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May 26, 2008 04:41 PM

4 Nights in Rome

The more I read, the more indecisive I become.!! DH & I will be in Rome for 4 nights staying just north of the Spanish Steps (although location is not that important). We want to eat dinners that are truly delicious (we know, all food in Rome is) and we do not want pretentious places. Just down to earth good food served by accommoding servers. Where to go?? All suggesstions much appreciated.

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  1. Such places have been discussed here recently and at length, so you really should check the board and make a short-list, then come back for fine tuning. The sort of place you want would include Armando, Fiammetta, Nerone, La Piazzetta, Paris, Monti, Colline Emiliane, and others.

    Two general points: First, Roman servers can be excellent but are not always what you might call accommodating. Expect a degree of formality anywhere you see a waiter in a white shirt and cummerbund, no matter how modest the place. Second, allow me to express my objection to the pejorative word "pretentious" when applied (if, indeed, that is how you used it) to restaurants that are upmarket, elegant, fancy, formal, or simply expensive but without pretense.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      I remember the first time we visited Rome we were impressed at how professional and civilized the waiters were in most trattorias (it went a little downhill in tourist places like Othello alla Concordia nr Spanish Steps, but there the tourists were acting ridiculous). These waiters wore formal dress and behaved correctly - they were not down home warm and friendly and they mostly didnt speak english but they made us feel welcome .. Thats still a traditional Roman welcome though I would say manners and dress of the waitstaffs have loosened up a bit in the midrange places we like. To me pretentious is unneccessary fussing, domes over food and service style that brings attention to the service and the servers. You are not going to see much of that unless you go upscale to, like michelin 3-fork type places, if that.

      1. re: jen kalb

        My SO and I have a special place in our hearts for Otello. We've gone there every time we've been in Rome since the late 1960s. Some of the same waiters are still there, and they remember our faces each time and greet us affectionately. They've gone gray and so have we. The food may not be the best in Rome, but it's always like coming home.

        1. re: mnosyne

          That is exactly the right relationship with a trattoria. Somebody walking in off the street is not likely to enjoy it the same way. Otello is very cute and I used to like it, but my last meal was awful, and I've given it up. The only way I'd go back would be with a regular.

          1. re: mbfant

            We also used to go to La Capriciosa quite a bit, but since they became Ara Pacis, it's not so much fun. When we were in town for a month or so, it was a good place to go for inexpensive fish, for example.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I just came back from a three week trip to Italy and Spain. We found this cute pizza place called Ricominciodatre. Its a locals place - we were the only tourists. A bit off the tourist map (about 20 min walk from the colloseum) on Via Amiterno (across from Via Magna Grecia) phone 067081150. this place was cheap, clean and the BEST place we ate at in Rome. The rigotoni carbonara was so delicious. We also had this pizza with mushrooms and parmasean (i forgot what it was called). We had: a salad, pizza, pasta, 1/2 lt of proseco, limoncello, and panna cotta all for 34 euros.

        1. pier luigi near the campo de' fiori is one of my "goto" dinner places. the fish is very good. ditirambo, just off the campo, can be loud and cramped but the food, especially the cacio e pepe, is quite good. excellent grappa selection. make friends with the staff and chances are you'll be drinking "on the house." reservations are a good idea at both places.

          1 Reply
          1. re: steve h.

            Thanks so much for the wonderful suggestions - we are getting hungry!! I am now busy checking out their websites. If anyone has any more suggestions, please keep them coming - it is much appreciated.

          2. I always rent the same apartment while in Rome on Via Vittoria (Spanish Steps area). Most of the below are in that area. Rome is a great walking town, even better for walking off all that good food.

            > > > > Ristorante 34- Via Mario de Fiore, 34
            > > > > P.zza di Spagna
            > > > > great sweetbreads with artichokes, and seafood lasagna
            > > > >
            > > > > Trattoria Otello alla Concordia- Via della Croce, 81 P.zza di
            > > > > Spagna eggplant parmesan and veal saltimbocca; antipasti plate
            > > > > with artichokes is a great starter; great desserts too
            > > > >
            > > > > Osteria Margutta- Via Margutta, 82
            > > > > P.zza di Spagna
            > > > > very cozy with fireplace; great seafood
            > > > >
            > > > > l'Enotec Antica- Via della Croce, 76
            > > > > P.zza di Spagna
            > > > > happy, little wine bar with great cheese, roasted veggies and
            > > > > sausages
            > > > >
            > > > > Spinosi Alberto- Via del Mascherino, 60-62-64; Antica Trattoria
            > > > > Dal 1923 just outside, to the left of the Vatican Tipica cucina
            > > > > romana; best caprese and meat lasagna; great lunch place
            > > > >
            > > > > Le Naumache- Via Celimontana, 7
            > > > > Colosseum
            > > > > known for their fettuccini and tiramisu
            > > > >
            > > > > "Mystery" restaurant- either Rist. alle Rampa or Caffe Leonardo
            > > > > facing the Spanish Steps, on the same side of the street of the
            > > > > steps, go to the right and on your left is a row of restaurants
            > > > > next to Valentino and AMEX. there is one with outdoor dining and
            > > > > the best zucchini blossoms and fabulous buffet of all things
            > > > > Italian.
            > > > >
            > > > > Hotel Forum- Via Tor de'Conti, 25-30
            > > > > Roof garden restaurant with panoramic view of the Forum
            > > > >
            > > > > Rosati- Via del Corso and Via di Ripetta
            > > > > P.zza del Popolo
            > > > > Great Sunday brunch with terrific view of the piazza.
            > > > >
            > > > > Ciccia Bomba Pizza & Co.
            > > > > via del Governo Vecchio, 76
            > > > > great pizza place near the Piazza Navona; highly recommended by
            > > > > locals
            > > > >
            > > > > Ristorante La Carbonara
            > > > > Piazza Campo de' Fiori, 23
            > > > > overlooking the Piazza; great antipasti bar and pasta carbonara
            > > > > go to the Campo de' Fiori market first for fruit, veggies,
            > > > > flower, and spice market; very colorful; then have a long lunch
            > > > > at Carbonara
            > > > >
            > > > > Il Gabriello
            > > > > Via Vittoria, 51; near the Spanish Steps area
            > > > > fresh, homemade pastas; don't miss the grilled radicchio with
            > > > > gorgonzola
            > > > >
            > > > > Giolotti; Piazza Collona
            > > > > ice cream, gelati
            > > > >
            > > > > Tre Scalini; Piazza Navona
            > > > > sit outside and have the Tartuffo; a decadent chocolate gelati,
            > > > > truffle, bomb thing

            13 Replies
            1. re: edible complex

              Edible Complex,

              Many thanks for the incredible list of suggesstions. One question - could you tell me the price range at the Hotel Forum. I looked at the website and it appears to be a great place to spend a summer evening. Thanks.

              1. re: jmlh

                I've always done lunch on the roof overlooking the Forum. App, Entree, Dessert, Bottle of Wine would set us back about $50pp. Not sure what their dinners prices would be; have you tried to email them?
                Most lunches/dinners on my list would average $50pp, but we tend to enjoy lots of wine.

                The place near the Vatican for lunch is a must! I go back every time just for the "show". The owners are a bit "grouchy, playful" is all in good fun, and everybody eating there, get's it. Next time, I'm ordering those jerusalem artichokes...damn they looked good. If you are facing the Vatican, go outside to your right passed the souvenir stores; but if you are leaving the Vatican and facing the River, it is to the left. It is a small side street, so either ask or find it on the map. I stumbled on this place many years ago and cannot visit Rome w/o a meal there.

                I'm hoping to get back in December...I can t-taste it.

                1. re: edible complex

                  The food at the hotel Forum is really not very good (hotelish), though I haven't been in a couple of years. I'd suggest catching the view with an aperitivo at twilight, though I actually don't know if the bar has the same panoramic possibilities as the restaurant, then moving on for dinner.

                  Jerusalem artichokes, tubers unrelated to actual artichokes, turn up in Roman markets but almost never on the menu. You may mean Jewish-style artichokes, carciofi alla giudia, which are a Roman specialty.

                  1. re: mbfant

                    We are geting closer to making some selections. How does the following sound? Ristorante 34, Osteria Margutta, Ciccia Bomba Pizza & Co. (lunch), Il Gabriello, Armando Al Pantheon or Colline Emiliane? Only 3 weeks to go - very exciting!!

                    1. re: jmlh

                      I don't think it's a very interesting list. What is your goal? To stay in the center or to have authentic and good food? Al 34 is the sort of place you go to when it fills a need -- it's open on Sunday, it's big, it opens early -- but it's not the sort of place you plan to go to way ahead of time because you're looking for great food. I've never been to Osteria Margutta or Ciccia, but Ciccia used to be in the Gambero Rosso and a friend who lives in Paris went there some years ago and liked it. Il Gabriello sounded good from its web site when I looked a few months ago (I have now forgotten everything) but I've never heard of it except for queries on this board. Armando and Colline are good, and I would not make it either/or. Skip 34 and go to both Armando and Colline. But know that they are current Internet favorites and unless you reserve after 9 pm you will probably be eating with only other tourists. Franco and I were shocked when we took a walk a couple of weeks ago around the Pantheon area at dinnertime. It's simply wall-to-wall tourists at sidewalk tables, like one big continuous restaurant and has lost its old character. We ate at a newish place called Grano, which is in the Gambero Rosso, but we thought it was pretty awful. It is next to L'Angoletto, which is where we should have gone and which I will try at the first opportunity.

                      1. re: mbfant

                        Id say to go to Armando for lunch, not dinner. The neighbornood restaurants are probably less impacted by tourists at lunchtime, with more office workers, government officials diluting it.

                        most pizza places are open at night, not noon, and thats when Id recommend you have your pizza. Isnt there a "Pizza Re" up on via Ripetta north of Piazza Spagna where you are staying?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Pizza Re is pretty tasty and is across from the English-language bookshop on via Ripetta, or at least was as of 2005. You could also try ai Marmi, on Viale Trastevere across from San Crisogono. White marble-topped tables crammed together, lots of large parties drinking red wine from tumblers, slightly crabby & busy waiters, and absolutely fantastic pizza. No need to go beyond the napolitana, with some fritti misti to start (the baccala is very good). And in the day of the plummeting dollar, it's still pretty darn cheap.

                    2. re: mbfant

                      when asked what the artichokes were called, this is what I was told...perhaps it was lost in translation. whatever they are, they're good.

                      1. re: edible complex

                        If they were fried whole artichokes, they were Jewish-style artichokes, carciofi alla giudia. The Jerusalem artichoke is something else entirely, a tuber, and is called topinambur in Italian. Your informant was overenthusiastic with the translation and fell into a trap.

                        1. re: mbfant

                          the owner of the restaurant said what they were...again language worries.
                          they were neither tubers nor fried artichokes.

                            1. re: mbfant

                              We are making progress (I think!). We are booked @ Armando Al Pantheon and will be booking Colline Emiliane (should we do it here or wait until Rome?). A question - would you choose Pizza Re or Fiammetta? Both sound very good. Does anyone have any comments on Vladimiro Marcello? Any other suggestions welcomed - we are looking forward to wineing & dining very well in Rome. We really appreciate all your comments to date.

                              1. re: jmlh

                                Glad you are making progress.
                                I am wondering if you have tried using the search engine yet. - I put Vladimiro Marcello into the main search engine for the site (that picks up both the Italy and old International boards) and came up with a lot.
                                Im very boring but do remember that lunch tends to be the main meal (except for tourists)- its too hot to tour at midday in summer, the town pretty much shuts down for several hours, so it makes sense to do as the romans do. there is nothing so pleasant as sitting in the shade drinking frascati to take off the edge of the heat and eating lovely summer specialties made with peppers and tomatoes, grilled chicken or fish and some fruits of the season for a couple hrs.