Trip report and thanks - Rome
We are spending 10 days near the Pza del Clodio. Love the apartment and the neighborhood. This is our second trip to Rome (the first for 2 weeks 2 years ago). Our culinary experiences in Rome have been somewhat mediocre (but then we live in a serious travel destination and understand that there are a few great restaurants in our town, surrounded by the rest that the tourists eat at.) My apartment here has internet access so I have been furiously querying the boards to find places to eat - so thanks to you all so far.
1. Enoteca Cortina (on Via del Gesu) - had lunch there with a to die for veal stew along with a nice tiramisu. I asked the American couple at the table next to ours (who were eating the two pasta dishes on the menu their recommendations - one was a timbale and the other a pomodoro - they said the pomodoro which was not fabulous. After they left, a table full of Italians came in and ordered the timbale. Good value, good food. (primi around 7 euro, secondi around 10 euro) only open at lunch?
2. Bibi e Romeo (on Via della Giuliana) the main draw is that this is one door away from our apartment. My husband had the filetto with balsamic vinegar reduction and it was the best he's ever had. I had pasta con vongole. (I dunno, but somehow I expected better than dried packaged spaghetti with clams, garlic, and butter, not complex, very greasy). Probably won't return....(around $90 US for one beer, one water, one salad, one primi, and one secondi).
3. Dino e Toni (on Leone IV) - admittedly not fabulous food, but a terribly fun experience. Roughly half of customers are north american, and the other half are Italians. Tony cooks and Dino brings food out. You eat what he tells you to. There was an amazing display of antipasti ranging from very very good (pizza with blue cheese and fried bites with what appeared to be a honey-cream mixture in them) to very, very sad (pizza with a glob of cold cooked spinach on it), entries - a good all'amatriciana, take a pass on the pasta with raddichio, and we got 4 or 5 desserts for the 2 of us - the granita was nice, crem caramel OK. A very good time was had by the audience. This kind of reminded me of destination eating experiences with a dinner theater. (58 E for 2 including 3 large beers and a gazillion plates).
More options to come, appreciate everyone's opinion, we live in Park City, UT, so I'll try and help people out on that board.
You mean Enoteca Corsi.
As for the pasta alle vongole, it may well have been as awful as you describe, but it sounds as though you were expecting something other than the classic Roman dish. Dried spaghetti is correct (though you hope it's a good brand), and the dish, like most Roman classics, is not complex. Butter isn't standard, but many cooks often sneak a little in to make the sauce creamier, and the final product is supposed to be quite oily and is absolutely murder on your shirt. However, simple though the dish is, it is surprising hard to make well. The clams should be large and juicy (i.e., not be overcooked), and the pasta should be well-oiled, but without a puddle of grease in the bottom of your plate (of course, when the dish arrives, you have to mix it up well with your fork). There should be a strong presence of hot pepper and garlic and usually a sprinkling of parsley.
Yes, of course I mean Enoteca Corsi. Too much limoncello.
Yes, it was murder on my shirt - in addition to being a savant on Italian cooking, you have ESP!. I didn't explain the complex very well. There was no red pepper, no spiciness. When I've had this dish at a good restaurant in the states, it has the juicy clams, clam sauce, olive oil, white wine (with or without butter), but then it always has a bit of a kick from the dried red pepper. (In US tho, it is usually made from fresh pasta, I can forgive that and enjoy it with dried). This was very bland, oily, greasy, and garlicky. Just not my thing.
Fresh egg pasta? You're not likely to find that with fish in Italy. Fresh pasta served with seafood is more likely to be made with just flour and water, but those are the poorer, really traditional shapes. I would hazard a guess (unfortunately I don't have ESP, just experience) that you are going to places in the US where they are under the (mistaken) impression that fresh is always better than dried.