Rome report - Gina, Roscoli, L'Asino d'Oro, La Gensola and Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi
Just a quick report back on the couple of meals I had in Rome. Please excuse any spelling mistakes, I'm just too lazy to look it up. I ate very very well, was treated wonderfully by wait staff and barely saw another tourist at any of our meals. I do need to qualify that I speak Italian.
Gina: for those who aren't familiar with it, a tiny restaurant with a modern "ladies who lunch" vibe nestled next to the Spanish steps. (On the 2nd street to the left if you are facing them). They will also make picnic baskets to take to the park. I was by myself and had a delicious salad of roast beef, tomatoes and arugula. A perfect stop when you want something light and it is an off hour and you are in that location.
Roscoli: I had truly wonderful experience her for lunch by myself. Lovely waiter, incredible bread basket (6 types of bread), burrata with pomodori, crudo of shrimp, and two different glasses of white wine. It was expensive (the shrimp) but worth it. I highly recommend it. I was surrounded by Italians except for one group of Japanese women in the other room. I received a "starter" of fresh cheese and a desert of cookies with melted chocolate "on the house".
Roscoli forno: around the corner. Stopped in twice when we were in the neighborhood for snack. Once for a porchetta sandwich - divine on their focaccia not too salty and various breads.
L'Asino d"Oro - All I can say is RUN don't walk to the 12 Euro lunch deal at this restaurant. For 12 Euros a person you get: a bottle of water (each), a glass of wine each(red or white), an amuse bouche, a starter, pasta, and main. Deserts are extra and worth it!! There is NO CHOICE on the menu but the food is prepared so well. Even if you hated one of the courses it would be wort it.
We had: amuse of cheese of crostini with lemon oil. starter of soup with beans and greens, pasta arrabiata with fish in the sauce - fantastic -, and a main of braised octopus and a broccoli but not the normal type (the kind that is "pointy") which was sublime. Dessert was a sage and lemon infused tart (not the right word) with dark chocolate - exceptional. It was recommended to us by the couple at the next table who were regulars. I reserved by email. Everybody in the restaurant was Italian. Very modern in feel. If you are looking for "grandma" she is not here unless she is a sophisticated Roman "nonna" eating out with her friends. Perfect place to end up after a morning spent at the forum.
La Gensola - We had a truly marvelous time at this restaurant for dinner. Restaurant had an "old fashioned feel" with windows open and ceiling fans blowing. Clientele were mid-thirties and up, well dressed and in sizes from couples to groups of 6.
Friday night reservation 9:45 (we had been to the evening hours at the Vatican museum first) - restaurant was packed. We were seated in the first dining room next to 4 tables of regulars. Two of tables became "our friends" during the meal. On older gentleman "Il dottore", took us under his wing and gave us advice on what to order as well as let me place my purse on the extra chair at his table. The younger couple next to us who were one course ahead explained what they were eating, who to order the wine from, etc. Staff was BUSY but very friendly. The meal was delicious but do not expect white glove service/atmosphere. Even their regulars waited a loooooong time for the check and were joking about it.
What we ate: fried baby octopus, tuna meatballs in tomatoes, spaghetti al vongole, a pasta with squid, and a piece of chocolate cake with whipped cream. Everything was incredibly delicious. My only sadness was that we weren't a group of 4 people to order more items. I was dying to try a main fish but I was so stuffed I couldn't eat one more morsel. Our pastas were perfectly cooked and we couldn't help but remark that they tasted so incredibly different (as they should).
They called us a taxi as our hotel was on the opposite side of town and we didn't finish dinner until after midnight.
Beppe: charming cheese and wine shop located right at the entrance to the ghetto. We were starving, it was a weird hour and the only open places did not look good. Again lovely modern setting with fabulous wines by the glass. My boy friend had several glasses of a fantastic Barbaresco and I stayed to the whites as it was still so hot. A phenomenal cheese plate (all being perfectly ripe and some very interesting selections) and a large salad and we were full. this again was expensive but a really nice way to eat.
Please feel free to ask any questions.
We had a great time.
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT
Via del Boschetto 73, Rome, Lazio 00184, IT
Thanks so much for your great report! I'm glad that you stopped by Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi. They started off only selling cheeses, but have now started serving a limited - but excellent - menu. And you're right, it's the best place to have something light at 'off' hours.
I'm also glad you stumbled on Gina's. It's definitely a ladies who lunch kinda place. But since that is shopping central, it's exactly the type of place you need in that area. And the food is very good, and not so expensive.
Again, thanks for the detailed report!
I can't take credit for stumbling upon Gina. A friend of mine who rents an apartment in Rome every year told me about it.
Beppe, was truly one of those moments where we were just desperately searching for something decent and walked by it.
The other places I need to thank the group of "Rome regulars" who post here on the board. Otherwise I would have never found them.
I do think it needs to be pointed out that Rome is a big city that despite its antiquities can be quite modern. It seems to me that so many people are looking for some type of "traditional experience" that doesn't exist - or at least not quite the way people imagine it.
I think if you really want to eat well there may need to be some concessions on the part of tourists that either the atmosphere or the food will not match their fantasy. Just my take on the situation after doing research and walking around various neighborhoods for a long weekend.