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Rome - 4 casual dinners - thoughts on my list please!

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I am going to Rome for the first time with my husband 6-10 October and so am planning our evening meals for Wednesday to Saturday nights inclusive. We are staying near the Spanish Steps, and ideally want to walk to dinner (up to 20-30 minutes away), but given we are in town for 4 nights we don't mind going further away for one or two nights. We prefer casual places, with good food and a nice relaxed ambiance. We particularly want to AVOID places where there is a focus on style over substance, and where the clientele, food and decor have too much bling!

I have spent time reading previous posts on these boards - which have been really helpful, so thank you all for your comments - and have picked out a few places that seem to meet my criteria. We're not looking for a series of blow-out meals, but I want to do a little research so that we aren't disappointed. I am a little concerned that they may be a little "samey" so I'd appreciate your thoughts please! Many thanks!

La Campana
Colline Emiliane
Almando al Pantheon
Grano
Babette
Le Mani in Pasta (worth going over to Travestere for?)
Antico Arco (for a slightly smarter night out - worth the trip for the food and ambiance?)
Cul-de-Sac
Casa Bleve

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  1. La Campana and Colline Emiliane are both wonderful...and not at all the same. La Campana is traditional Roman fare while Coline Emiliane is food from the Emila Romana region of Italy. Both places have top-notch food and very good service. I suggest you make reservations if you do go to either of these palces.

    As for Casa Bleve, we were there in December 2009 for the famous lunch buffet and it was amazing. Sadly, they have stopped serving the buffet, but I hear they serve many of the buffet offerings a la carte on their lunch menu now. We have not been there for dinner, but I hear it is just as good. Casa Bleve has one of the best vibes and ambience of any restaurant I have been to in Rome. I highly recommend it. Buon appetito!

    1. Antico Arco is certainly worth the trip. The food is excellent and the service is very nice, though they get slammed at 9pm and the kitchen gets very backed up, so go early or late to avoid long waits between courses.

      Le Mani in Pasta is great, definitely worth the trip. Aside from that, I second everything ttoommyy has written!

      1 Reply
      1. re: katieparla

        Thank you both so much, Katie and Ttoommyy. This is very useful indeed - and it looks as if I have the 4 dinners all sorted now! We really appreciate your help and are so looking forward to our trip now. I'll be sure to update this thread on our return.

      2. La Campana will fill the bill but I would not say that in absolute the food is great. It is good, traditional Roman fare. Grano is very nice, a more modern trattoria in a lovely setting. Definitely recommend it. Antico Arco is excellent. Go early. My husband and I were totally underwhelmed by Le Mani in Pasta the one time friends dragged us there. The one friend I know who goes to Babette is the most peculiar eater I know, but she just goes for the lunch buffet. It's supposed to be good, but probably not a must on your first trip. Armando is nice but not a must. I find Cul de Sac too uncomfortable, more emphasis on wine than food. haven't tried Casa Bleve since they changed the menu. Skip it. Colline Emiliane is very good, a bit uncomfortable, and not Roman, so skip it. You might look into Palatium. Modern setting very near Piazza di Spagna with very good regional food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mbfant

          Thank you, Maureent, this is all extremely useful too. Planning this trip is proving to be almost as enjoyable and interesting as actually going on it! I need to get booking now, and will update this thread when we get back to Edinburgh.

        2. I have a little suggetsion too, it's not too close to where u are, but it might we worth a little trip, maybe if u like to see St. Peter's square at night (a sight I recommend), u could take a walk on Via Cola Di Rienzo y get at Zi Gaetana. the place is nice, been there few times (last time like one year ago), cool atmosphere (on weekdays u wont need to reserve if u dont get there late, and I suggest u get there around 8 or not much later, which is early for our Italian standards for dinner time). It carries a good mix of traditional food blended with delicate creative cuisine. Do not hesitate to try something that sounds weird, be open, and look for a new taste. U won't be disappointed. Not cheap but not that expensive either I guess. U can look it up on internet and see if it appeals to u.
          I will think of more places but this is the first one that came into my mind...

          1. We had the buffet lunch at Babette a week ago Sunday and enjoyed it very much. They have a lovely courtyard and the food was good. It wasn't great, but it was good. The price of 25 euros per person included wine, water, coffee and dessert.