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Apr 9, 2009 03:43 PM

Roman/Lazian (don't know what one calls food from Lazio) in Rome

I'm leaving in four days and don't have as much time to comb the many posts on Rome as I would like...I am interested in old-school Lazio/Roman chow. Offal, artichokes, etc. I've got Fred Plotkin at my side but would love to hear from anyone else who has recent experience. Thanks!

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  1. I favor Latian as the adjective of Lazio. You'll have no trouble finding artichokes, but the Quinto Quarto (what Romans call offal) is trickier. Checchino is the most reliable, and I've had good recent reports of Agustarello in Testaccio. I haven't been, but Da Oio a Casa mia in Testaccio has its following, also Felice, which is probably still to be considered old school despite the tarting up a couple of years ago. Nerone is pretty old school and reliable. The trouble with the quinto quarto stuff is that if the ingredients aren't perfect (speaking especially of pagliata), the dishes can be really nasty. And a really traditional Roman trattoria may well not warn a tourist that today it might be better to order something else because part of Roman tradition is not taking seriously a customer you think is just passing through. All the traditional restaurants offer only a small fraction of the Roman repertoire. Osteria San Cesario outside the city has a good menu, but isn't transcendental or anything. Checchino has a large menu too.

    5 Replies
    1. re: mbfant

      Thanks to Maureen's recommendation, I had a memorable pajata at Nerone a few years ago. Well located if you happen to be touring the Colisseum.

      1. re: erica

        Checchino is terrific. Last weekend I had a wonderful spelt and artichoke soup and my friend had a brilliant rigatoni alla pajata. We both had delicious oxtail. Go there if you can! It is closed Sun dinner and monday. I want to like Nerone but I have always been disappointed. A shame since I live about 50 feet away...

        1. re: katieparla

          Red-faced, I have to amend my recommendation of Nerone. Although I had had good meals here in the past, including the one featuring the aforementioned pajata, my last meal (2 years ago) was disappointing.

          From my notes:

          The day before, we had phoned for lunch reservations at Da Nerone so we walked from the Capitoline Hill, stopping to visit the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Victor Emmanuelle "wedding cake" monument, past the Colisseum and up the steps and to the Via della Terme di Tito, where Hostaria da Nerone has occuped #96 since 1929.

          We were looking forward very much to sampling two dishes that we had enjoyed at two previous meals here a few years back. One of these was gnocchi, so we schduled our lunch for Thursday, the traditional gnocchi eating day in Rome. Da Nerone serves gnocchi two different ways, alla Romana and with a tomato and meat sauce, "al sugo."

          The other dish that I had enjoyed twice in one week here on a previous visit to Rome was the spaghetti with vongole, clams.

          These dishes would serve as our main course for this light lunch. Nerone features a long, two -tiered antipasti display from which I selected artichoke alla Romana for an appetizer.

          I was disappointed with the artichoke. This was partly my fault, because, as I noted to myself when I selected it, it looked just like the carciofi bathed in sufnlower oil that are sold at many alimentari. (They are also easy to find here in the US at Italian food shops, as they are imported into the US in bulk) Sure enough, I tasted it and knew I had made a mistake in ordering.

          En route back to the table from the washroom, I noticed two gentelmen seated before two sublimely delicious looking artichokes. Wait a minute!!! I immediately asked the waiter about them, only to be told that yes, my artichoke was indeed marinated in sunflower (girasole) oil and it was the one listed on the menu from the antipasti bar. The gentlemen were eating Carciofi all Diavola which is not on the menu and which is cooked in olive oil.

          Another lesson was brought home to me: LOOK AROUND AT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE EATING BEFORE YOU MAKE YOUR SELECTION. If you don't see something on the menu, ask. And do not necessarily think that the selections on the antipasti bar are the best things to eat before your meal.

          The meal continued with the gnocchi al sugo, which my partner deemed not as good as he had remembered. And my spaghetti con vongole had far more clam shells than actual tiny clams, although it was tasty enough.

          Price of this light lunch was 37 euro with water and house wine.

          I am sorry to say I have to give a thumbs down to Da Nerone, although those artichokes all diavolo looked outrageous. Next time we will take our Thursday gnocchi, and all that goes with it, someplace else.

          1. re: erica

            I will have to get to the bottom of the artichoke business. Nerone's carciofi alla romana were always very good. Never heard them speak of alla diavola. Of course, I have almost never seen a menu there. Carciofi alla romana aren't marinated in anything. They are braised. I haven't been in quite a while, but I must say the poor reports are piling up. The carbonara was always made by Eugenio's sister and the artichokes trimmed ("capati") by his brother, neither of whom is a spring chicken.

      2. re: mbfant

        I had a great dish of pajata at Augustarello, along with wonderful pastas during my last trip to Rome. I loved the place, though it literally feels like you are eating in someone's house.

      3. Here is link to a recent NY Times article on trattorias in Rome:

        2 Replies
        1. re: DavidT

          for most of us living in rome that NYT article is a big affront to what we know as a trattoria. da felice? pigneto 41? these are not laid back easy going neighborhood joints where you can eat well for reasonable prices. you dont have to spend a lot (da felice) or go to trendy places (pigneto 41) to find a great meal. both of them have their place in their own way but i wouldnt consider either of them top culinary destinations.

          1. re: katieparla

            Thanks for the local perspective!

        2. The adjective for anything from Lazio is Laziale (LOTS-yahl-ay)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Fred Plotkin

            That's true, but the accent is on the second syllable (as undoubtedly you intended). In English, it's Latian, but editors always give me a hard time when I use it (and eventually let me).