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Aug 8, 2010 06:14 AM

Going to Rome in September

Trying to narrow down my restaurant list for early sept in Rome. I need for places for dinner, 3 for lunch of which one should probably be pizza. I came up with my list based on a few sources such as this board, frank bruni's guide to Rome, nyt articles and luxe guide. Please also specify which restaurants are good for lunch vs dinner. Thanks.

Monti (bruni loves this one)
Il bacaro
Nino (not sure about this one)
Trattoria San teodoro (for al fresco)
Antico arco
Cul de sac
Casa bleve (another bruni favorite I believe for antipasti at lunch)

Of course I will be happy to consider alternatives not on this list. Thanks in advance.


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  1. Do you live in NYC or close enough to it to have a lot of experience with Frank Bruni's recommendations and know your tastebuds to be in sync with his?

    You might want to peruse David Downie's "Food Wine Rome" as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: barberinibee

      Thanks. I do live in NYC and trust bruni to a large extent. Will check out David downie as well.

    2. If you want pizza, none on your list above meet that criteria. Bleve no longer offers the lunch buffet to my knowledge.

      Why not do a search of this Board as to pizza joints and others on your list that might be of interest?

      Maureen will surely offer choice comments on Bruni. He left the Rome bureau years ago so the old NYT recs must be read w/ a jaundiced eye. Like his inane rave on Monti.

      16 Replies
      1. re: wristband

        I agree his rave on Monti, written on a trip to Rome when he was no longer stationed here, was inane. What was worse was that he had never heard of it all the time he was bureau chief. In fact, the Times recs for Italy of that era were mostly written by me, not by him, at least those in the travel section. Monti is mostly good, but not always. The wine is good, the family is lovely; the atmosphere is probably what people seeking authenticity are looking for, but I find it claustrophobic. We take visitors there when we need a change from our two nearer trattorias but want to keep the spending down.

        Cul de Sac is another I find claustrophobic, even though I always used to like it. haven't been in years. My last meal at Felice was excellent. Why Nino has gotten onto all these lists is beyond me. It is always full.

        1. re: mbfant

          Thanks maureen for the helpful feedback. So if you were to pick a few places for a 4 day visit to Rome which ones would you pick? Look forward to your toughest.

          1. re: reyal

            Four days = eight meals? First of all, I wouldn’t go to two restaurants a day. Unless you have remarkable will power, it's too much food and too many hours sitting at the table.

            If you want to spend your evenings having dinner, I'd have lunch at the better pizza al taglio places or bars or high-end tavola caldas or the newer places that understand about light lunch. For example, in anticipation of a normal dinner, an antipasto from Palatium's menu is plenty for lunch. Or a slice or two at Pizzarium or a pizza bianca sandwich at Antico Forno on Campo de’ Fiori. I also like the buffet at Open Colonna.

            If you prefer to have your main meal at lunchtime, plan on a wine bar, pizza (the sit-down kind), or gelato in the evening. These other eateries represent a side of Roman gastronomy you miss by getting hung up on restaurants.

            As far as I know, all the places on your list offer full meals. Casa Bleve has recently changed its menu, so I'm not sure where its head is at at the moment, but otherwise, they are equally good for lunch and dinner, depending on when you want to eat your main meal.

            Much as I love Roman food, I would say there are no no-miss places. There are many places of a good medium-high level and a handful of really good ones. There are also some excellent places out of town. So where would I go? I'll tell you the places we take visitors. Near home we have La Piazzetta and Nerone and Monti and, for special occasions, Agata e Romeo (which I would put on your list). We used to go to Paris, in Trastevere, quite a lot for the Jewish repertoire plus other Roman specialties and good fish, but it's been a little disappointing lately, which I hope is a temporary slump. Otherwise, Piperno in the ghetto. Grano, near the Pantheon, is a spiffy trattoria and always open and good. Checchino dal 1887 is historic and genuine and after eating his way through the menu umpteen times, my Roman husband still wanted to go there for his birthday last year. For our anniversary, we went to Il Pagliaccio, which was amazing, but is not what I would recommend for visitors seeking the real Rome. We also like Al Ceppo, when we're feeling bourgeois (seriously, it's quite good), and Antico Arco and Tuna and Felice. We also love Il Convivio and Antonello Colonna.

            I think Bruni's list is bizarre, but I haven't been to Santopadre (his description makes it a place I would avoid; I know that hit-you-with-tons-of-salumi scene and don't want it). We went once to Fori Imperiali, which I thought was OK but my husband thought was a total waste of time. We gave up on Perilli and San Teodoro years ago.

            1. re: mbfant


              Can you recommend some "high-end tavola caldas" in Rome.

              I've enjoyed eating at the buffet at Margutta -- which they term a brunch, even though it is served at the normal lunch hour. Have you tried their buffet/brunch?

              1. re: barberinibee

                I didn’t think much of the Margutta buffet when I tried it some years ago.

                The tavola caldas I'd go for are Franchi, on via Cola di Rienzo, Volpetti Più, around the corner from the shop, and RosticceRì, on Piazza Testaccio and Corso Rinascimento (owned by owner of La Rosetta). There are others I'm sure people will think of and post.

                1. re: mbfant

                  Thanks. I know there is another buffet on via Margutta at Babette. Do you have any opinion about it?

                  I am going to re-post your tavole calda recommendations in another ongoing thread to maximize chances they turn up if somebody is searching for them. I think I'm not the only person on the lookout for life-saving alternatives to 2-restaurants-a-day when traveling in Italy, but sources of information about good tavole calde can be nil.

                  If you have any other suggestions to add in that thread about where to eat something less than a full restaurant meal that isn't the often-recommended pizzerie, I know I'd appreciate it.

        2. re: wristband

          "Bleve no longer offers the lunch buffet to my knowledge. "

          WHAT??????? Please, someone say it isn't so!

          1. re: ttoommyy

            This isnt the first time this has been reported. After other tourist reports of people taking food out of there to eat later in the day I can well believe that they stopped offering.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I guess I'm not in the loop. So was one of the most beautiful and delicious meals I've ever had in Rome.

              1. re: jen kalb


                This is disturbing news. Deb and I enjoyed quality time at Casa Bleve earlier this year. What will they replace the buffet with?

                I'm not sure I buy into "people taking food out of there to eat later" since diners discussed selections with the station chef who stood behind the gorgeous, glass-fronted cold case that displayed the food. It was the station chef who assembled your plate. The plate was later delivered to your table by a waiter. Diners never have a chance to touch the food beforehand.

                Having said that, I look forward to hearing how Casa Bleve has decided to evolve. I'm pretty sure vinoroma and mbfant will get back to us after August holiday.

                1. re: steve h.

                  "I'm not sure I buy into "people taking food out of there to eat later" "...Exactly correct. My understanding is that patrons didn't have the opportunity to return for a second plate, so I fail to see the difference between taking home leftovers from that arrangement and taking home leftovers from an a "menu" restaurant. The level of snobbery and judgementalism on this particular board is sometimes hard to take.

                  1. re: NCHound

                    My guess is that Casa Bleve saw an opportunity to move even further north on the food chain.

                    The room is gorgeous, service very good. Clientele, for the most part, is local and well-dressed during the week. The high-end bureaucrats I see there will easily adapt.

                  2. re: steve h.

                    I only repeat what I saw posted here earlier.

                    I I have also seen a report of obtaining seconds, etc..which could facilitate obtaining food to take away

                    the real issue is what the normal expectation and economics of offering a buffet are. If a fair number of people show up and consume more than the expected amount than the prices may not work. and the concept may no longer be workable.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      There are/were no seconds to the best of my knowledge. It was not a standup buffet in the traditional sense.
                      My take is that management saw a business opportunity.
                      I'll report back Q1, 2011.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Whatever, the thread linked above has a poster report from May of receiving seconds etc. Whatever the reason for the format change, Im looking forward to new reports.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          They paid for it.
                          Casa Bleve was pretty special. I suspect it will continue to be.
                          Having said that, Trimani Wine Bar trumps Cul de Sac for a late lunch, in my opinion.

            2. Antico Arco is lovely (fine dining with modernized Roman dishes and a few touches). Casa Bleve doesn't offer the lunch buffet anymore. Real pizza can't be had at lunch (only pizza al taglio), only dinner. There have been many discussions about pizza, a quick search will give you names and opinions.

              7 Replies
              1. re: vinoroma

                Thanks everyone for your feedback. Below is what I am thinking for our food itinerary. Still need some specific feedback here and there to finalize. Thanks again.

                Day 1 -
                Dinner - Monti

                Day 2 -
                Lunch - pizza at Pizzarium or pizza bianca at Antico Forno
                Dinner - Antico Arco

                Day 3 -
                Lunch - Felice - I know it might be too heavy considering I plan on a big dinner but I just don't have enough nights and feel like I must include it
                Dinner - Santa Lucia - this feels like a gamble but I want to do one al fresco. let me know if this is a big mistake.

                Day 4 -
                Lunch - still open, maybe whatever I don't do on Day 2
                Dinner - debating between Checchino dal 1887, Nino or Remo for Pizza. I do have pizza for lunch but am I missing something by not doing a real sit-down pizza place? If the vote is for pizza here, then two questions: (1) is Remo the right choice and (2) would you replace any of the other dinners with Checchio?

                Look forward for your feedback. Thanks

                1. re: reyal

                  sit down roman pizza is different than pizza by the slice, so if you like pizza, you should do it. And Remo is the place. But I would want to include Checchino as well, bcs it is one of the best traditional Roman trattorie. I personally would kick out Santa Lucia, though I do understand the appeal, it IS lovely to sit outside in that square.

                  1. re: vinoroma

                    Totally agree. Grano is good for al fresco. Never been to Santa Lucia but have heard mixed things.

                    1. re: mbfant

                      Would Checchino work for lunch?

                      1. re: reyal

                        Lunch is the same as dinner. If you want a full meal, it's fine. It's hearty food, not for birdlike picking.

                        1. re: mbfant

                          Thanks mbfant, vinoroma and others for your helpful feedback. I think I have enough information at this point. I will report back.

                          1. re: reyal

                            looking forward to hearing about your experience.

              2. This is a very helpful thread, as I'll be in Rome for 6 days in January 2011. I can look up all the recs, but if someone can tell me which are within a 20 minute walk of Piazza Navona, that would be great. Our hotel is just off the plaza there. Thanks!

                1. The original comment has been removed