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Armando vs. La Campana

ttoommyy Oct 21, 2013 01:15 PM

It was our first time to Armando al Pantheon this evening and it may have been one of the best meals we've ever had in Rome. Last night at La Campana was good, but what a comedy of errors the service was! Luckily we were not in a hurry and found it entertaining. Not so much other tables around us. Will report more later when I have time.

  1. s
    sockster Nov 4, 2013 02:32 PM

    We went to La Campana last night to dinner, and today to Armando for lunch. La Campana was actually really good. We got there at 9:30 when most of the tourists were finishing up and we had particularly good service. It's not an elegant restaurant by any means, but the food was really good. Excellent burrata with tomatoes, great zucchini flowers followed. I had the pasta with clams and they were really good especially with the fresh hot pepper the waiter brought me. My companion had the maialino and it was outstanding. Tender on the inside, really crispy on top- she loved it. We had a fairly priced bottle of wine and all of this food cost 100 euros. Really fair.

    As for Amando, they redid the restaurant, raised the prices a little, and in my opinion, it's better than ever! Incredible, perfect matriciana, and cacao e pepe were the starters, followed by the steak with rocket- Amazing!! Armando is a cut ahead of La Campana in the finesse department- it's now a bit elegant without losing their neighborhood charm. If we had to choose, Armando would win every time. But, La Campana was really good too...and we would go back there as well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sockster
      ttoommyy Nov 4, 2013 05:36 PM

      I agree with all you wrote. I'm sure the service problems we had are not a regular problem at La Campana. The food was very good when we went (and has been other times we've gone) but Armando is a cut above.

      1. re: ttoommyy
        jen kalb Nov 4, 2013 07:33 PM

        so glad to hear that both of these long term favorites are still delivering.!

    2. t
      t14072 Oct 22, 2013 06:03 AM

      We were at Armando last night as well. Food was outstanding, especially the artichoke, eggplant Parmesan, the carbonara, and the dessert, a lovely ricotta cake whose recipe I would like. Would skip the duck next time. House red was good and to end a wonderful grappa, really wonderful, to cap off a great meal. All seemed to work smoothly and at a great pace. Would definitely recommend.

      5 Replies
      1. re: t14072
        b
        barberinibee Oct 22, 2013 07:19 AM

        The blogger of this recipe for torta "antica Roma" is upfront about it being only an approximation of Armando al Pantheon's, but thought you might like having it anyway

        http://profumodibiscotti.blogspot.it/2010/04/la-mia-torta-antica-roma.html

        (Please note the ultimate comment in the "comments" thread of that blog post from the chef of Armando al Pantheon, Claudio Gargioli, humorously refusing to confirm the "validity" of the posted recipe, but complimenting the author and saying he hopes she comes to Rome so he can try a slice of her cake

        )

        This picture indicates a lot more crumb in the crust, plus a copious dusting of powdered sugar

        http://www.lucianopignataro.it/a/roma...

        It is marvelous how Armando al Pantheon maintains its quality and standing over the decades. I especially like that it so dramatically proves wrong the lazy dogmatic advice to visitors to Italy of "never eat near a tourist site or anyplace offering a menu in English". Not true, and people who miss Armando al Pantheon mindlessly following that "rule" really miss out.

        1. re: t14072
          ttoommyy Oct 22, 2013 08:34 AM

          "a lovely ricotta cake"

          The torta antica romana was outstanding! Perhaps the best dessert of our trip yet.

          1. re: ttoommyy
            vinoroma Oct 22, 2013 10:38 AM

            ttoommyy, you have to go to the jewish bakery early in the morning (boccione, but has no sign, so just go to the main drag in the ghetto and ask for the bakery - it is on the corner, looks like a whole in the wall, the 4 sisters wear blue aprons/coats and are unfriendly) and ask for the torta di ricotta con visciole. you can thank me later :)

            1. re: vinoroma
              ttoommyy Oct 22, 2013 01:39 PM

              Sadlly, this is our last night in Rome. It will have to wait until next time. But thanks anyway!

              1. re: ttoommyy
                vinoroma Oct 23, 2013 09:15 AM

                I realized that after writing this comment, when i saw your other post. Oh well, onemore reason for you to come back!

        2. minchilli Oct 22, 2013 01:15 AM

          I agree, Armando is extremely good these days.
          La Campana can be a bit hit or miss, especially on the service side of things when the place gets too busy. It's a much bigger restaurant, and is usually crowded.

          www.ElizabethMinchilliInRome.com

          4 Replies
          1. re: minchilli
            jen kalb Oct 22, 2013 03:51 AM

            does La Campana still have that cadre of older waiters? Ive never been in the evening and I can imagine they get tired by them.

            1. re: jen kalb
              ttoommyy Oct 22, 2013 08:31 AM

              There was one older waiter and he was the problem! The owner/manager/whatever-his-title had to keep after him and fix all his mistakes, etc. Also, the woman making out the checks seemed like a bit of a ditz. The hour and a half we were there played like a scene from a movie with Roberto Benigni as the harried guy trying to "clean up" after the older waiter and his mistakes!

              1. re: ttoommyy
                r
                RCF Oct 22, 2013 09:13 AM

                I was somewhat disapppointed by La Campana. While the pasta was very good, the deep fried appetizers we got were greasy, and the desserts were so-so. Also, I was pretty shocked when they started to take my son's main course plate away while I was still eating. One of the things I hate in the U.S. is when waiters take away plates before everyone is finished eating, and this had never happened to me before in Europe. Also, I didn't like the fact that they wanted to put us near the restrooms when there were a number of better located tables, although they did move us when I requested it. Our reservation was for 9:00 pm, and many of the better located tables remained empty while we were there, so there really was no good reason for initially seating us by the restrooms.

                1. re: ttoommyy
                  jen kalb Oct 22, 2013 09:15 AM

                  Im sorry you had that experience. We ve been only at lunch over the years and it seems like certain waiters are the same they were our first time in 1978! I like the fact that there is continuity and family ownership, but I can sure sympathize with your frustration!

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