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Please critique my list for Rome

We'll be traveling all over Italy, so for our 3 days in Rome we want to focus mainly on typical Roman food but won't be slavishly devoted to it. Cost is no object, we're also not afraid of risky neighborhoods, but we easily get bored of what I'll call high end international with the same foie gras and lobster menus around the globe. We definitely want something that has a sense of being in Rome.

Dinner:
Al Bric, Sunday night, already have a reservation
Porto di Ripetta - fish - redundant if we're going to Sicily?
Checchino dal 1887 - excellent traditional Roman?
Trattoria Monti - more modern? Still good? Overrun by tourists?
Piperno? heard conflicting info about the menu aside from amazing artichokes...worth a dinner, or just go for lunch of artichokes and one or two other things?

Lunch:
Il Matriciano after Vatican
Piperno?
Paris, if Piperno doesn't work out
Sora Margherita - backup option
Cul de Sac - wine bar, snack or full meal

Gellati:
Tre Scalini, Alberto Pica, Gilitti, San Crispino

Espresso:
Bar Farnese
S Eustachio
---I need more espresso recommendations...I'm coming from a place with good espresso, so mainly I just need a quick fix once in a while and I'm not looking for a song and dance, just good beans and a well-pulled shot.

Special thanks to ejcSanFran for compiling a list that seemed to capture many of the Chowhound Rome favorits, quoted below:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/549238
"Thu, 10-09 - Checchino
Fri, 10-10 - Antico Arco
Sat, 10-11 - Paris (followed by late night clubbing
)Sun, 10-12 - Uno e Bino
Mon, 10-13 - Trattoria Monti
Tue, 10-14 - L’altro Mastai (is this a good romantic splurge choice?)
Wed, 10-15 - Da Felice
Thu, 10-16 - Lunch: Crudo or GiNa
Dinner: pizza (where?)
Fri, 10-17 - Agata e Romeo
Sat, 10-18 - La Piazzetta

Other places I’ve heard about:

Al Ceppo
Baby
Da Francesco – for pizza
Enoteca Ferrara
Est! Est! Est!
Giuda Ballerino
Il Fico
L’Osteria
Osteria del Rione – Inexpensive prix-fixe; any good?
Palatium
Piperno
Ristorante da Ottavio
Vladimiro Ristorante"

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  1. The list from ejcSanFran listed Antico Arco. We were there a year ago October. Best meal in the 5 days we were in town. Great food, wine list, very reasonable for the quality and the staff could not have been nicer. Great space with wine bar when you walk in and 3 (?) more floors. We are going back in May and will there for sure. You won't be disappointed.

    http://www.anticoarco.it/

    1. SteveG -- You have really researched this site ... I went to Rome twice last year on business/vacation and am going again in 2009. Let me give you some thoughts on some of the choices you note:

      Trattoria Monti - more modern? Yes!!! Still good? YES!!! Overrun by tourists? Not totally overrun ... but then again, for great food, who cares if the people sitting nearby are tourists or not.

      Lunch:
      Il Matriciano after Vatican ---- Perfect choice in my view, or else on Sunday night -- the food was wonderful, but it is a bit of a walk from the Vatican
      Paris -- I would choose Paris over Piperno, but that is me. The food is good, and I hear Piperno is also good, but I haven't been there.
      Sora Margherita - backup option
      Cul de Sac - wine bar, snack or full meal -- we went there late at night for a dinner and the food was kinda average, but the wine selection, you have to see

      Gellati:
      Tre Scalini, Alberto Pica, Gilitti, San Crispino -- you list several good spots, but San Crispino was our favorite

      Espresso:
      Bar Farnese
      S Eustachio
      ---I need more espresso recommendations...I'm coming from a place with good espresso, so mainly I just need a quick fix once in a while and I'm not looking for a song and dance, just good beans and a well-pulled shot. -- We loved Tazo D'Oro (spelling??) and the best ... look up that one (we also brought the beans home!) and we liked a place called Cafe Pace -- great coffee, not as fancy.

      Regarding your other ideas per another poster, let me mention a couple I would NOT MISS -- Antico Arco (super food -- and it is located on the Gianicolo Hill ... go check out the keyhole at the Knights of Malta door after dinner ... the view is amazing!!) We also loved La Piazzetta and will be going back there ... we did not try Agata e Romeo, but we will on our next trip, because it is reputed to be GREAT and is right down the street from our favorite hotel -- Mecenate Palace (near Santa Maria Maggiorre). For pizza, we went to BOTH Antico Forno and La Fiammetta (not far from Piazza Navona). You are well on your way to a WONDERFUL trip!!

      Ciao ... PeggyD

      1 Reply
      1. re: PeggyD

        Thanks a bunch to both of you...looks like Antica Arco, Trattoria Monti, and Paris over Piperno should fill in our blanks nicely.

        For pizza, Antico Forno, Il Fornaio, and Baffeta (sp?) are on our radar, but our first stop after Rome is Naples so we won't really worry too much if we miss Rome's best pizza.

      2. Dinner:
        Al Bric, Sunday night, already have a reservation
        I have still never been there so hope to hear a report.

        Porto di Ripetta - fish - redundant if we're going to Sicily?
        Never been here either, but don't worry about redundancy.

        Checchino dal 1887 - excellent traditional Roman?
        Yes, VERY traditional. Don't expect "interpretations." It's old-style home cooking with fine wines and cheeses.

        Trattoria Monti - more modern? Still good? Overrun by tourists?
        Yes, has some traditional dishes, some newer. It's very good. They are from the Marche. Tourists as Peggy says.

        Piperno? heard conflicting info about the menu aside from amazing artichokes...worth a dinner, or just go for lunch of artichokes and one or two other things?
        It's very good, classic, fairly formal. Paris more relaxed. I'd plan on a full meal at one or the other. Don't know what conflicts you're talking about.

        Lunch:
        Il Matriciano after Vatican
        Was underwhelmed the couple of times I went, now many years ago.

        Piperno?
        Paris, if Piperno doesn't work out
        I like it very much.

        Sora Margherita - backup option
        I hate it, but I am a minority.

        Cul de Sac - wine bar, snack or full meal
        very good but always crowded and uncomfortable in my experience and no reservations, I believe.

        Gellati:
        spelled gelati
        Tre Scalini, Alberto Pica, Gilitti, San Crispino
        spelled (and pronounced) Giolitti. I'd skip Tre Scalini. The others are great.

        Espresso:
        Bar Farnese
        S Eustachio
        ---I need more espresso recommendations...I'm coming from a place with good espresso, so mainly I just need a quick fix once in a while and I'm not looking for a song and dance, just good beans and a well-pulled shot.
        For a quick fix once in a while, you go to the nearest bar where you are when you need the fix. Only tourists and guidebook writers will carry a list. However, I like the coffee at Cafffè Camerino (three f's) at the beginning of Via Arenula (Largo Argentina).

        Special thanks to ejcSanFran for compiling a list that seemed to capture many of the Chowhound Rome favorits, quoted below:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/549238
        "Thu, 10-09 - Checchino
        Fri, 10-10 - Antico Arco
        yes, like it very much but find it's better to go early (8 pm) and avoid weekends, because they sort of lose it with crowds.
        Sat, 10-11 - Paris (followed by late night clubbing
        love Paris, dunno about the clubbing
        )Sun, 10-12 - Uno e Bino
        yes, like it very much. Also Vinarium in same nabe.
        Mon, 10-13 - Trattoria Monti
        Tue, 10-14 - L’altro Mastai (is this a good romantic splurge choice?
        ) yes, it's tops
        Wed, 10-15 - Da Felice
        haven't been since the makeover. Worth a try.
        Thu, 10-16 - Lunch: Crudo or GiNa
        never been to either but probably OK
        Dinner: pizza (where?)
        I only eat pizza near my house. But I also used to like Nuovo Mondo in Testaccio. Also Remo. And l'Obitorio (Marmi) in Trastevere.
        Fri, 10-17 - Agata e Romeo
        love it, also candidate for romantic splurge
        Sat, 10-18 - La Piazzetta
        love it, but just bear in mind it's a trattoria not a major restaurant

        Other places I’ve heard about:

        Al Ceppo
        love it
        Baby
        it's very very good. also very upscale. another ro-splurge candidate
        Da Francesco – for pizza
        never been
        Enoteca Ferrara
        restaurant is awful and expensive
        Est! Est! Est!
        haven't been in years. The atmosphere is great but I'm not sure the pizza is really as good as I used to think.
        Giuda Ballerino
        very good, creative, pretty much of a bargain, great attention to wines
        Il Fico
        nice seafood-based trattoria. very friendly. open Sunday evening. a bargain. Not a destination, however. I think not for this trip.
        L’Osteria
        ???
        Osteria del Rione – Inexpensive prix-fixe; any good?
        ???
        Palatium
        I had terrible saltimbocca there, but everything else I've ever had there, on numerous visits, has been super, made with the best ingredients of the Lazio region. I go there for lunch with a friend every so often because you can have something yummy without spoiling your appetite for dinner. But dinner is also good -- e.g., great matriciana. In the evening, ask for upstairs dining room, which is noisy but has real chairs instead of the stupid stools they use downstairs with the design.
        Piperno
        Ristorante da Ottavio
        ???
        Vladimiro Ristorante"
        The only mention of this I have ever seen is the repeated post on this board.

        5 Replies
        1. re: mbfant

          Thanks for the thorough response and corrections! If you could only go one place for the soup with broccolo romanesco and skate (Brodo di Arzilla?), would it be any of the above places or someplace entirely different? I take it from your website that you like the version at Paris, but the version at Antico Arco looks like an interesting update, "Roman broccoli soup with small ravioli filled of sting ray."

          A place with a name like "Baby" immediately rings my warning bells, but is a name in English not necessarily an awful sign for Rome?

          I think everyone on Chowhound has warned against Ferrara...naturally, our concierge recommended it ;) At least he'll be useful getting reservations at places we specify.

          1. re: SteveG

            I don't see the point of an interesting update of brodo di arzilla, though it does sound good, if you've never had the original. If that is the case. At Paris you have to specify you want the broccoli, which you do.

            An English name has to be taken in context, anywhere. This is fine dining for Italians. The name is because the chef is the son of Don Alfonso and the restaurant is considered an offshoot. I'm not sure whether the baby is the son, the place, or both.

            And speaking of English, "filled of sting ray"? Honestly! I do not understand the psychology of restaurants that refuse to ask somebody competent to translate their menus, but I've stopped wondering. Yes, the Italian is brodo di arzilla, and the translation, as you say, is skate. Filled with.

            1. re: mbfant

              Is Baby good enough that we should go when we swing back through Rome in a few weeks? We were planning to do most of our high-end dining in Bologna, Florence, and possibly Palermo under the theory that like many major capitals, the undiscerning expense accounts and wealthy international tourists make it harder to find excellent food at the top level in Rome, but we're happy to be told otherwise too.

              Since we'll be in Naples, is the original Don Alfonso better than Baby? Chowhound is somewhat lacking in detailed reports of Don Alfonso, aside from a few people who were put off by the price but didn't really mention the food.

              1. re: SteveG

                I dont really think you have to worry about the tourism/expense account issue in Rome - Romans are as fanatical as any other Italians in their food love. Id stay away from any restaurant with an "international" tilt, however.

                Maybe you will get some responses on Don Alphonso - the whole area of Campania is a hotbed of wonderful food - there are more reviews on the site, but you need to use the main search box, which will pick up posts older than a year, including on the old international board to find them.

                1. re: SteveG

                  Baby is good enough, but I wouldn't say that somebody who doesn’t live here should go to a lot of extra trouble to go there. Florence is the place to skip high-end dining. Also why Bologna? We went to Sant'Andrea, in Palermo, when it was new and thought it was awful, but maybe that wasn’t typical. I had lunch at the Charleston about a year ago with a local notable and thought it was good. Rome sort of has two top levels, one where it's important to eat and one where it's important to spend money (most of these are off my radar). At our Sunday lunch at Baby we saw a well-known jet-set-type ex-Socialist minister, suggesting it belonged to the second group, but the food was really good and the service superb.
                  I actually liked the food at Baby better than at Don Alfonso, but it's hardly fair to make a judgment on the basis of such limited exposure. Don is very good, but a bit self-conscious. The elegance seemed more natural at Baby. The food is great ata Don Alfonso, mainly interpretations of traditional but obscure dishes, and they grow practically everything themselves. Our fave on the Amalfi peninsula is Taverna del Capitano, but unfortunately we haven't been in quite a few years.

          2. I think you have a lot of great replies - for me, if you are going to Sicily and, particularly, Naples on this trip, seafood would not be a priority in Rome. You know pizza is mostly not available at lunchtime in Rome, right? The "pizza bianco", more a focaccia, at Antico Forno is an exception, but thats a takeout snack, not a sit down place.

            I think you are doing the right thing going for the Roman specialties

            1. We are traveling in Italy right now so hopefully this will help-

              Rome-

              Renato y Luisa- AMAZING- best food best service- very rustic food, hearty and great wine/bread.
              Dal Cavalier Gino- Very good also, very much a locals place, make sure you know some Italian or you might meet with unfriendly service (my husband spoke English and we both could have sworn the waiter was seriously PO'd!)

              Sicily- not sure where you are going but we have been following
              Palermo-
              Sant' Andrea- A MUSt- it was insanely good and wished we had eaten there every night- hearty, food for the soul, we had a beautiful Sicilian red with angler fish tortillini plus the most amazing seas bass rolled with creamed cauliflower. I'm a big bread person also, for some reason I've noticed that if the bread basket is good and fresh the food ends up being amazing, so hence this had some of the most amazing traditional rolls from Sicily with orange rinds.

              Osteria dei Vespri - Was not a fan at all- way too pretentious , lots of foam and strange bread- but I am a big fan of local hearty rustic cuisine.

              We also have visited the following cities so let me know if you need more recs (you can email me at annette.gallo@gmail.com)
              Florence
              Venice
              Tropea
              Vibo Marina (AMAZING food)
              La Sila (AMAZING food)
              Milan

              1 Reply
              1. re: annettegallo

                Thanks a ton, especially for the Palermo comments...both places were on my radar but I hadn't tried to make any decisions yet.

                We'll also be in Florence, so if you have any reporting to do on the rest of your trip I'm sure we'd all appreciate reading it ;-)