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Mar 17, 2009 09:15 AM

Quick Rome Report

Hi there -- I've been meaning to post about a recent weekend trip to Rome, since I took many suggestions from Chow and all of you. Here goes:

Trattoria Monti -- We decided to have our fancy-ish meal at this little place, and we thought it was wonderful, although not life-changing. A lot of comments on this board mention the number of tourists who frequent this place, but we didn't notice any other anglophones (not that that would have been a problem). As for the food -- we started with a plate of fried appetizers -- particularly memorable were little olive and meat-filled concoctions. My husband had a pasta (name is escaping me) with an egg yolk in it that floods the plate once you cut it open -- lovely. I was on a guanciale kick the whole time we were in Rome, and enjoyed my rigatoni with guanicale at Monti. My husband had the rabbit special, and we opted for coffee but not desert. The check took a bafflingly long time to arrive, and the service was a bit hurried, but overall we'd love to go back to this place. Our dinner was under 100EUR with a bottle of wine.

Piperno -- We didn't have reservations, but just walked into this place for Saturday lunch. We shared gnocchi all'amatriciana (more guanciale) and fried artichokes -- both were awesome. We had palle del nonno (grandpa's balls) for dessert -- delicious fried chocolate and ricotta puffs. We really enjoyed this meal. Lots of families eating multi-course feasts -- we wished we were hungrier. This place is not cheap, but the quality is high.

Maccheroni -- Dinner here wasn't so memorable, but the waitstaff were really sweet, and the location was central. The gnocchi with pear was good.

Da Augusto -- We had a delicious and cheap lunch here. I liked my rigatoni all'amatriciana (I said I was on a guanciale kick) so much that I almost ordered another plate. My husband had cacio e pepe, and then we shared lentils and sausage. I think our bill was 25EUR with a glass each of house wine. I'd love to go back.

Hope this inspires some happy meals in Rome --

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  1. Thanks frannyfran!

    I had just recently crossed Maccheroni off my list, and Piperno has been on and off my list about 3 or 4 times now! I can't say your review has helped me clarify my decision - but darn those Grandpa's Balls sound good!!

    21 Replies
    1. re: NellyNel

      NellyNel - I got a chuckle from your post regarding the "on and off my list about 3 or 4 times now!!!" That has happened so many times with EVERYTHING on my list - I feel as if I need to scrap the whole thing and start over!

      I just decided this past week to switch out Piperno for Paris. Of course, in a week it could change again. The other two that have been (fairly) constant on my list are Armando al Pantheon and Colline Emiliane.

      I must say - chowwise - this is the most challenging trip I've ever planned.

      1. re: Mushroom

        Mushroom & NellyNel -- My list changed with every post that I read -- and now I'm trying to plan a trip to Florence and the same thing is happening! In any case, you should try fried artichokes, and I think they're supposed to be great at Paris as well as Piperno -- Good luck!

        1. re: Mushroom

          Mushroom - you returned the chuckle with: "I must say - chowwise - this is the most challenging trip I've ever planned." !!!!! LOL!!!

          Absolutely agree!

          I only have 3 nights, so each decision is CRUCIAL!
          (I move on to 2 more areas of Italy - so I am faced with this dilema 3 times!)

          Paris has been on and off my list too, and I think it's beating out Piperno at this moment....but everytime I see frannyfrans line about those balls - " delicious fried chocolate and ricotta puffs" - my mind gets twisted yet again!!

          Franny - I would be happy with artichokes, gnocchi, and zucchini flowers for the whole trip!
          But I'm worried because I don't go until July and I don't think artichokes are in season!!

          Thanks for your help - and good luck planning Florence!!


          1. re: NellyNel

            We have 6 nights in Rome (early June) and I still feel every decision is crucial! We also have 2 nights in Orvieto, but I think I've got that covered.

            We've decided to leave our lunch choices to serendipity (but I'm keeping my list handy just in case).

            In addition to all the dining research, I'm also trying to figure out all the "How to eat in Rome" questions. How soon to make reservations? At outdoor cafes do you just grab an empty table or seek someone out and ask for a table? How do you que up at the different take-away sandwich and/or pizza joints? What's in season in early June? (To name a few of my many questions/concerns).

            I'm sure it will all work out in the end....I feel a thousand times more knowledgeable than I did when I read my first Chowhound Italy post and opened my first guidebook.

            1. re: Mushroom

              We too, aren't planning lunches - but I also want to add that we won't be doing sit down full on lunches either...just grabbing snacks here and there...mostly because I just can't handle all that!!

              Yup, I'm sure it will all work out in the end too, and I have to remind myself not to go crazy over it!

              1. re: NellyNel

                I keep offering the same comment to people in your position - after many visits to Rome, , we have concluded that lunch is the best time to take the major meal of the day. Because a lot of the city closes in mid-day, stores, churches, museums etc mostly take a midday break. You will want a break, too, after a morning of touring. Also, in warm weather Rome is HOT. You may think you can wander the forum at noontime or whatever, but its not really a lot of fun. You will be a lot happier in a shady, peaceful restaurant . Then, a couple of hours later, revived and refreshed (maybe even napped) you can be out and about again. this may mean a lighter meal at dinner (or even pizza, like the Romans) but it still better suits the local culture and what your touring needs will be. In Central Rome you will also be dining with more locals at this time, since its a major business/govt/shopping area, which can be of interest. At least try it once or twice.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Jen - thanks for the input. Our tentative plan is to make the lunch meal our bigger meal (though I'm having a hard time getting my mind wrapped around the concept) and then take advantage of siesta time by resting up - as you say - to be out and about again later.

                  As I previously mentioned, we planned to leave lunch plans open depending on where we are in the city at that point in the day. However, are lunch reservations required? I've been under the impression that they are not.

                  As NellyNel said - I'm trying not to make myself too crazy about this trip - yet at that same time I'd like to have all my ducks in a row prior to our departure.

                  Thanks again!

                  1. re: Mushroom

                    weve never made lunch reservations when visiting Rome. I guess if were truly special or we expected to arrive well after the beginning of the lunch service we might - I think the key is to get there good and early and to have back up plans.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Thanks again, Jen. Good to know I'm on the right track. Through all my planning, your (and Maureen's) posts have been a big help.

                  2. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks Jen and Stuart for the input.

                    I will consider your advice Jen, thanks.

                    Mushroom -
                    Regarding your 2 definites - Armando al Pantheon and Colline Emilianem - are two acclaimed places that have never been considered for my list - they both just don't appeal to me. (even though I have no legit reason why! - since they both get rave reviews)
                    What else is on your list? If you don't mind sharing?


                    1. re: NellyNel


                      I can't explain my reasons for wanting to go to Armando al Pantheon and Colline Emiliane any more than you can explain why they DON'T appeal to you. (Helps a lot doesn't it?)

                      I just know that since I started planning...Armando al Pantheon was one of the first on my list. And something about it continues to speak to me.

                      I would love to share my list - knowing that someone is in the same boat as me is a bit of a relief. Unfortunately, my current list consists of: one notebook at work, one notebook at home, the back of an envelope I used when looking at a guidebook while at a doctor' s office, and a list on the the back of a menu written for me by a local chef who was born in Rome. (Plus a list forwarded by another hound!)

                      By God, I've done more work on this trip than I did for some of my research papers in college!

                      As I mentioned previously, the only other place we are going - besides Rome - is Orvieto. Consequently, I want to sample some food from other regions. I'm just starting to delve in to THAT research now. (Thus the choice for Colline Emiliane.)

                      All that being said, the following are "strong" contenders for my "tentative" list (in no particular order):

                      Paris (I have been back and forth between Paris, Piperno & Checchino dal 1887 about a thousand times)
                      Armando al Pantheon
                      Colline Emiliane
                      La Matricianella
                      Antico Arco
                      Fiammetta (also on & off the list numerous times)
                      Hostaria Nerone
                      Ristorante Montevecchio (The note I have next to this one is "cute & mid-range, first night?")
                      Volpetti (to grab some sandwiches)
                      Porta di Ripetta
                      Al Ceppo
                      Trattoria Monte (a lot of mixed reviews on this one)
                      Ditirambo (ditto)

                      What about you? Would love to see your list!

                      1. re: Mushroom

                        Wow! Thanks Mushroom!

                        Yes, it's good to know someone else out there is obsessing as much as I am!

                        My list (as of today!~)is quite different from your although, Paris, Piperno, Trat Monti, and Al Ceppo have each made appearances on my list at some point!

                        Todays List looks like this:
                        Ciccia bomba
                        Piccolo abruzzo
                        Antica Trattoria Tritone
                        Checco er Carretiere
                        La Piazzetta
                        La Cantina Di Ninco Nanco
                        Osteria la Gensola
                        Taverna degli Amici
                        Taverna dei Mercanti
                        Albino il Sardo
                        Porto di Ripetta

                        And I have to narrow this down to three!

                        it's not easy let me tell ya!

                        If you are curious about my list and want more info - e-mail me at
                        and I will send you my spreadsheet - it has all the details - what area they are located in etc.- and with each place -I've pasted the review/reviews which got my mouth watering and got each place on the list!


                        1. re: NellyNel

                          Nel - your mention of Albino Il Sardo brings back memories. I ate there several times during the summers of 1982 and 1983, and enjoyed it very much, but have not been back in years. Indeed, I've never seen the place mentioned on this board. How did you learn of it, and how are the current reports? Thanks, Jeremy

                          1. re: Jeremy M

                            Hi Jeremy!

                            I stumbled across an old post on Tripadvisor...this guy gave a wonderful account of his two meals there. He mentioned certain dished that really peaked my interest!
                            The same guy also had a once in a lifetime spluge at La Pergola - which he also gave an an amazing blow by blow account of.
                            Later on - on one of the forums someone was asking about La Pergola and this man wrote that while La Pergola was a truly spectacular experience... the fondest meal and memory he had of Rome was his last meal at Albino Il Sardo!
                            So naturally I had to do some research, but I didn't find too much info ...there is no web-site, and as you said - nothing on CH...i guess that only made it more appealing to me!

                            It landed on my final 4 list too..and although I won't be going to Rome this year - it will certainly be on my list for when I do finally get there!


                          2. re: NellyNel

                            NellyNel - would you be amenable to sharing your list with yet another hound? I am in the beginning stages of planning and I am intrigued by what you have written!

                            1. re: roxlet

                              Sure - just mail me your e-mail address!

                          3. re: Mushroom

                            I just returned from Italy and read so many suggestions from Chow that I thought I would report. I had the pleasure of dining at several of the places on your list and here are my reviews:
                            1. Armando al Pantheon: the gnocchi al gorgonzola was heavenly! We were also very pleased with the Spaghetti con tartufo and a veal dish whose name escapes me. Fabrizio was wonderfully hospitable and accomodating! It was the perfect first meal in Rome!
                            We missed our second night's dinner at time hopefully! We had also planned to have a Sunday lunch at Coline Emiliane and much to our disappointment, found that they were completely booked around lunchtime. We began wandering and stumbled upon a place called Terrazza Barberini (we were lured by their lovely rooftop terrace) and had the most delicious ravioli I have ever tasted. I believe it was ravioli with speck and porcini.
                            2. Mondo Arancina for rice balls and pizza before heading to the Vatican. I highly recommend the spinach and mozzarella rice ball!
                            3. On our third night, we dined at Al Ceppo. Everything about this upscale meal was exceptional. We drank several bottles of wine that evening, but the dishes that I remember were a) the antipasti dish consisting of egg and black truffles. b) a primi of tagliatelli alla carbonara and white truffles c) veal sweetbreads. Excellent!
                            4. Our last dinner was at Antico Arco - loved the more modern atmosphere of this restaurant. We went on a Monday night, and it was incredibly busy and service was extremely in, the waiter took almost 45 minutes to take our wine order...aside from that, the highlights of the meal included the cheese, compotes and bread antipasti, pappardelle with a white duck ragu, Risotto with cheese and red wine sauce, Spaghetti with pecorino cheese and artichokes, and the veal cutlet with potatoes & this salty lemon sorbet! Oh - and their molten chocolate dessert was perfect!
                            Hope this helps!

                  3. re: NellyNel

                    You're right about artichokes in July, but you should be in high cotton for zucchini flowers!
                    I would go to Checco er Carritiere [via Benedetta 10] in Trastevere neighborhood and eat whatever they tell you. The fish is great and so are the zucchini flowers! The waiters will guide you well. Checco has a bar next door, same name, so don't be confused. Also, it is in a little alley and doesn't really have much of a sign. Across the street from the Ponte Sisto, there is a statue [I cannot remember who it is]. Go down the behind the statue and make a right. Checco will be on your left. It doesn't look like much from the alley, but go on in and enjoy. Si mangia bene!

                    1. re: jaybeck

                      Thank you so much Jay!!

                      I'm pretty sure Checco was on my list at some point - I have to look into it now.
                      I love the thought of letting the waiters choose my meal - I'll be happy to just let them feed me!

                      Tell me - will any artichokes be on the menus? ...oh well the ZF will make up for it!!

                      Thanks so much!

                  4. re: Mushroom

                    For what its worth, on my Rome trip Thanksgiving 2007 I ate at Monti,Armando,Colline and Paris and enjoyed them all. I also remember that they were not full of tourists and that most of the people around me were clearly local. My one regret was not making a reservation at Sora Margherita. After a full morning in the Jewish Museum I strolled over to find a long line out the door and that they were not taking any more names. Enjoy

                    1. re: stuartlafonda

                      I had to laugh after reading all of the above as I too have an ever changing list. I'm relieved to know I'm not the only on obsessed with my restaurant picks. We will be in Rome the end of April, 4 nights and 3 in Florence where we will be dragging our daughter back home after a wonderful semester for her in Florence and all over Europe.
                      I'm going to rely on her to pick the places in Florence as she is a "foodie" too. My list for Rome includes Paris, La Piazzetta, Filetti di Baccala, Montevecchio,Osteria da Giovanni ar Galletto, Palatium, Barcaccia and La Veranda.
                      I would love any comments.


                2. Am grateful for your report, Frannyfran, as I'm another one obsessing about our trip to rome in early May. It's been decades since I was there and so I have to learn what restaurants are worth visiting these days.

                  We have yet to plan our entire trip; we have 8 days, was thinking to spend 2 or 3 of them in Florence, Bologna or Perugia. Input welcome!

                  1. I'm going to tag on here in my search for an address for a great little restaurant I was sent to by a student in Trastevere - La Strada. Want to send a friend there, but can't find address. Anyone help? (It's opposite a small church - not Santa Maria of Trastevere) very near the river and a block or two from one of the bridges.

                    Same students rule of thumb for restaurants in Rome - the "Two Euro Rule". Look at the menu, check the price of bruchetta. If it exceeds two euros, you're not in a locals restaurant. Don't know if it always holds (and this was two years ago, so rule might have roamed (no pun) upwards a little), but guided us to some great meals in small places.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: dreif

                      I don't know La Strada, which may be perfectly fine, but the two euro rule is ridiculous. Restaurants rarely put bruschetta on the menu at all -- it's a pizzeria dish -- but a good restaurant might serve it either completely free or at a higher price because, among other things, they are using superior ingredients. You just can't tell. Locals don't just go to cheap restaurants.