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Apr 25, 2012 03:13 PM

First Night in Rome - Help me decide where to eat!

First night in Rome - what do you think?

So I have finally convinced my husband to start traveling with me, and since our first night will be in Rome I really want to choose a restaurant that he will love. I consider myself reasonably well travelled but my husband has never been somewhere non-english speaking and I really want him to catch the travel bug.

We are both very into food, and are happy eating just about anything but I think for our first night I would prefer something in the medium price range which has good pastas and is walkable (45 mins tops) from where we are staying in Trastevere.

From reading the boards there are so many restaurants under discussion (which is great!) and so I was mulling through the following shortlist, what do you think?

La Gensola - wondering if this is a bit too fancy\pricy? But it will be a Friday(fish day!) when we arrive.
Le mani in pasta - Sounds good, close but some of the reviews are mixed?
Monti - also mixed reviews, and full of tourists? May not make the best impression.
Antico Arco - also wondering if it is too fancy\pricy?
Cecchino - love the sound of gricia, pajama and vaccinera but can you order dishes a la carte?
Da Danilo - this seems to fit the bill well, but doesn't exactly have excited feedback on the boards

Other suggestions are welcome. Appreciate your feedback! (Did I mention this was our delayed honeymoon?)

I am assuming I should call and make a reservation when we decide?

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  1. I would suggest Osteria Fernanda, Via Ettore Rolli corner with Via Portuense or Osteria di Monteverde, Via Pietro Cartoni 163. They both propose good roman options. Osteria Fernanda is a little less traditional than the other.

      1. I don't know Cristina's suggestions, but I'm inclined to go along. I'd certainly remain in Trastevere your first night. La Gensola is not remotely fancy. If you go, reserve no later than 8 as it will fill up and get hectic. Antico Arco is lovely but more upscale. Save it for when you're awake. Everybody goes to Monti, not just tourists, but it's not well located for your first night. IMO and that of my husband Danilo is overpriced and not that good. It is certainly not worth the schlepp across town for you. Between Checchino (note spelling) and Danilo, Checchino is far preferable. BTW it's pagliata or pajata (pronounced pi-yata) and coda alla vaccinara. Again, I'd certainly go there but not your first night.

        1. What time of year are you coming? Because for your first night in Rome, if you are here in the summer, then I'd steer you towards a place where you can sit outside. One sure way to get your husband into the travel bug mode is a gorgeous setting in a piazza while you sip wine and enjoy a plate of pasta, no?

          If you're considering La Gensola, then in the same price range is Pierluigi. It's located in one of the most lovely piazzas in Rome, Piazza Ricci. Their fish is superb. It's an easy walk across the bridge.

          Another option, also located outside, is Gigetto. Less expensive than Pierluigi or La Gensola. Here you can order a fried artichoke, fried zucchin blossom and a very good plate of gricia carbonara or amatriciana. Beautiful setting, but make sure you reserve a table outside, and specify that you would like to sit in the front, on Via Portico d'Ottavia (they hae another sitting area in the back.

          8 Replies
          1. re: minchilli

            Wow thanks for all the great ideas and feedback! Now we are down to Gigetto, La Gensola, Osteria Mortavedre and Fernando

            We are actually arriving next Friday (4th) at around 2pm. Coming from Vancouver we will have been flying for awhile (via Frankfurt) and so I figure we will have time for a nice long walk, an 8ish dinner and then we will be ready for bed. Not sure if it will be warm enough at night to dine al fresco?

            ohhh, what a hard choice, and yet what a good problem to have!

            1. re: daily_unadventures

              Gigetto should have tables outside. But today it's raining......but the weather has been incredibly warm.

              1. re: minchilli

                We flew from Calgary via Frankfurt and were pretty wasted when we got there with the time change and lack of sleep, my rec would be to eat close to where you are staying.

                1. re: cleopatra999

                  OP should say where in Trastevere they are staying. The area is quite large and not all these suggestions are all that close to all parts of Trastevere.

                  1. re: mbfant

                    Thanks again for your help! (Elizabeth I just bought your app!)

                    We are on via della Gensola in Trastevere so very close to the river. I have been trying to make a reservation at Gigetto but haven't been very successful (I tried here: and just tried phoning but it just rang.

                    I am guessing this is because it is Monday now, but Is there a right time to call?

                    (Of course, online would be preferable, though I have been practicing my pronunciation of "prenatazione"


                    Is it worth just going early? (say 7:55pm) Without a reservation on Friday or Saturday will we get in?

                    1. re: daily_unadventures

                      just one more thought from recent overseas travelers. I did not want something heavy when we got in that day, being messed up with the time difference and found our meal in the Jewish Ghetto to be the heaviest of all of them.

                      We went to Le mani in Pasta which was on your original list and found there to be some nice fresh light seafood on the menu, you would need a reservation it was very busy.

                      I did most of my reserving by email, if I could not email or did not get a response then I had my B&B call for me. We walked around a bit early (7;30) on a Saturday without a reservation and some places were okay, the really popular ones had no room. I probably did not need to make reservations as far in advance as I did (ie. a month or more).

                      1. re: daily_unadventures

                        I don't understand why you are debating other places when
                        a) Gensola is on your list
                        b) you can literally fall into it (and out again to bed afterwards) after your long flight
                        c) it is friday.

                        1. re: vinoroma

                          I am making reservations at La Gensola on Saturday (or trying to anyways, I emailed them). My husbands request was small, local pasta which fits quite well with something in the Jewish Ghetto that does carbonaras and amatricianas...

                          Plus, after a day of being a tourist and walking and getting all sweaty and grubby it is nice to be able to go back to your hotel, have a glass of wine and a shower and get into some nice clothes and some shoes which are inappropriate for walking. That is why I am hoping to get from La Gensola on Saturday, even if it isn't Fishy Friday.

            2. Just thought I would give a report of what I decided!

              I booked le mani in pasta because it was close and had excellent pasta.

              We started with the sea bass carpaccio with truffles, followed by fresh fettuccine with porcini, saltimbocca and asparagus.s topped off with the gorgonzola semifreddo and a bottl of adequate Pinot Nero.

              The husband was impressed, the pasta was excellent and simple, which was what I wanted in his first experience, but it was the carpaccio that blew me away. So good!

              Unlike other posters I didnt feel like the wait staff was rude but we were told we had to order the same kind of pasta, they also switched which table they sat us at when they saw us.

              3 Replies
              1. re: daily_unadventures

                Glad you got the visit off to a good start.
                Surprising that you had to eat the same pasta- that wouldn't normally be expected unless the menu says it is for two. And the table switch (how did you know?) is lame.

                How much did this meal cost, if you wouldnt mind sharing?

                1. re: jen kalb

                  We were told the same thing about the pasta, we had it with truffle. I assumed it was because of the truffles, but they shaved a (small) whole one each. So I don't know why it was for 2. It was not on the menu, but rather the specials board.

                  1. re: cleopatra999

                    The pasta was on the specials board and we were told all of the pastas were for two.. Though we were only considering the specials.

                    I knew because the tables had the names on them and as we walked in he checked a table by the door and that had my name on it, then he led us further in.

                    Total was 85 euros.