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Nov 1, 2009 01:09 AM

Rome- your standbys and go tos.

We've been traveling through Rome, Umbria and a brief stint in Positano the past few weeks and have had a lot of hit and miss experiences despite combing the boards. We've spent a lot of time in Florence and perhaps came to Rome looking for restaurants that have that cozy yet lively atmosphere and great food without pretentious service. We are staying in Trastevere (but will go to any neighborhood) and had one of our favorite meals of the trip at Le Mani in Pasta. The Insalata Polpo e Patate has been our favorite dish of the trip and their pasta with porcini mushroom special knocked us out in the best possible way. The food was excellent and despite being sat next to another American couple with a penchant for talking on their cell phones, we had a great meal.

We also tried Paris but found the food to only be ok (pasta with squid and artichokes was great, fried artichokes were small and on the greasier side), the service to be lacking and the environment stale.

We also tried Mario’s on Via del Moro in hopes of a authentic trattoria experience but found it to be only average.

So chowhounders, I would love your help. I like to keep our meals to less than 75 euros unless there is a wine splurge. I've come to realize that I am willing to pay a bit for atmosphere and liveliness. And by atmosphere, I don't mean stark white table clothes and fancy waiters and while I love the idea of using compact fluorescent light bulbs in commercial spaces, I don't find them conducive to mood lighting. We are more into traditional than innovative in terms of cooking style. Places like Ripa 12 look beautiful but we're hoping for some thing a bit more cozy.

We have three more nights in Rome and are hoping for some really reliable suggestions.

I've read great things about Antico Arco on here and am leaning towards heading there tonight.

I'd like to try Piperno for the artichokes alone. Perhaps it is better for lunch?

Trattoria Mont gets great reviews but I feel like there is nothing to "discover" there in the sense that they have been written up in every book, magazine, website.

also thinking about Osteria al Galletto, Da Sergio, Maccheroni, Da Tonino, Roscioli, Enoteca Corsi and any others that you recommend!

Thanks so much.

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  1. I'm confused by your interest in Antico Arco. I think posters have been quite consistent in their description of Antico Arco's innovative approach. My husband and I loved the restaurant; we had a sublime meal there. If you're willing to jettison the "traditional" requirement, you'll eat well there.

    My vote for excellent traditional food in a traditional setting would be L'Angoletto near Piazza Rotonda. Here's a link to a post that includes my review of a relatively recent lunch there:
    (Incidentally, if you search this board and locate post 2 of 2 you'll be able to read my detailed review of Antico Arco.)

    4 Replies
    1. re: Indy 67

      Sorry if my interest in Antico Arco seemed confusing. And perhaps innovative vs traditional was the wrong choice of words. Basically, we are looking for reliable both for food and for service and atmosphere. Your reviews are great and very helpful and L’Angoletto looks perfect. It's is nice to know that you've gone there a number of times and had wonderful experiences.

      1. re: Indy 67

        And I am confused about your comments that there is "nothing to discover" at Trattoria Monti. All of the places you mention have been well covered in guidebooks and articles.

        1. re: erica

          I think there would be good food for you to discover at Trattoria Monti. We were there last week and were quite please by our dishes - my hubands plate of a giant tortelli with an egg yolk inside (with butter and sage rather than tomato sauce) and my dish of lamb brains with funghi porcini were both absolutely delicicious. I was less pleased with my signature thin pasta with anchovies, raisins and cheese and even less pleased with the neglectful service (we waited a full hour for our first course while people all around ate and left, plus two dishes we ordered were never brought). The servers were charming young men and the clientele was a good mix of stylish and down to earth, but I think they must be overwhelmed and jaded by the number of one time touristic visitors. they receive. It really left a bit of a bad taste - I dont want to criticize, because I think this is a highly meritorious restaurant but we left feeling quite let down by the front of the house. PS they were serving a house red only by the glass - it was quite good , a Rosso Piceno, but turned out to be 6E per glass, so look out and make sure you get a good pour.

          PS re artichokes, all the artichokes we saw in the markets were at the small end of the spectrum - and usually the roman artichoke dishes Ive seen have used smaller rather than huge artichokes - maybe someone more knowlegeable can comment, but when Ive seen the roman artichoke dishes, carciofa alla romana or alla giuda, usually they use smallish chokes not big globes.

          1. re: jen kalb

            I second what you said about Monti. I've been disappointed the last few times and find it just too crowded for comfort, but there would be plenty to discover.

            Paris too seemed a little tired last time we went.

            The artichoke situation is this: Roman artichokes are indeed large globes, ranging from pretty darn big to huge, but they are not yet in season. What are available now are rather small (though quite tasty), many of them from Puglia, some from France.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. I haven't been to Sergio, Maccheroni, or Tonino, but in general this is not an interesting list. Corsi is very cute, especially if you sit in the shop, but I have always found the food good but not special. Likewise Galletto. Roscioli's bakery is good for stand-up pizza during the day, but the restaurant is another story. The one time I went I thought it was too international by half, and the other evening I walked by it with my Roman husband and we looked at the menu. He sneered and just took off muttering about how we couldn’t go to places like that. I never finished reading the menu, but I did see the word hamburger and a lot of international-sounding things. The quality is undoubtedly tops, but I wouldn’t dine there.

          I hesitate to tell you my go-to places because it is the nature of Roman restaurants, even more than other places, to be one thing for regulars and another thing for transients. Nevertheless, the places I keep going back to are Checchino dal 1887, Paris (but was disappointed last time), Al Ceppo, Nerone, Tuna, Palatium, Agata e Romeo (fancy), Convivio (fancy), and La Piazzetta. For pizza, Li Rioni near the Colosseum, and Bir e Fud (really!), in Trastevere.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mbfant

            I'm not sure how I wound up reading this thread, as it's been 2 years since we've been in Rome and we have no immediate plans to return (sigh). However, I just wanted to the list a couple of things...

            Although I know that Jen has said that it's no longer as good as it used to be & mbfant told me that it doesnt inspire her (& hubby), we wound up at La Campana for dinner 2 years ago and were impressed. I dont know whether they were just "on" or if this pushy New Yawker just endeared himself to a pushy Roman waiter, but we wound up really liking everything (my code for not remembering specifics).

            Additionally, there was another place by the Colisseum that mbfant told us about over lunch one day and we went another night. It had a major down home feel, an extensive "pick dishes from a display" type buffet & a very solid simplicity with cooking that made it a highlight of our stay in the area. Sitting outside talking to the staff and other non-tourist patrons (it's a bit out of the way for tourists who cant navigate urban idiosyncratic street names) was very nice. The name? Well, maybe Maureen can weigh in, as I cant recall the entire name... "Neone"? Well, back to the Outer Boroughs (NYC) board.

            1. re: Steve R

              We were just back to La Campana last month and it was solid, crowded and convivial on a sunday. I liked our dishes and the way they displayed the vegetables, fruit and sweets on offer near the entry - when someone ordered the waiters carried it through to the kitchen. the other place is Nerone of Via Terme di Tito, another old time trattoria. Its been several years since we were there but the do the Roman classic dishes well. There was a recent bad report on their carbonara but it was hard for me at least to believe it was more than a fluke.

              1. re: jen kalb

                Steve, yes, Nerone. As in the emperor Nero, atop whose Golden House the restaurant stands.
                Sounds like it's time to give La Campana another try. When I first started coming to Rome, more decades ago than I will admit, it was my absolute fave.
                And Jen, sad to say, it IS possible that Nerone's carbonara has taken a dive. I have heard reports (from the engineers who have lunch there) that Eugenio's sister is no longer in the kitchen, and she was responsible for their famous carbonara. I haven't been in a while so I can't verify.

                1. re: mbfant

                  I looked back at the Nerone report (from April) and it was from Howler, who is reliable, reporting on a carbonara awash in pasta water (this is what I cant conceive), bangladeshis in the kitchen and a peruvian waiter. So maybe it was a fluke but maybe not. I think there have been more recent, positive reports but sounds like the foundations are shaking.