Rome report - mostly winners
Just got back from Rome and with suggestions from this list and puntarella rossa, we had good-great eats, with no major disappointments (a couple of minor ones...)
Off the plane we checked in and we went to La Gensola in Trastevere. Partook of: cavolo nero with porcini, potatoes and fresh egg, spag with sea urchin, spag with fresh anchovies. It was lovely. The two pastas were revelatory - then again, I like sea urchin. We would have gone back again, but they were book for all of the nights were were there.
Dinner was at Trattoria Monti. My humble opinion: disappointing. Perhaps we ordered wrong, but for me, in a good restaurant, this should not happen. Had the budino of zucchini, which was good, but the texture was a little too crumbly, the rigatoni with sausage and pecorino, and the baccala in the style of livorno (pignoli, raisins). The fish was definitely not soaked enough, and was unpleasantly salty. Also had a contorni of radicchio, which was fine.
Lunch at Da Lucia in Trastevere. Fine for what it is: a small, once-family-owned trat, that feeds you if you are hungry. Their carciofi alla romana was, however, the best we had in the city. We had the puntarelle, bombollini al'amatriciana, and the spag alla grigia. The former pasta was better than the latter, though both suffered somewhat from the lack of pancetta/guanciale. What was there was a bit too crunchy, and overcooked. Nice coffee.
Dinner at unlisted ai Fienaroli (Trastevere). It was our second fave place. It was big, but all of the pasta was homemade, and delicate and delicious. Their cicoria contorni was impeccable, also had a carciofi alla romana. We had the ravioli stuffed with sea bass, zucchini flowers, the pasta with mini squid, and the abacchio, which was great. We had originally wanted to Da Felice but reservations were impossible to come by.
Lunch at Da Danilo in Merulana. Exquisite. We met friends and thus had more of a chance to eat around the menu. Tried their puntarelle (a little too much garlic, a problem I always have in the US, but never in Europe), their broccoli, carciofi. All good. I had the strozapretti with porcini, carciofi, and pecorino, which was great. Very rich, but not too much. The quality of their homemade pasta was the best. Also tried the beef, which was terrific, their carbonara (one of the 10 best in the city, apparently, and yes, I agree), and their rigatoni alla grigia.
Dinner - after an unsuccessful attempt at getting into Renato e Luisa, we went back to ai Fienaroli, and ate again. Unthinkable, I know. I had to have the cicoria again, which I did, and we also had their house prosciutto, which was just OK, their carciofi alla giuda, which was great, and their stuffed zucchini flowers, which tasted like very refined bar food. I think they have excellent pastas, however. For dinner, I had the tagliolini with seafood (gamberi, cozze and vongole) which was wonderful, husband had tagliolini sea bass and eggplant. From what we understand, they have a great seafood contact, and it shows. The shrimp were sweet, and tender. It was terrific. Their homemade pasta was much eggier than at Da Danilo, but still really nicely done.
Had plenty of gelati, and it was all fine, but the one taste that I really wanted to have again and that disappointed was Alberto PIca's gelato di riso. Though the flavour had a good rice-y depth and toastiness, the riso was tooth-breakingly hard. Oh well.
Is this the Da Danilo on via Petrarca 15, www[dot]trattoriadadanilo[dot]it? If so, Downie endorses it in his Terroir Guide _Food Wine Rome_, p.221. I'll be at St. John Lateran for an evening Mass this coming spring, and I've considered eating here because of its proximity.
And as I've mentioned elsewhere, I am on the quest for the Holy Grail of carbonara. So thanks for you're mentioning it.
re: Sid Cundiff
Just returned from Rome and we ate at Da Danilo on 12/3. Highly recommend the strozzaprete con carciofi, porcini, e crema di pecorino. Different form of strozzaprete than we've found elsewhere. Puntarella Rossa rated Danilo's carbonara best in Rome. For dessert, try their Gasperino (if you like chocolate. Reasonable prices. Yes, it is near Laterano - take Merulana north from Laterano to Via Alfieri (small street), follow Alfieri north until it becomes Via Petrarca just past a park/garden. Danilo is on right (east side of street. I believe it's closed on Sundays.
In the next day or 2, I will write up our dining experiences in Rome and you will find some other places to try.