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Apr 28, 2010 02:32 PM

Rome Dining Recommendations - Going next week

Just stumbled across this board and boy am I glad I did, what a wealth of information. However; I have read so much conflicting advice on the various restaurants it has confused me further, I guess you would say I am on information overload. Being Italian and raised on made from scratch home cooked Italian food has spoiled my palette. While in Rome I am not looking for anything fancy or expensive although price is not a factor, I am most interested in charming trattoria's that have quality ingredients from scratch. I have been to Rome a few times so this time I am not doing anything touristy just want to take some nice strolls and really take in the city. I always go to the market at Campo Dei Fiori but it seems like I should try out the market in Testaccio, can anyone enlighten me as what the difference are of the two markets? Also I was thinking of the following restaurants based on the board recommendations - Checchino Del 1887, Cavour 313, Trattoria Felice and pizza at Roscioli (I love the real thin crust). I only have two days in Rome which is next Friday and Saturday. I appreciate any information and recommendations. Oh yea and of coarse your favorite Gelateria. It seems most of the board is partial to Giolitti. Mahalo

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  1. In order give some order to what you have to read, I would suggest looking at the posts by MB Fant and Jen Kalb when you are trying to figure out how to organize all of the information. They both have excellent knowledge of Roman dining, and they stay current. They both stand out in this sea of information.

    1. I don't think you can go wrong with Checchino, and Felice has many admirers (and some detractors). But Cavour 313 is a wine bar, and Roscioli is a forno, not a pizzeria; it makes pizza by the slice and not thin-crust pizza.

      1. Checchino might just be the best trattoria experience you are looking for. Cavour 313 is an enoteca and nice, but you won't get great food. Felice has its lovers and haters, it sure is not bad, but I don't love it either. Many oldtimers say it has changed in the last years, which I couldn't say because I only have been going for 2 years now. I think if you go to Checchino, you don't need Felice. At Roscioli bakery you will get pizza al taglio, and though it *is* thin (sorry Zerlina!) as opposed to many other pizza al taglio places, if you are really after a good Roman pizza, go to Remo in Testaccio. The difference between the 2 markets is day and night: At Campo you'll *mostly* find overpriced and touristy stuff (though I admit to buying there sometimes because of the convenience) beautiful photo-ops and little choice, at Testaccio you have a full grown market with great produce and great prices. And my favorite gelateria is Gracchi on via Gracchi (Prati), I think Giolitti makes a hideous gelato (please don't kill me, Giolitti lovers!)

        12 Replies
        1. re: vinoroma

          Your input is greatly appreciated. I will go to Checchino then on Friday evening, do you know if reservations are recommended? I am staying at the Rome Cavalieri and having stayed there many times I take their shuttle to Piazza Barberini and then either walk or cab to wherever I am going. I wanted to try the metro this time, would you recommend I take the metro or cab to Testaccio? I definitely want to go to the Testaccio market on Saturday morning and then walk around Testaccio hopefully pick up some items at the market for lunch or dine at a restaurant in Testaccio then walk over to Testevere or possible have lunch in Testevere. Do you have a recommendation for dinner on Saturday evening? I usually like to stroll around all day go back to the hotel rest and then come back into town for dinner around 7:00 pm (early in Rome) and then have an evening stroll have some coffee and gelato. I have got to try your gelato recommendation I have never been to Prati I will have to look up on a map to see where it is. Oh yea one more question I want to confirm that at Remo they serve the pizza in the evening like most places? Mahalo

          1. re: sunniew

            Reservation at Checchino for friday dinner would be good. No need for a cab for testaccio, from Barberini you can metro to Piramide and stroll over Testaccio. Trastevere (sp!) is not the best place for eating, but there are some places, a search here will bring you some ideas. But you could definitely picnic - there is the botanical gardens in Trastevere or also you can walk up to giannicolo and picnic there. Yes, Remo does pizza in the evenings and they open at 7, so while that is early, you could already get your pizza - why don't you go there on sat evening? Prati area is on the same side as Cavalieri and is a nice area to stroll in the evening, very Roman.

            1. re: vinoroma

              Don't take the metro to Checchino. It's not that close to Piramide and not that nice a walk, esp if you've never been before. And from Barberini they would have to change at Termini -- yuck. I would recommend a taxi. Buses would be OK -- see

              1. re: vinoroma

                I dont know why OP would want to go back to Testaccio for the second evening's Pizza. Maybe pizza recommendations in Prati or Trastevere would work better. Or a dining recommendation in one of those neighborhoods (like Antico Arco perhaps?), following strolling and eating pizza al taglio/biance. Im hesitant to recommend places I havent myself tried however. I think the walk over the Janiculum is wonderful.
                btw the best meal we had in rome last fall was at Trattoria Monti, notwithstanding that I was really po'd about the service we received and there have been other recent complaints. I would still recommend it to someone who is "cooler" than we are, but its hardly the only other interesting place around if the OP needs more recommendations.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Aloha Jen,
                  Thanks for your reply, I really appreciate you taking time for your input. I am set for dining on Friday night but your right I don't want to go back to Testaccio Sat. night since I will have been there on Friday night for dinner and Sat. morning at the market. Is it worth even going to Trastevere to walk around during the day to check out the neighborhood? I have never been. Maybe I should stick with strolling around Piazza Navona and Pantheon on Saturday after Testaccio. I actually thought about Trattoria Monti, Armando and Antico Arco but I have read many mixed reviews on this board. It seems I am having a difficult time finding a trattoria for Saturday night. I really don't care where it is since I can take a taxi anywhere. I found a list of mbfant trattoria recommendations but I believe it is outdated. I am stumped here, any suggestions. I prefer to go to places that don't have many american tourists just good old fashioned Italian cooking with the fresh homemade ingredients. I tend to stay away from the restaurants written up in guide books & US travel magazines because although they may be good they often are just filled with tourists (like me - although I like to blend in with the locals).

                  1. re: sunniew

                    I suggested sat dinner in testaccio bcs. you asked about remo and you mentioned being there in the morning, too; so it just added up for me. You can stay in Trastevere and have pizza at Ivo (I thought you want pizza, wrong?). Or look for other trattorias of course, if you prefer that. I (mis?) understood you as wanting a trattoria experience with Checchino and then a pizza the next dinner..... If looking for a trattoria, and taxi no problem, Danilo or Colline Emiliane are also good places. And, as Maureen said, and in the light of taxis being ok with you, I'd also say ditch my metro suggestion and grab a cab for Checchino. It is not far and I like the area for strolling, but you might prefer the taxi. If you want pizza in Prati, go to Giacomelli, guaranteed no tourists (out of the way) and very good thin crust pizza. Antico Arco is very different than your other considerations. If you want something like that, than you could also try Giuda Ballerino on sat eve (reservation!)(I mean the restaurant part, not the osteria, though that is good, too). You can take the metro (line A direct to the door) or a cab.

                    1. re: vinoroma

                      Thanks again for taking your time to help me out. I did request pizza but not a priority I think I would prefer dining in a restaurant at night instead of a pizzeria at least I have my options and will leave it up to my hubby on what he feels like having. I like to be somewhat spontaneous anyways. By the way you did not misunderstand me you were right on I was the one confused. I have been on information overload trying to figure out what was best. I will be in Rome this time next week and can hardly wait. Thank you once again. All I need now is wonderful weather and I couldn't ask for anything more perfect. Warm Aloha

                      1. re: vinoroma

                        Aloha Vinorama, This is a sort of non food question. I believe you live in Italy so I thought you might be able to answer this question. My family that lives in Europe has always told me not to leave a tip like in the US (15% - 20%). They said we should just leave what ever change is leftover ie. the bill is 72 euro so round it up and leave 80 euro. I was in Lake Como in September and every time we asked the server if gratuity/service is included they say no and seem to expect a % of the bill. I don't know if they do this because we are from the US and they know what our custom is or if they are being honest. Do you have any comment or suggestion on this matter. Thanks so much.

                        1. re: sunniew

                          Hi sunniew, I am not the only one around here who lives in Italy (I am in Rome), but I'll start, and others will definitely follow.
                          The issue of tip is cause to big discussions here and though in the end everyone should act as he/she feels comfortable, traditionally tip is really not like it is in the US. On a 72 euro bill, depending on what kind of place, one could even just leave 75 (though 80 is ok, too, but definitely not more than that!).
                          Your experience in Como shows a common trait of human beings: Who would say no to more money?
                          As a general idea, waiters in Italy get decent (at the country standard) wage, paid vacation time, health insurance, etc...., not like in the US where tip is everything they get. So there is no need to tip, some Italians even tell me tipping is insulting, though I don't think like that.
                          So, in short: leaving your change as tip is perfectly fine!

                          1. re: vinoroma

                            Thanks so much. I really appreciate your input. We go to Europe so often and I respect hard working people and like to take care of them. On the other hand there has been many times when they don't deserve anything extra so its nice to know we shouldn't feel compelled. Thanks again. I hope I bring some sunshine on Thursday it looks like a lot of rain. ugh! Warm Aloha

                      2. re: sunniew

                        As much as I like the center of rome, I was totally put off by the number or tourists around Piazza Navona and cramming the Pantheon area and Campo fiori too, during the afternoon and evening on our last visit. I think those areas are nicer in the morning. Getting a walk book and exploring the Old Rome neighborhoods north /west of there nearer to the river can still be be nice. trastevere too is really like a village with a good market, some good food shops and some wonderful old churches - I think its nicer earlier in the day - the part near the river is picturesque but horribly impacted (like say the Village in NY) with young tourists/locals at mealtimes and in the evening. If you havent walked around there, you should do so, we can give you recommendations for snacks, sights and meals, and like I said, the Janiculum is wonderful, not so much for eating (tho Antico Arco is nearby) but for the views, the churches , the Roman scene and the walk.

                        Im going to throw out some other names for the Chowhounds to react to, in the general area of Prati - which like we said would be a good evening stroll, has a good gelato place recommended by mbfant etc. - these are all in the Downie Book, some as traditional "terroir" restaurants, some not: Da Cesare (recommended here just the other day) L'Arcangelo, Il Matriciano,
                        Asinocotto (has some Lombard dishes on meno), Monzu Vladi (Campanian), Settembrini

                        I think you shouldnt get too discouraged by mixed reviews on foreign travel destinations esp on the travel websites - the question is really the food, because lots of people (even me) seem to have service issues from time to time or get paranoid they are not getting "the real thing" - and sometimes they arent.. Screwups can happen everywhere.
                        Have a great trip - I look forward to hearing.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Thanks again to all the people who responded on the board. I appreciate all your input and will definitely give you my report upon my return. I think I got it all down now. Warm Aloha to all of you. If you ever come to Hawaii I will be sure to tell you all the good food in Hawaii and the place not to miss

              2. I know you are on information overload sunniew, but check out Katie Parla's blog. It really helped me a lot on my last visit to Rome.


                PS--I highly recommend Checchino Del 1887!

                3 Replies
                1. re: ttoommyy

                  i'm so glad ttoommyy! thanks for the shout out!

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I second the Katie Parla comment. Do you have a fan club started?

                2. I stayed at the Aventino hill and in Trastevere last year at this time in May and it was a real fine experience. Trastevere is an amazing place to stroll both early in the day and in the evenings. There are several very special churches there as well as many streets with a lot of character. A lot of small cafe bars are around where you can sit down and have a rest after much walking. It can be a lot of people there around the Piazza Santa Maria area on Saturdays, but if you walk a bit away from there it will be fine. There are most tourist in the area west of Viale Di Trastevere, and more peace in the area east of that street.

                  A suggestion is to go early to Testaccio and have a look at the morning market at Saturday, and then have a lunch at f.ex. Ne Arte Del Parte right beside Volpetti. From there you can walk across the Ponte Sublicio into Trastevere. There you can have a look at the amazing church San Francesco a Ripa. The church Santa Cecilia in Trastevere is also beautiful. From the San Francesco a Ripa church you can just walk the Via di San Francisco a Ripa straight ahead and then you get to the Piazza Santa Maria in the middle of Trastevere. Have a al fresco refreshment and look at the people.

                  Asinocotto in Trastevere is more kind of A la carte restaurant with good food and service. I liked it. Right beside you have Le Mani In Pasta which is a Trattoria with more traditional dishes. We got good value there too. Have not tried Spirito Di Vino right beside Le Mani In Pasta, but it looked like they have very tempting menu. Another place in Trastevere we liked was La Scala, more close to Piazza Santa Maria, but this can be very full on Saturdays. You might want to book your restaurant for the evening to be sure to have a table.

                  I am not a dessert person but for Gelaterias I've read somewhere that you should look for the places where the banana ice cream is gray and not yellow. That means they are using natural flavours. The gelato should also be stored in metal containers instead of plastic containers, that signifies that it is freshly made the traditional way.

                  We planned to go to Checchino, but did not get time for that on the last trip. This is high on the list for the next time we go there in June this year. We were looking at Felice last time, but went to Tutti Frutti right beside instead, and that was a very good choice. Great food and service. Have a wonderful trip!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jostber

                    Aloha Jostber,
                    Thanks for your post. I appreciate the information. Especially thanks on the gelato tip I will definitely have to look at that. Looking forward to seeing a different part of Rome. We always spend so much time in ancient Rome and the typical high tourist spots. I make sure to post my findings upon my return. Warm Aloha,