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Family of 4 in Rome (Piazza Navona)

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I'm new to ChowHound and have read through a lot of topics/posts - thank you all for your expertise and varying opinions on restaurants and food in general. Although I have been to Rome and Italy a handful of times on business and have experienced some wonderful restaurants, this will be the first time that I am taking my family. We have two children (13 & 11) that love what I'll call "slightly higher than middle of the road" Italian food. Although we live in Denver now, we are from NY and have experienced some great food experiences. One of my concerns is that although my children love food, they're not quite to the point where they can appreciate the highest quality establishments - it would go lost on them and indeed the chef.

We will be staying at the Raphael Hotel in the Navona area and be there for 3 nights prior to a cruise....and yet another night at the end of our cruise in the Termeni area at the Boscola Exedra. Can anyone give us some recommendations for lunch & dinner. We of course are looking for an above average experience without going to anything too stuffy. We already had l'Orso 80 on our list and Da Baffetto for pizza but are open to others. Thank you CH!

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  1. I'm thinking that surely you are going to be out and about at the lunch hour. Have you roughed out a sightseeing itinerary that gives you some indication of where your family is likely to be when the Italian lunch hour arrives? And will you want to break for a nice big Italian lunch -- or were you thinking you'd eat on the go?

    Another question: are your children ok with getting their first course at dinnertime between 8-8:30pm? (Pizza for dinner, not lunch, is very popular in Italy and is available earlier.)

    I only ask because I think your added information will help people give you recommendations that fit with to any schedule you might have.

    7 Replies
    1. re: summerUWS2008

      Thank you for your reply. To answer your questions;
      - The first day in Rome we were just going to "roam around Rome" so we don't have any particular area that we will go. Except maybe to the Trevi at night. Love seeing it lit up.
      - The second day will be heavy on the site seeing but at night we will venture back to the Navona area to freshen up prior to dinner. I'd say the same thing for the third night.
      - In terms of "eating on the go during lunch". Probably only only the second day.
      - The first day we could roam anywhere and have a nice leisurely lunch. The third day we have a private tour of the Vatican at 2:00pm so maybe something in the Navona, Trevestare or Vatican area around 12:30pm would work.
      - In terms of the kids, they love to eat late and have a nice long drawn out dinner experience.

      1. re: AVHamilton

        There have been some major pizza threads recently. Search for Rome Pizza and they should come up.
        It sounds like you should lunch near the Vatican - St Peters or the Museum - you didnt say? There have also been threads on that - search Vatican lunch will pull them. My kids enjoyed the two places I recommend over there, but there are others.
        Orso '80 has gotten trashed on these boards in recent years (I can say it was good in 1978-9!) In the area near you my family has enjoyed Sora Margherita in the Ghetto (a little farther a way from your home base but good for lunch if you have been touring the Campidoglio, etc) Armando al Pantheon and La Campana but there are many more possibilities.
        You might want to look for recommendations in Monti or even San Lorenzo for your second stay - Trattoria Monti is not far and has delicious food but a little bit of an attitude re tourists.
        Finally, if you decide to visit Volpetti, or the Testaccio market certainly major meccas for food enthusiasts, you and your kids might enjoy the Volpetti Piu cafeteria next door - the food is very good. Its a nice walk from there over the aventine and down by the Tiber into the center again - or you can take a tram, usually a fave with kids.

        1. re: AVHamilton

          One place I think you should know about because of your hotel location is a shop for pizza bianca, right near your hotel, that who open 23 hours a day:

          Lo Zozzone
          Via del Teatro Pace, 32

          It might be just the ticket on an evening you don't want a sit down dinner.

          I'll second the recommendation for Armando al Pantheon for its good food, location and informal ambience while still being a "dinner out."

          Since your kids are already Italian late-night eaters, I think any recommended restaurant will do you, short of the white-tablecloth and crystal experiences you understandably want to avoid. Searching the Rome threads should net you lots of up-to-date pointers convenient to your hotel and plans.

          I'm not much of a gelato fan (weird, huh?) but San Crispino has a gelateria right near the Trevi fountain, and many consider their gelato the best to be had in Rome:

          http://www.ilgelatodisancrispino.it/dove

          Your kids might enjoy comparing it to Tre Scalini's gelato, right in the piazza Navona

          1. re: summerUWS2008

            I would also caution against San Crispino. Several months ago, our second experience in a one year proved their gelato has gone terribly downhill.

            Overexpansion? Poor oversight? Who cares. There are far more pleasing and pleasant choices for gelato identified on CH.

            1. re: wristband

              Just go to GIOLITTI...wonderful gelato

              1. re: sockster

                I 2nd Sockster on this.

                1. re: Sid Cundiff

                  AMEN...wonderful Gelatto!!

      2. IF you get to Trastevere, there is a little place called Frascetta- It's authentic, it's Roman, great pizza, and wonderful for kids- of all ages.

        1. I just came back from a trip with my wife and our two boys who are pre-teens. We had a fantastic vacation. We mainly ate in trattorie so that we wouldn't have to worry about the boys sitting too long. As it turned out, our kids loved dining out in Italy so much, it really wasn't a problem. In Rome, we had lunch right near the Pantheon in a very nice enoteca, beautifully decorated , known as Capranica. The service was very friendly, and the food and the wine list were fabulous. Even the music was good, we asked the maitre'd to tell us what was playing, and he took the time to look up what cd was on (It was Diana Krall). You should also consider taking a taxi (not sure if the subway goes there) to a neighborhood called Testaccio. Do a search on this board for recommendations. It is a blue collar neighborhood that is up and coming, and there are some great trattorie there. We ate at one called Il Cantinone (the big urn) which is at Piazza Testaccio, 31. The lighting in these trattorie is usually a little garish, due to cfls being used, but the food was fabulous. We had the mixed fritti, different deep fried vegetables, almost like Italian tempura. I also had a great pasta dish with oxtail (coda is the Italian word for tail.) I didn't work up the courage to try the pasta con fejata, which is calves' gut. The steak at il Cantinone was great too, as were the huge bowls of gelati they served.

          4 Replies
          1. re: petergreen

            Near your Hotel Raphael location,tasty and places your kids would enjoy without being stuffy.All but one serve lunch and dinner:

            Trattoria Pizzeria Fiammetta
            Via G. Zanardelli,31
            06-6875777
            Wood fired oven,Delicious pasta,pizza's,secondi e dolci.Warm,cozy and friendly.
            Closed Tuesday and for Wed lunch

            Il Corallo
            Via del Corallo, 10/11, 00100
            06 6830 7703‎
            Owned by two woman.Great pizza,pasta,secondi.Unique takes on fish.Fun and friendly.
            Closed Sunday,serves until 1:00 am

            Osteria de Memmo I Santori
            Via dei Soldati 22-23
            06.68135277
            From one of the former owner's of L'Orso 80(which is awful),however this place is fabulous.Great antipasti,pasta's,secondi,fresh vegetables and fish.Memmo and staff are warm and great.Closed Sunday

            Trattoria da Giggi
            Via Belsiana, 94
            00187
            06.6791130
            Off of Via Condotti.Although it draws some tourists due to location.It has delicious housemade pasta,(such as spinach ricotta ravioli)and the best spaghetti alla vongole I've had(except at my cousins in Naples) and I constantly try it everywhere in Rome.Nice staff.Closed Tuesday

            Ditirambo
            Via della Cancelleria, 74,00186
            066 871626
            Near Campo dei Fiore.Creative,adventuresome cuisine which can lend to being great at some times less at others.Warm fun atmosphere.Open daily except for Mon lunch.
            Reservations suggested.

            Hostaria Da Benito e Gilberto
            Via del Falco, 19
            Tel.+39.06.6867769
            Mobile +39.338.1527892
            Close to Prati and the Vatican.For an indulgent seafood splurge,dinner only.Family run,casual,warm and lively.Closed Sun and Mon.Reservations necessary

            San Crispino near the Fontana di Trevi,has always made my favorite gelato.However when I had some last week I did not enjoy it and wonder if it's because they have expanded to four locations.Certainly a fun challenge for your kids to find their favorite gelato.

            Hope that helps.Some have websites.So many great places to eat,so little time.If you're not familiar with Rome restaurants I suggest you go with recommendations to avoid wasting a meal on an unsatisfying tourist trap.Remember Thurs is the night for gnocchi in Rome, Eva

            1. re: casalbore spirit

              Thank you everyone for your input! I really love all the advice. All o fyour suggestions sound great.
              One last question - If we wanted to do one nice dinner, white tablecloth, non seafood oriented (we have a child with an allergy to shellfish) walking distance from Navona, what would you recommend?

              1. re: AVHamilton

                My pick would be Armando al Pantheon, right off the piazza della Rotunda. You can google the telephone number and the menu.

              2. re: casalbore spirit

                i second the vote for Trattoria Pizzeria Fiammetta - so comfortable and good food, not too expensive and near. we loved it. (went with teenager).

            2. If you go to Armando, ask for Fabiana- She will take wonderful care of you!!!

              1. My only claim to expertise with respect to your request is that I’ve been to Rome eight times since 1998, and between 2001 and 2007 (the last time I was in Rome) I stayed at the Hotel Due Torri, relatively close to the Hotel Raphael. Doubtless other Chowhounders have more expertise.

                First, forget Orso 80. Once was good; now wanting.

                Here are a list of places in the area of the Hotel Raphael where I ate reasonably well, yet aren't high end fine dining (The opening times and telephone numbers might be wrong):

                1. Da Francesco, Piazza del Fico 29, corner of Via della Fossa and Via del Corallo. Tel. 06 686 4009.

                2. Dal Cavalier Gino, Vicolo Rossini, 4, corner of Piazza del Parlamento Tel. 06 6873434

                3. Enoteca Corsi, Via del Gesù 87-88. Tel 06 679 0821. Open only Mon-Sat noon-3pm.

                4. La Campana, Vicolo della Campana 18. Tel 06 687 5273. cl MO 1230-3, 730-11.

                5. Armando al Pantheon, Salita de Crescenzi, closed SA evening and SU

                Because you’re with children, and if you just want to sit in a piazza and enjoy a splendid view while you eat, I recommend, chiefly for the view of architecture and street-life:

                6. Di Rienzo, Piazza del Pantheon 8/9, 06 68 69 097. A sublime view of the Pantheon; ask to be seated on the edge with the best view.. Go in the early evening to watch the doors of the Pantheon being closed and for it being lit up. I’ve witnessed children there delighted by the street life.

                7. Il Domiziano, Piazza Navona 88 Tel: 06 687 9647. Splendid view of the Bernini fountain of the four rivers and of Boromini’s outstanding Sant’Agnese

                The best ice cream in Rome:

                8. Giolitti, Via Ufficio del Vicario 40 MO_FR 7am-00:30 , SA 7am-02:00 cl SU. Get a cup or cone, and walk down to the Piazza del Pantheon

                My favorite in the area for coffee:

                9. Tassa d’Oro 7am-8pm CL SU. The establishment likely has something for children to drink.
                also good for coffee

                For a sit-down café in the Parisian style:

                10. Café della Pace in the Piazza della Santa Maria delle Pace, near your hotel. May not appeal to children.

                1. We're a family of four from Denver going this summer. What a coincidence. What did you find? Any recommendations? Thanks for kicking the whole conversation off.

                  1. First recommendation is to cross Orso 80 off your list. (This has been discussed at length on this board.) I'll concede Baffetto but only because it's near you -- if you're sure you want to waste a dinner on it.

                    I would consider Agata e Romeo for your last night (but, note to everybody, it's no use asking for recommendations without saying for what night of the week). Even though it's an elegant restaurant, it's small and family run, and Agata makes a wicked carbonara and matriciana as well as the more refined items on the gourmet menu. As long as the children can sit at the table and behave -- which it certainly appears they can -- I'm pretty sure they'd enjoy the food. Plus it would be a nice send-off to end your stay in Rome.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mbfant

                      I read somewhere that Agata e Romeo closed down- misinformed?