Asia or Central America, for example. There are a couple of decent Sicilian restaurants in Rome, if you are interested.

                  1. re: vvvindaloo

                    well, the parents are here and due to their slightly incompetent daughter (oops) doesn't look like we'll make it to il matriciano for a meal- we did try but alas, it appears romans have excellent taste and all the tables were full.
                    Just wanted to report that we ate at renato e luisa instead and while the food was amazing (especially the goat cheese praline appetizer and the accompanying vegetable melange for the melanzane involtini), the service was.....well. We may have been exceedingly obvious tourists, and we may not have been willing to splash out on the 200 euro bottle of wine, but we aren't total rubes. We were still effectively ignored, given the wrong bottle of white wine, told an incorrect list of contorni and several other minor but pretty annoying things. I loved the coziness of the space, and what was delivered to our table was readily and happily consumed with appropriate delight, but honestly, it wasn't worth the condescension. Any thoughts on it? I'd love to think it was just a bad night, but perhaps we abrogated some crucial Italian dining rule?

                    Oh well. We did have a fun and intriguing dinner (and a fabulous bottle of wine) the other night up in monteverde vecchio at Lumie di Sicilia, which was a great introduction for the parents to Sicilian food without all the tedious pretension business.

                    To vvvindaloo- thank you for the tips; I definitely will head out to Le Piramide whenever the next overdose of mozzarella hits. And if you have any more Rome pointers, please let me know!

                    1. re: chocolatstiletto

                      Roman Restaurant Rudeness is an all-too frequent occurence ( I'm allowed to say that- my middle name is Romana!), and I'm sorry to hear about that experience. I have never eaten at Renato e Luisa (though I have heard of it), so I cannot say for sure what happened. However, what you describe sounds very similar to the type of dismissive treatment that many foreigners in tourist-clogged Rome get (me included, at times- I think it must be because I am fair and eat out in the toursty center quite often) . It's such a shame, too, because Italians really can be lovely people... FYI, very few Romans would spend Euro 200 on a bottle of wine in a restaurant, do don't even think twice about that one! I adore Lumie di Sicilia- its my favorite Sicilan in Rome (real Sicilian food is never ever pretentious, by the way)... glad to hear people are still enjoying it. Sounds like you made good choices, overall. I am always lurking around the boards, feel free to ask me anything...

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        Oh, I know- we may LOOK like typical Americans, but it was still a table composed of two worldly expense account jaded lawyers, and a twenty year old already versed in trying out chowhound. I mean probably we could have handled the 200 euro bottle of wine but in Italy, why bother? The lesser known vintages seem to be entertaining the parents well enough. It's similar to the international phenomenon of Ignore the College Kid; They Probably Live Off Takeout Wings Anyway. Sad.

                        Luckily we've had some lovely hosts, although I think honestly I like the food and attention out in the small towns better- I mean, if you're in Viterbo (used to live there) as a tourist, you're more a curiosity, and what they cook for the local clientèle is usually great.

                        If anyone wants to try out Lumie, I really do recommend it- it may seem like a trek, but the 44, 870 and 75 buses all do a fast trip up the Gianicolo; the 870 from the Vatican especially offers a really stunning view of the panorama of Rome splashed out below.

                        And vvvindaloo, if you're still around- for a last roman gelato, where would you head?

                        1. re: chocolatstiletto

                          Well, if you are looking to bypass the popular favorites (Giolitti and San Crispino- both great, IMO), a couple of other places do come to mind. The first is Alberto Pica, on via Seggiola, near Arenula. A top-quality, inventive bar/gelateria where you'll find really fantastic flavors that are natural and anything but commercial. If you enjoy tartufo, and chocolate gelato in general, I think Tre Scalini in Piazza Navona has the best.

                      2. re: chocolatstiletto

                        I think it was a bad night at Renato e Luisa. We were in Rome for a week at the beginning of April, and ate at Renato e Luisa twice for dinner. The food was delicious. We had an extremely nice waitress, who spent lots of time with us explaining our choices. We only spoke a few words of Italian, and she spoke a little bit of English, but we managed to communicate. The only wine ordered was 1 glass (or was it a quarter litre) of the house wine, since my husband is a non-drinker, and we were accompanied by my 13-year old son. The atmosphere was very warm and friendly. In fact, at some point, the chef burst into song, and everyone started laughing. Everyone there was Italian (except for a couple of Norwegians). We had such a good time that we went back there for our last dinner in Rome. I highly recommend the place.

        2. we've been to Rome many times and have been in the past year. Here are our favorites.

          Da Tullio. Best meal we've had. pasta with mushrooms amazing
          Matricianella. Best Gnocci
          Vecchia Roma. Sit outside.
          Al Moro. spaghetti with baby clams excellent

          1. Just got back from a couple of days in Rome, and I had an excellent meal at Renato e Luisa (via Dei Barbieri 25, tel 066 869 660, I think only open for dinner). The service wasn't bad, just a little cold, but they are that way even with Italians, and the food is worth it. Another suggestion is Hostaria Romanesca, in the Campo dei Fiori, tel: 066864024. They have good typical Roman food, and it's not too expensive. Another place I like for typical Roman dishes, where I didn't go on this trip but where I've been many times before, is the Hostaria Piccola Roma (Via Uffici del Vicario, 36 - Tel 06.6798606).