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A Long Weekend and Birthday Dinner in Rome

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I'm visiting my sister in Rome for her 21st birthday in late February. I've been reading up on some of the great recs on this board, but I'm looking mostly for a great dinner to take her to for her big day. She's spending the semester there, so we'll rely on her choices for most of the day-to-day places that she's found on her college student budget. We're staying at the Wine Academy by the Spanish Steps. I know that they have a restaurant there, but we'll probably eat there another night and want to go somewhere new for the birthday dinner.

So - what are your favorite great restaurants in Rome? I'm happy to hear about lunch and cocktails, but mostly dinner! Thanks, and I look forward to your input!

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  1. agoldman,
    seems she knows the lay of the land. what are her thoughts?

    7 Replies
    1. re: steve h.

      She just got to Rome a week or so ago and has stayed pretty close to her apartment and campus for food. She asked me to do some research since she and her roommates usually get groceries from the market, and they don't want to spend money eating out often. As far as the birthday dinner goes, some of the names that caught my eye are: Il Convivio, Antico Arco, Tuna, Paris, and Trattoria Monti. I'd love to hear about anyone's experiences at these places, and especially Tuna - my sister doesn't eat red meat so this restaurant sounds like a good option for her.

      1. re: agoldman

        hosteria del pesce and pierluigi, both near the campo de' fiori, have excellent fish. both are upscale restaurants. reservations are a good idea. the neighborhood (off the via giulia), in my opinion, is the best residential neighborhood in rome.

        1. re: agoldman

          Il Convivio had good food and service but it was very stuffy. When the Euro was converted to our currency it became a $500 dinner and really not worth the money.
          There are many quite good and reasonably priced restaurants in your neighborhood for lunches or less formal dining.
          Wish I was there!

          1. re: agoldman

            Of the list above, I'm personally partial to Trattoria Monti. Antico Arco is ridiculously overpriced for what it is (nouveau/creative Italian), and I think Trattoria Monti does a better job. It's a little less "chic" if you will--more petite and more personal--but you'll get much more bang for your buck. They also have many vegetarian options (wonderful vegetable flans). If you want a more "Roman" experience, Paris is lovely--a little pricey, but elegant and consistent. I haven't been to Tuna, unfortunately, so I can't comment on that.

            1. re: agoldman

              Osteria del Pesce had legal problems and may have closed, but I'm not sure. In any case, the atmosphere is (was?) unpleasant, the prices outrageous. Monti is entirely too busy for its own good. Our last dinner there (less than a couple of weeks ago) they had made a mistake with our reservation so we had an uncomfortable table and the noise level made conversation a real job, and the food was blah. Paris is very traditional, classic, quite good, especially if you want the Roman Jewish-style fritti. Il Convivio is where I like to be taken for my own birthday. The food is superb, imaginative but well-grounded, and the wines too—the chef's brothers give excellent advice. Yes, it's expensive, of course. I like Antico Arco a lot, but want a bit more bang for my birthday. For a young person, it could well be perfect. It's definitely not in the category of Convivio. Tuna is brand new (less than a year) and just lovely. All fish, very spruce surroundings but discreetly informal. The cooking gives an impression of being up to date while not betraying tradition. My husband and I go there whenever we get the urge for seafood and don't want to leave town. Of your list, the only place where you might want to get (slightly) dressed up is Convivio.

              1. re: mbfant

                We ate lunch once at Monti and found unworthy of the accolades heaped on it. I ordered grilled pigeon which came out almost dry and the bill was too high for what we got. Thought my experience was not indicative of what Monti can do, but have read 2 recent postings on Chowhound and note that others find Monti overcooks birds and serves blah food. Will not go back this December when staying at Mecenate Palace, which is only a few short blocks from Monti.

                1. re: mbfant

                  it would be a shame if hosteria del pesce closed. i can vouch that it was open last march. the atmosphere, to my tastes, is quite interesting. yes, the place is pricey but you would be hard-pressed to get a better fish dinner. i'll be back to our little rental apartment on the via giulia in march and will update this post.