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Rome - short trip should mean a short report, right...

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Yes, except that I always have too much to say!

I'm back from a wonderful trip to Italy that included stays in Venice, Florence, Umbria (Todi), and just two very short and very packed days in Rome. We knew it was too short, but it was either travel back to Florence for our departure flight, or fly home from Rome and end the vacation knowing two days in Rome would just inspire us to return! As if we needed more inspiration... I will follow up with trip reports on the other locations.

I'll start off with noting that I travelled with two very good women friends. We've been friends for years and we all shared in the planning for this trip. I did the research on food and restaurants, but the choices were made by us as a group. By the time we got to Rome, I just gave them my notes on restaurants, and told them I would be happy with any that they chose - and I went to nap! They chose well!

Ditirambo
Reservations made for 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. We walked from our apartment rental and arrived to a bustling restaurant. Steered to a table toward the back, we had a great view of the lively tables around us. None of us speak Italian, other than a few pleasantries, and service was friendly and helpful throughout the evening. We shared the crispy potatoes with cheese fondue and truffle slivers. I enjoyed the flavours, although the presentation was not quite as I expected, with sliced potatoes layered on the plate topped with melted cheese and the truffle slivers. We each had an order of tonnarelli cacio e pepe, which was delicious. It was the first time I had this dish, and I was so looking forward to trying it. I was not at all disappointed. I ate every morsel, although with some regret later on as... I also ordered the pork fillet with smoked ham and chestnuts purèe. It was divine! The chestnut purèe was silky smooth and a perfect complement to the pork, which was two large portions of pork tenderloin wrapped in smoked ham, perfectly roasted. It was far too much food, which I could have easily shared, but my friends wanted the suckling pig roasted in salt crust, which they greatly enjoyed. Needless to say, we did not have dessert! We shared a litre of house red, had a couple bottles of water, and the bill was about 100 euro.

Perilli
I was thrilled when my friends decided on Sunday lunch at Perilli. Now, our experience here was fantastic - and we owe many thanks to the staff at Perilli for accommodating us. As noted before, we don't speak Italian, although we learned what we could and were happy (and embarrassed) to muddle our way through. Calling for reservations could sometimes be a challenge, depending on the restaurant. For Perilli's, one of my friends called on Saturday to make a reservation for Sunday. Remember, I am napping. Also, just keep in mind that it is at the end of a nearly three week trip, we were up at 5:00 a.m. to get on the road from Todi, so we could have an early arrival in Rome, and we had spent the day at the Vatican. I say all this for my complete lack of thought in what was to come. So, Sue calls Perilli's and asks for a reservation. I can hear her side of the conversation which is pretty much a repeat of I'd like a reservation? No? No reservations? Okay. Sue says they don't take reservations. I should have known better, I had done the research. My only excuse is how tired I was.

So Sunday, after spending the morning at the Colosseum and Forum, and facing the taxi battle with Italians and tourists alike, we arrive at Perilli's at 12:45 p.m. to an empty restaurant - where every table appears to have a reservation card on it. Delightful scene. Except of course, for the three women in shock at the door! Kelly takes the lead, asks if a table is available, and notes that we called yesterday and obviously we didn't understand that they were full. The staff (dressed in their fine white shirts with black ties and pants) consult and after a couple of minutes, they offer us a table in the front at the window. It's an interesting set up, there are three tables for two "attached" in a row, the three of us share a table for two, there is the table in the middle, and about 30 minutes later the third table is occupied by a couple. We felt a little worried about whether they would think these Canadians had invaded their table, but truly, we spent a leisurely couple of hours enjoying what was a traditional Sunday lunch spot for generations of Roman families. The service continued to be exceptional throughout our meal, with our waiter noting that he had been working for 52 years and he did a wonderful, welcoming pose for a photo.

The food. The carbonara. That was what we came for. It was amazing. I would have liked to have had a week or two in Rome to do a carbonara tour. With one meal, I was completely satisfied. Of course, it was a lovely (and fun!) added touch to have the carbonara served at the table from the large serving bowl! We also each had a meat dish, with this being our last meal of our trip, I admit, I neglected to jot down exactly what we had. Lamb for one, pork for two others I believe. It was fine, it just wasn't as memorable as the carbonara. With this being our last meal in Italy, we forced ourselves to have dessert - all were exceptional examples: creme caramel, pannacotta and tiramisu. We also ordered espresso, shared a litre of house wine, a couple bottles of water, and the total was about 120 euro. Also, a final note about the couple who "shared" our set of three tables - they were a lovely older couple who come to Perilli's quite often, for the carbonara. We happily talked throughout the meal, despite our language barrier. Perilli's was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, for the fantastic combination of delicious carbonara, friendly and entertaining service, and obviously traditional family destination. We felt like we shared in a little bit of Rome that day.

Finally, on Sunday night we walked to Campo di'Fiori and ordered paninis from AristoCampi which we then ate outside. Neat spot, very busy, great to people watch, and just what we needed after a big Sunday lunch!

Many thanks to all who share their experiences, the travellers with their trip reports and in particular, the contributors from Rome who respond to countless requests for the seemingly same questions. Your advice and input is very much appreciated.
Terri

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Perilli
Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

Ditirambo
Piazza della Cancelleria, 73, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

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  1. What a pleasure to read such a lengthy, happy report of Roman hospitality!

    I hope you will contribute more about your experiences in Umbria, Florence and Venice.

    1. A lovely and helpful report - glad you enjoyed your visit and looking forward to hearing about the rest.

      1. Thanks so much for getting back. Looking forward to hearing more about the rest of your trip.

        We just finished Sunday lunch at Perilli, and thought you'd enjoy this photo. If it doesn't make you weep with nostalgia for the BEST carbonara in the world.

        www.elizabethminchilli.com

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        Perilli
        Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

         
        6 Replies
        1. re: minchilli

          Sigh. Thanks for sharing the photo, I'm weeping indeed!

          As a follow up, one of my friends read the post and noted that she did not have the pannacotta at Perilli's, but the zabaglione, which was "like eating a cloud".

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          Perilli
          Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

          1. re: Silverwing

            We're back home in NYC for 2 weeks now and I'm missing Perilli's pastas already. Does anyone even attempt to make pajata in NYC... I've been looking but cant find it (Jen... I know you read this board... any clue on this?). And the carbonara just aint the same either. Oh well, time to plan the next trip.

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            Perilli
            Via Marmorata 39, Rome , IT

            1. re: Steve R

              I havent seen any - but then I havent been looking for it either.
              see attached tho for year-old info.
              http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/din...

              1. re: jen kalb

                Testaccio's menu does not list any pajata, but offers coda alla vaccinara, abbacchio scottaditto, etc. My guess would be that state laws might prohibit use of a product that would have a hard time finding a large enough audience worth fighting over. Then again, who knows if some indie/artisan/hipster butcher might do this without telling anyone.

                1. re: bob96

                  Jen - thanks for the link. I'm going to do some sleuthing.

                  Bob96 - especially given the nature of the dish, I was thinking the same but hoping to find it anyway. We'll see.

                  1. re: Steve R

                    Buona caccia!

        2. Many thanks for your gracious and informative report. Cheers!