Rome restaurant recs- Sunday evening
I will be in Rome in early June and am looking for a restaurant for dinner on a sunday evening. I will be dining with my boyfriend and his parents...need a central location, price isn't a big issue but nothing too formal or too rustic. The other factor is time- I was interested in Al Presidente but they don't open until 8pm and unfortunately that's too late for the 'rents. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated !
There have been many discussions of Sunday evening in Rome, so you should search this board and make a short list, then perhaps ask for help making a choice. I have a list at http://www.maureenbfant.com/events.htm but I believe I posted my list here a while ago. It is not exhaustive.
As for the 8 pm business, that is the earliest any self-respecting Italian would go to a restaurant. Pizzerias open a bit earlier, and they are popular for Sunday evening, but unless you want to go to a place that does a big tourist business early in the evening, and eat with other tourists, you should politely remind the parents of the old saying about how you're supposed to behave when in Rome. Take them for an aperitivo someplace beautiful to pass the time.
Seriously, so few Italians eat out on Sunday evening (because they have had a big family lunch) that already the demographics are heavily weighted for tourists. Add to that an early hour, and you will not be showing the parents what a cosmopolitan traveler you are. Alternatively, take them for Sunday lunch -- much jollier and more authentic.
And don't get hung up on central location either (exc Al Presidente). Take a taxi to Al Ceppo, in Parioli, one of the few nice and sophisticated restaurants open on Sunday, or a subway to Giuda Ballerino, for example. The distances in Rome are not huge.
If you insist on Centro Storico, Sunday evening, and early ("early" would be something like 7.30) La Campana might be an idea. The clientele is practically all tourist on Sunday evening, and I think they open on the early side. It's venerable (classic, traditional menu) and most tourists really like it, but many of us who loved it years ago consider it a shadow of its former self, or else we've outgrown it. Nevertheless, many visitors are very enthusiastic. Giggetto al Portico, in the Ghetto, could be another idea. OK, I just remembered another I think will do it for you: Ristorante Montevecchio. It's near Piazza Navona, very cute, mid-range, interesting menu, and opens at 7.30, including Sunday evening. I will go and add it to my list immediately.
I just returned from Rome in early April with my parents (age 74), who also like to eat their evening meal at 6pm ... people told me the same ... only tourists eat before 745 or 8pm and you are not traveling to Rome to eat "touristy food." They were totally correct ... what I found was that, with the time change, you are never operating on your regular body clock anyway, and if I let everyone have a slow morning -- don't leave the hotel before 930 or 10am, you won't mind eating later. The best food in Rome is definitely served later -- and some good restaurants will even refuse to seat you at 730 when they are still preparing their specialties ... I get that now. What I did was force everyone to take a late afternoon rest in the hotel (sometimes I went out walking while they napped from 4-5:30) and then stop for a coffee at an outdoor cafe at about 6pm before leaving for our evening. We stopped at several sites -- churches, the Pantheon, stores, Trevi fountain etc. that I knew were "on the way" to my destination dinners and we found ourselves having to rush my Dad out of the Pantheon to make the 8:15 pm reservation nearby! It worked almost every night. Another strategy is to have a big lunch -- very popular in Roman trat. as long as you eat at 1pm or later -- then just get a snack for evening. One night, after a big lunch at Max's Wine Bar in Positano, I went out and gathered salami, cheese and prosecco and we had a "picnic" on our hotel balcony. I "get it" when you worry about traveling with older Americans who find it difficult to adjust to Roman ways, but my attitude was Rome is a treasure of a city, you HAVE to adjust to enjoy all that it has to offer .... when in Rome, indeed!! You will love it!! Ciao!!
Thanks to all for their suggestions...I suppose I should have been more clear in that the reason we need an earlier meal is not because they prefer to eat early, it's that they are staying in a hotel a ways out of town and are leaving early the next morning on a flight back to the states. We've decided that yes, lunch would be better and more authentic. So, naturally my next question is- where should we go for Sunday lunch?!
If you're determined to be central, Al Presidente, Dal Bolognese, and Piperno are dignified and good. Vecchia Roma is very attractive. The little Ristorante Montevecchio would also be acceptable. The whole Navona-Pantheon area nowadays strikes me as one big tourist restaurant. Paris, in Trastevere, is a very good option for Sunday lunch. Al Ceppo in Parioli is also very good for Sunday lunch with parents, but requires a taxi from the center. How are they traveling and where are they staying? You might find that the nicest place to go for Sunday lunch is actually not in the city but near where they're staying. And if they're coming into town by car or car and driver, the time/distance might not be so bad in the evening. Wherever you go, if there is outdoor seating, you will see more foreigners outdoors, more Italians indoors at lunchtime.