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Dec 12, 2009 09:28 AM

Downie's _Food Wine Rome_: 2nd Post: Vatican area, Prati

Downie's _Food Wine Rome_: 2nd Post: Vatican area, Prati

Views of Chowhounders needed and most welcome about Downie’s suggestions for this area, which he puts into two chapters. For Downie, who writes about restaurants with authentic Roman cuisine, see my post from 28. Nov. One Chowhounder has suggested that Downie needs to be read carefully for his “hidden teaching”, that Downie enthuses about a few places and mentions the others as curiosities.

For two nights this spring I’ll be staying at Hotel Sant’Anna on the Borgio Pio, very close to San Pietro. I’ve always found the Vatican area a gastronomic wasteland, and I’ve assumed that the food gets better the further north and east one goes from the Vatican. (Not that Rome’s eating is like Venice and Florence, two cities where from my experience the better places are around the edge of the city. Rome’s center has plenty of outstanding and good eateries.)

The Vatican area’s lack seems to be reflected by Downie, who mentions only five establishments in his chapter “Castel Sant’Angelo, Prati, Vaticano”, ##1-5 below. (I’ll not mention all that he lists.)


1. L’ARCANGELO, Via Giuseppe Gioccino Belli 59/61. Downie: Roman cooking lightened and updated, updated Quinto Quarto cooking, possibly the best tripe in town

2. AL RAGNO D’ORO DA MARCO E FABRIO, Via Silla 26. restaurant/pizzeria

3. FRANCHI, via Colla di Rienzo 200-204. Reviewed by Downie in one sentence as a simple, quick lunch

4. IL MATRICIANO, Via dei Gracci 55. Several Chowhounders have found this place blameworthy. Downie calls the amatriciana, the house speciality, among the best in town.

5. CESARE, Via Crescenzio 15. Am I correct that our own M. Fant likes this place?

6. ANTICO FALCONE, Via Trionfale 60. Downie waxes lyrical for this place’s authenticity, the carbonara, he says, is among the best in Rome.

7. CACIO E PEPE – DA GIANNI, Via Avezzana 11. Downie says simple food at low prices; short menu (a good sign); house specialty tonnarelli cacio e pepe, in huge portions. no credit cards.

8. MICCI, Via Andrea Doria 55A www[dot]fratellimicci[dot]it

9. OSTERIA DELL’ANGELO, via Giovanni Bettolo 24/28. Supper a prix fixe menu, when one pays for everything whether eaten or not.

10. GRAN CAFFE BORGO, Borgo Pio 170, just a cafe, near my hotel.


11. DA BENITO E GILBERTO, via del Falco 19

12. IL SIMPOSIO DI COSTANTINI, Piazza Cavour 16. I’ve been here, had a good meal, esp. the wine; yet for a high end restaurant, I prefer other places in Rome. It’s both a wine bar and a restaurant.

13. SETTEMBRINI, Via Settembrini 25/27 www[dot]settembriniroma[dot]it


14. Sor'eva, Piazza della Rovere 108.

15. Giarrosta Dal Toscano, Via Germanico 56

16. Sagra Del Vino. off Via Marziale

17 . Ristochicco, Borgo Pio 186

18. Tre Pupazzi, Borgo Pio


19. Les Etoiles, 14 Les Etoiles, Hotel Atlantic Star, via dei Bastioni 1. You can’t complain about the view; the food for the money might be better elsewhere, in my judgement.

20. Taverna Angelica, piazza Americo Capponi 6, Borgio Bitttorio 17. For the money I’ve eaten better elsewhere.


21. Il Mozzicone dei Fratelli Poggi, Borgo Pio, 180, recommended by a blogger priest, who says the carbonara and the liver are good

22. Osteria dei Pontefici Ristorante - Pizzeria, Via Gregorio VII, 53

23. I San Pietrini Ristorante Pizzeria, www[dot]isanpietrini[dot]it

I'll also need recommendations for a bakery in the area.

I thank all who replied to my earlier post. Your judgements and suggestions were very helpful. Now please tell me what you know about above.

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  1. This is my quartiere!
    1. very, very good; comfortable feeling upscale; Roman food but on a higher level. Expect to pay 60+ euros at least per person.
    2. don't know about pizza, we were there once and had regular food, rather on the fish side. Not bad but I wouldn't go again - nothing made want to. Full of regulars & tourists, again one of the places where the service (and I assume the food as well) get better the more regular you are.
    3. Franchi is a deli, right next to the famed Castroni. You can buy rather good (but not like Volpetti or Roscioli) cold cuts and cheeses for a picnic, or can have some quick-dishes to take away or eat there standing: roast meats, fried vegetables, suppli, etc.
    4. After a couple of mediocre meals and especially a rather racist/fascist comment from a waiter, we don't go there anymore.
    5. Cesare is better than I thought at the beginning. Not cheap for what it is, though.
    6. If you take it as a theater show with dinner, it is interesting. The food left us unimpressed, the wine was horrible (but that was to be expected). But it was funny watching the owners (old!) and the customers interact. It is Roman, but the food just doesn't make me whoop. I would take out of town friends, though, just to experience the atmosphere.
    7. Huge disappointment. Bad food.
    8. A nice trattoria with decent food.
    9. Very nice experience - again, the atmo and the people are part of the show (rugby!) and you do get a good overview of Roman (especially quinto quarto) cuisine for 25 euros. Not a culinary highlight, but nice.
    10. ?
    11. Havent been yet but hear very very good things from Roman friends - supposed to be very good fish. Reservations necessary!
    12. Overpriced. To buy wines, Costantini is the place (huge selection, good prices, good sales staff, some speak english), I prefer it to Trimani, but don't need to eat there.
    13. Recently got new owners and cook and has a bit of a yuppie clientèle but the food is good - not roman, but modern dishes. Also good for aperitivo. (The bar - meaning cafe - next door has great sweets and coffee)
    14. ?
    15. Nice place for pizza (not the best but decent), fried vegetables and especially all kinds of meat (bistecca fiorentina - it is not the real thing (chianina) but just fine to satisfy the meat craving). They have a buffet lunch option which a lot of regulars opt for.
    16. We love this place for simple & good Roman food, especially the secondi which often delude us in other places. mama cooks, papa and figlio serve, is full of locals, reservations a must. It is exactly at the point where Marziale and Medaglie d'oro fork off. 2, 6, 7 and 9 are all in the same bracket (in every sense) as this one and I would take Sagra del Vino anytime, everytime.
    17. ?
    18. Never been but somehow looks like fake/touristy to me, don't know, just a feeling.
    19 & 20, oh, please.
    21, 22, 23 ?
    Bakery: I have no favorite here in the area, I always buy at Roscioli. But: at Pizzarium (via meloria) you can get *the best* (I know!) pizza al taglio - thick crust, so not Roman, but made of organic flour, sourdough that has fermented for 72 hrs, and the best, very often organic, toppings. And very good choice of artisanal beers (italian and others). Also have crochette, suppli and sometimes, if the regulars haven't reserved it all (cough), you can very good bread. The owner/chef, Bonci the bear, knows his doughs, definitely!