Better Rome location - Celio or Testaccio?
Trying to make a final decision on where to rent in Rome for an upcoming visit. I have a husband who tends not to like to go out at night for dinner or stay out late, so it has to be easy to get him out of the house - Celio has the upperhand for other reasons so Im wondering - are there actually worthwhile places to eat out in that area? Weve been to Luzzi, Naumachia - they dont stack up. We liked Pizzeria Forum but I doubt any chowhounds in the area much agree... Nerone is close ...what else is reasonably close and worth a visit? Il Bocconcino? Alchemilla? Quaranta? or will we have to get on a bus/tram or walk over to Monti?
Our rental in Testaccio would be all the way down by the lungotevere. Are there any worthwhile choices in that immediate area or across the river in Portuense/trastevere? La Fucina?
Jen, I live in Celio and spend half my life in Testaccio. I would definitely choose Celio, which is better connected to the rest of the city and is inherently more interesting, possibly your "other reasons." The food situation here is not fabulous, however. Nerone remains our standby. Someday we will try Caffè Propaganda. Franco and I met at Taverna dei Quaranta long ago (when our only mutual friend mistakenly made two dinner dates the same evening). It was always a reliable place with a varied menu run by what I always thought of as old hippies. Haven't been in a while, and they've expanded, but it's probably fine for a neighborhood fallback. I used to always find it helpful when I had to meet visiting friends for lunch and didn't want to leave the neighborhood. The setting is pleasant. We have tried Bocconcino twice and didn't care for it, but we're a minority. Papa Giò, fish, has fans among our friends (we remain unimpressed), and I always liked Crab, but we haven't been in eons. Naumachia has the advantage of being cheap. I have never eaten there, but Franco went once with some young engineers and said it was surprisingly OK. Gave up on Luzzi years ago. We used to go to Pizza Forum too but it's now something else. Never go to any of those places on Via S. Giovanni, though Isidoro remains popular. Li Rioni remains good for classic pizza and is now open for lunch, when they also have pasta (closed Tuesday). We always reserve in the evening (usually same day). Haven't been for lunch. (I feel as though I haven't been out of the kitchen in years.) There are also some new wine bars I haven't been to. Unfortunately the area is tainted by tourist traps. I recently heard that someone had been back to La Piazzetta and found it fine -- we haven't been since the owner decamped. Haven't been to Alchemilla. It has never appealed to me, but I can't remember why. I forget it even exists till I, occasionally, walk past it. Agata e Romeo has a bargain lunch menu. In daytime you can walk across the Colle Oppio. (Also to Monti.)
Testaccio has become very popular at night, with crowds of young people. There are more places to eat, but not all of them are good, and the distance from the lungotevere to a great many of the restaurants is longer than it may look. I am pretty turned off by Trastevere, but there are a few places. We recently rediscovered Corsetti Il Galeone, Piazza S. Cosimato, and thought it good and a bargain. We gave up La Fucina years ago. Again, Trastevere is full of places, most not interesting, and crowds of young people. The last time we went to l'Obitorio, quite early, we barely got a table and there was a line down the block when we left.
I'm afraid the bottom line is as you feared. Neither area is perfect. The Celio is generally better connected to other parts of Rome, on foot and by bus and metro. The 673 bus goes quite close to the new Testaccio market, but only every 20 minutes. Food shopping in the neighborhood is not good. The Elite supermarket on Via Cavour is better than anything we have here. But it's not terribly burdensome to hop on a 3 or 75 to Testaccio to shop, and I'd rather live here by the Colosseum and be able to walk to Largo Argentina, Pantheon, Piazza Venezia, etc.
Thanks for the VERY full commentary. Its pretty much along the lines I expected from our earlier visits. Celio is such a very pleasant, convenient and liveable neighborhood, with its own wonders even, but it really lacks a special draw for the eater - other than simply living in an Italian community in the first place. I can relate to your comment of not coming out of the kitchen - if you are a good cook why would your husband want to go out/spend the money - and also walking past neighborhood places year after year - I do the same in Park Slope. I think you would know if there are any hidden gems there ...
What happened to Pizzeria Forum? it did have a neapolitan baker when we were there, but that was quite a number of years ago now.
Thanks for the info on the bus to the Testaccio market which we will look forward to visiting. How far is the new market from the old market square, and Im wondering, what is the impact looking like for the shops in the old market area?
finally, wondering, where do you buy your bread? We like the country breads best - we've bought at Volpetti, Passi, and a place that sold pane Genzano by weight on Via St. Giovanni Laterano - is there a source that you recommend?
I'd pick Celio for a lot of reasons over Testaccio. First of all, Testaccio can get pretty noisy at night. There are a lot of clubs there, and it can be noisy (depending on where you are)
Celio is a great, quiet neighborhood. There are a lot of restaurants within walking distance in Monti. Taverna dei Fori Imperiale, Cavour 313, Urbana 47, Tricolore, L'Asino d'oro, and more are all within walking distance. Also great enoteche like Al Vino, Al Vino and Tre Scalini. And the newest arrival Fata Morgana gelateria.