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Blue Guide Concise Rome recommendations

Blue Guides seems to cater to the educated and curious tourist interested in the arts and history. Its _Rome Guide_ is pretty good to have in hand when touring (Krautheimer is just too big to lug). Yet its lodging and dining sections seem to have been added _pro forma_ -- as something such a guide ought have, yet not the emphasis.

_The Concise Blue Guide Rome_, just off the press, has -- despite its name -- more detail as to where to eat. Many of its recommendations appear on Chowhound.

Most of the eateries recommended which I know I can confirm. I would welcome Chowhounders' views on the following, which I don't know yet caught my attention:

LA TAVERNA DEGLI AMICI aka A Tormargana, Piazza Margana 37. Seems to be recommended more for location. "typical Roman fare and an impressive wine list"

ROSCIOLI, Via dei Guibbonari 21, is listed as a wine and cheese shop and otherwise "a place where you can sit on a stool at the counter to enjoy an excellent meal". I thought it was a restaurant with sit down tables. Can someone confirm?

IL MATRICIANO, Via dei Gracchi. Recommended for lunch. I've generally found the Vatican area an gastronomic wasteland.

DITIRAMBO, Piazza della Cancelleria 74: "a simple cosy place with two small main rooms".
"serves rather unusual dishes"

DA FORTUNATO AL PANTHEON, Via del Pantheon 55: "traditional Roman restaurant with particularly high quality food"

LA SAGRESTIA, Via del Seminario 89

MONTECARLO, Vicolo Savelli 12 "good simple local dishes". I myself am suspicious of places with pretentious names.

AL CEPPO, Via Panama 2 "grilled meats especially good".

LA SELLA DEL DIAVOLO, Via Ostiense 102 good for fish and Sardinian specialites"

SORA LELLA, Via di Ponte dei Quattro Capi. Chowhounders themselves have given decidedly different views of this place.

A closing word of thanks to Chowhound's Italian Board contributors, whom I've relied upon for several years.

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  1. Da Fortunato is a favorite with politicians. There were none there when I was, but their photos are all over the walls. Otherwise, I found it more expensive but not necessarily better than other places for traditional Roman dishes. La Sagrestia I found OK but nothing special the one time I ate there. Montecarlo is a busy pizzeria with no pretensions of grandeur.

    1 Reply
    1. re: zerlina

      I agree with Zerlina and with Sid's suspicions. Having purchased BG this past May, I would caution against following its many disappointing suggestions. Cadogan Guide was far better, far more consistent and far more informative.

      La Sagrestia is better known for everyday pizza but not much else (Sid, as you know, very good pizza in Rome is elsewhere). Fortunato offers outside seating which, in the afternoon, if in the vicinity of the Pantheon is a much better option than Sagrestia. Fortunato is far more expensive but in a pleasant location with better selections. You know, of course, Chowhounders preference for Armando.

      Degli Amici is indeed in a pleasant location but food is only average. Roscioli does have dining tables in the rear of the shop (front is an upscale food & wine market) - food is creative and nicely done but I found it disconcerting w/ market shoppers and tourists wandering round your table in a very cramped spot. Roscioli Forno's pizza carryout down the street had terrific baked goods (breads and pizza slices). Forget Matriciano - not worth side tripping for this even if you are in the Vatican neighborhood.

      Montecarlo - your intuition is spot on, pass. I was unenthusiastic with Al Ceppo. The room is nice, others love it, they indeed grill meats and Michelin forks are awarded but, my opinion here, the trek to Parioli is not worth the requisite time, energy and effort.

      I have not tried Dithrambo but three Romans in the Campo area, including our landlady (we had an apartment off the Campo) were decidedly indifferent, claiming it was either a tourist trap or a spot they would not bother to go to. On the other hand, many glowing comments are posted on CH and its highlighted in all the guide books.

      BTW, Sid I found your past posts to be informative and helpful in compiling our list of restaurants in May. Thank you for you sharing your past suggestions here.

    2. Thanks for the kind and wise replies.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sid Cundiff

        sid if you havent read David Downie's recent Rome food guide you should take a look at it. It has a very specific focus on traditional Roman food, and you may not agree with all his judgements but it seems very comprehensive and would be a better choice for stepping out than the warmed over recommendations in that Blue guide. I think TimeOut does a good job too within English language guides of picking up a range of different types of places (unlike Downie) and neighborhoods.

        1. re: jen kalb

          Thanks, Jen, for Downie's book. I've got it and I'll post some of its recommendations, beginning at once. And I'll look for the TimeOut guide.

          1. re: Sid Cundiff

            A lot of the Timout reviews are on their online site. Its easy enough to cut and paste those of interest into a document or PDA. I mention it because it does get updated, it covers a range of neighborhoods, price levels and as well as regional cuisines, newer style and even some foreign restaurants, all of which Downie scants. It seems a pity to slight the regional restaurants in a guide to the cuisine of the nations capital, where so many are represented.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Funny enough, I purchased David Downie's book at Volpetti's in May and found it was a terrific resource. I did not always agree but his writing style is engaging and, more often than not, found several eateries and shops (and small "farmers markets" in tiny piazzas) we were considering visiting. DD helped sway us and proved to have a good batting average. Thanks Jen and Sidy - totally forgot about this very good culinary guide.

      2. LA TAVERNA DEGLI AMICI aka A Tormargana, Piazza Margana 37. Seems to be recommended more for location. "typical Roman fare and an impressive wine list"

        Don't knock location. Oddly, it's a sort of difficult area.

        ROSCIOLI, Via dei Guibbonari 21, is listed as a wine and cheese shop and otherwise "a place where you can sit on a stool at the counter to enjoy an excellent meal". I thought it was a restaurant with sit down tables. Can someone confirm?

        It's both. The tables are in the shop. Very chi-chi faux rustic. Supposedly great food, but it all seems very artificial and international to me.

        IL MATRICIANO, Via dei Gracchi. Recommended for lunch. I've generally found the Vatican area an gastronomic wasteland.

        A lot of people like it. I haven't been for years -- wasn’t impressed.

        DITIRAMBO, Piazza della Cancelleria 74: "a simple cosy place with two small main rooms".
        "serves rather unusual dishes"

        For cosy read cramped. Opinions vary greatly.

        DA FORTUNATO AL PANTHEON, Via del Pantheon 55: "traditional Roman restaurant with particularly high quality food"

        It's very good, in the classic mold, but usually considered a bit high-priced for essentially trattoria food, but it's a very nice place.

        LA SAGRESTIA, Via del Seminario 89

        Most people go for pizza. It's a little bit of a trattoria-pizzeria near the Pantheon, the sort of place you would go if you were in the neighborhood but wouldn’t cross town for.

        MONTECARLO, Vicolo Savelli 12 "good simple local dishes". I myself am suspicious of places with pretentious names.

        Never been, but I certainly don't consider its name pretentious.

        AL CEPPO, Via Panama 2 "grilled meats especially good".

        And much more than that. It's a well-rounded, excellent restaurant. People get fixated on the grilling because they have a big fireplace.

        LA SELLA DEL DIAVOLO, Via Ostiense 102 good for fish and Sardinian specialites"

        Don't know it.

        SORA LELLA, Via di Ponte dei Quattro Capi. Chowhounders themselves have given decidedly different views of this place.

        Yes, I'm one of the ones who come down against it. Overpriced and not that good, which is a pity, given the location.

        1. La Montecarlo is anything but pretentious. It's a large, loud, bustling pizza joint which is always packed with Romans. Pizza here is very, very good, with an even thinner crust than the already very thin crust of many other Roman pizzerias. Also atypical here is the "Montecarlo" which is a pizza with egg, peppers, artichoke, sausage and olives. Sounds like a psychotic amount of toppings on a pizza, but it's very good. Search chow for "Monte Carlo" (two words) to find a lot of positive reviews. As always, check your bill because they will attempt to over-charge you.

          1. I again thank those who have replied.