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Fairly priced romantic dining in Rome?

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To celebrate our move to New York in a months time, we got ourselves a trip to Rome this thursday to saturday (two nights) as a treat! Have had considerable problems to find fairly priced intimate restaurants in Rome, as we're trying hard to save all the money we can for our big move (we're moving from London). However we'd love to find some small interesting places and I have come up with a short-list. Please - if anybody have any suggestions or objections, let me know!

Alfredo & Ada
Piccolo Abruzzo
Trattoria Da Luigi
Cantina Cantarini

Thanks, b.

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  1. Let's clarify some terminology. A meal can be fairly priced but still out of your budget. I may not want to share the expense of a restaurateur's Riedel crystal, but I think he's justified building the breakage into his prices. From your list, it seems you mean cheap, which is fine. And do you mean intimate, as in you are sitting in your neighbor's pocket, or actually romantic, as in it has a certain je ne sais quoi and a minimum of decor?

    With the exception of Luigi, which may or may not be the one I'm thinking of, I think you'll have good basic trattoria meals at the places you've chosen. They are intimate in the sense of small and close together, not romantic, except in the sense of romance is in the eye of the romantic. If you mean Luigi on Piazza Sforza Cesarini, and you have to be more specific with a name like that, it may be good--certainly used to be but I haven't been in years--but it's quite large and bustling. Is Piccolo Abruzzo the one on Piazza Santi Apostoli? It seems not to have changed in at least the 30 years I've been walking past it. Haven't been in at least 25, but it was fine. Very, very classic. I haven't been to Alfredo e Ada at all, but have heard it was good. I wasn't nuts about Cantina Cantarini the last couple of times I went, but it has its charm.

    I would incline toward La Piazzetta or Trattoria Monti, neither exactly romantic but both fairly priced, in the sense of justly, and not extravagant and a couple of cuts above your list.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      Ah... now I feel a little silly about my list - but I've never been to Rome before and I really want to find some great places. Went to Venice a few years ago without doing any research - big mistake - I don't want that to happen again! Thanks for confirming that the places I picked are "small and have close together tables", we will have to add a bit of romance ourselves if the atmosphere lacks it, although compared to London I'm sure that won't be a problem! Will definitely check out your recommendations!

      Luigi is on Piazza Sforza Cesarini
      Piccolo Abruzzo is on via Sicilia

      Thanks, b.

      1. re: mbfant

        Mbfant
        "A meal can be fairly priced but still out of your budget."
        This is perfect!.........(unfortunately)

        1. re: masoliveira

          Ok ... you are going to be in Rome for just two nights and want a romantic meal (and a great meal, too, I am presuming, given how far NY is and how far it will be to travel to Rome the next time) I am going to second the suggestion that you go to La Piazzetta and have a WONDERFUL MEAL !! That was our experience there ... and the atmosphere was quaint and not hassled, and the food a terrific value, no matter your budget!! Have a great time!! Ciao!!

          1. re: PeggyD

            Thanks Peggy & Maureen!

            After failing to secure a table at Trattoria Monti (which in my opinion looks very romantic), we went to La Piazzetta and had a wonderful meal! I especially loved the lamb chops roman style (to eat with your hands) and the amazing Chianti we were recommended. The atmosphere was comfortably relaxed considering the location so close to the Colosseum. The Limoncello/Grappa was on the house. It was a terrific experience and more than value for money! Top notch!

            Our first night was a totally different experience but definitely something we'll also remember. We went to Alfredo & Ada and had a most traditional italian meal, as if we were invited to Ada's own private kitchen. The pasta was simple but perfectly cooked, as was the veal (or beef roulade) that followed. There is no menu at Alfredo & Ada, but we could choose between veal or beef for our secondi. Ada herself trotted around the tables chatting to everybody as if she were a young girl despite her old age (my best guess is that she's in her eighties) and we were both greeted and seen to the door by her when we left!

            Another memorable meal was lunch at Cantina Cantarini. We had a traditional Spaghetti Vongole - a conservative choice perhaps, but as we discovered, it was flawless... Homemade dark chocolate ice-cream to finish it off with was too a winner!

            My only regret is that I cannot remember the name of the tiny aperitivo bar we went to near Ada & Alfredo on our first night in Rome. It had only about ten seats inside and the most quirky decor - red velvet curtains and a marionette horse dressed in tiny christmas lights hanging over the bar. The old man who served the drinks and the appetizers was a real charmer, and the atmosphere was close to cinematic!

            We also had some late night drinks at a Bar near our hotel, which had a young vibe - but nice enough to recommend; Ti Voglio on Via Simone de Saint Bon, 37. Colorful cocktails, good wines and drafts.

            NYC awaits!

            Thanks again & warm regards, b.

            1. re: bistrotheque

              I am so glad you had a great time in Rome ... it is a classic, timeless, magical place and the sights, sounds, people (AND FOOD) are really special. I am not a gourmet, but when I travel, I like to know that I have seen and tasted the best and by following the lead of Maureen Fant and others on this board, I have done this all over Rome over several weeks this year. Just an FYI ... do start checking out this board for the great finds in the New York City area ... there is a devoted following of experts on this board for great and interesting places all over NY, and I have enjoyed trying some of them on business trips this year as well. So glad you had a great time in Rome!