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Jan 22, 2014 02:18 PM

Finalizing restaurants

Hi all,

Exactly 2 weeks from today we will be in Rome. I am finalizing our restaurant plans and just wanted some last minute advice. This is our 5th trip to Rome and we are staying off of Via del Colosseo. Days 3-5 we have sites we are seeing at lunch so will have dinner out.

Day 1 - We arrive early. Lunch at La Taverna dei Fori Imperioli. Snack for dinner. Will be jetlagged and up early for a long next day.
Day 2 - Naples and Pompeii. Will grab pizza in Naples for lunch. Maybe Trattoria Monti for dinner. I just don't know how tired we might be. Considered Li Rioni as nearby, but don't think I would want pizza twice in a day.
Day 3 - Dinner Armando al Pantheon. We've never eaten there.
Day 4 - Taking the Eating Italy food tour of Testaccio. I thought that would be a fun way to sample several things in Testaccio. Late dinner Roscioli (already reserved).
Day 5 - Late pizza lunch at Pizzarium or pizza dinner near apt at Li Rioni.

How far in advance do I need to reserve for Trattoria Monti? Probably the most well known restaurant I've eaten at in the past is Checchino dal 1887.
Any thoughts are appreciated.

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  1. And now considering swapping Armando with Perilli. We want one night of traditional Roman food.

    1. All good choices and you've obviously done your homework.

      I'd reserve for Monti and ever Taverna dei Fori, a week in advance. Although Taverna is usually easy to get in at lunch time, you just never know.

      I'm a huge fan of Perilli, but if you have to choose between Armando and Perilli, I think I'd go with Armando. If only because you will be going to Testaccio the next day anyway. And you can walk to a from Armando, through the center of Rome.

      For pizza near you I also like alle Carrette on Via Madonna dei Monti. A real neighborhood place. (across the street from Taverna dei Fori Imperiali)

      3 Replies
      1. re: minchilli

        Thank you for your reply Elizabeth. Big fan.

        I will stick with Armando then. So you would recommend alle Carrette over Li Rione and Pizzarium or in addition to?

        1. re: angiez

          All three places are extremely different. And I certainly wouldn't eliminate Pizzarium in favor of either. But just in case you don't make it to Pizzarium, and just want to go out for a good neighborhood pizza, Carrette is a good choice.

          1. re: minchilli

            I've heard so many good things about Pizzerium and a few bad, that I feel I must try. Since Carrette is right around the corner from our apartment we will try that instead of Li Rioni.

      2. I saw what I assume was an Eating Italy tour group last year in the Testaccio market and Flavio's = I agree with Elizabeth that you will be getting the Testaccio experience on that round. You will enjoy Armando. Try the lamb and some puntarelle, if you havent had them elsewhere on your visit.

        Have a great trip! Im not sure I understand when you are going to grab pizza for lunch in Naples though - when are you seeing Pompeii? - its a multi-hour visit with time out and back as well.

        26 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Hi Jen Kalb,

          Thanks for the reply. I've had puntarelle a couple of times. I love it. My partner, not a fan of the bitterness.

          As for Naples, we are meeting a guide to tour Pompeii which will end around 2:00. Hoping to be back in Naples by 3:30. I found a couple of pizzerias that are open all day. The one I settled on is Pizzeria di Matteo. Have you heard of it? I picked it because it is near the Archaeological Museum. And I've read conflicting reviews about Da Michele.

          We will be back in Rome at 7:10. Hoping to get a late dinner reservation at Trattoria Monti.

          1. re: angiez

            Yes di Matteo is good. So is the Archeological Museum but you've already seen Pompeii...IMO walking around the historic centro of Naples is better....a very special place where you can visit Gothic churches, see a major Caravaggio (Capello Pio Misericordia), go underground into a greek marketplace (under San Lorenzo Maggiore) and see italian street life at its best. .Di Matteo is right on the Via Tribunali so if you walk across there, you will get the flavor tho it may not be the ideal time of day (check closing hours). On that strip I liked Gino Sorbillo a shade better but that was based on one test of each and that was a few yrs ago. The crust is the thing that makes the Naples pizza, even more than its toppings - its perfect bread. I had a white pizza at di Matteo that was fantastic- better than my husband's margherita pie which for some reason had dried out mozzarella. But Im sure that doesnt happen every time
            Love Naples.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I looked at Gino Sorbillo and I think it closes at 3:30. If somehow we get back to Naples before then I will go there. I wanted a back up just in case. I would be so disappointed if I don't get a soupy in the middle margherita pizza!

              I hadn't thought of skipping the museum and just walking around. Everything I've been reading regarding Pompeii suggested a trip to the museum after. What I really want to see is the Veiled Christ. Might be able to do that if we skip the museum. Weather may determine what we do too. I'm looking forward to Naples.. my grandfather was born in Sicily. I'm inching my way over there.

              1. re: angiez

                I disagree with advice to skip the archeological museum, which is one of the world's greatest, and it is hard to understand the richness of what Pompei was without seeing the treasures that were removed from there and placed in the museum for safety.

                However, I also think it is worthwhile to stroll the centro storico of Naples if you can find the time, and if you must skip anything, I would skip making a huge project out getting a pizza in Naples. There is pizza everywhere in the center of Naples, just abotu every 150 feet, even 15 feet, all doing the same style with the same ingredients. People argue endlessly about whether this place or that place is good with no consensus reached. Quality is uneven even in the recommended pizzerie, and most Americans end up finding Neapolitan pizza too soggy for their taste anyway.

                There is great pizza all around the area and in Rome if you are headed there. See the stuff that is thousands of years old, priceless, can't be seen anyplace and trust me that pizza is about the least rewarding way you can spend your time and money after you've traveled 10,000 miles from wherever you live to Italy.

                Heresy to say that on Chowhound board I guess but there is more than one opinion about food and food values so I hope nobody is offended.

                I really like Armando by the way-

                1. re: kmzed

                  its good to have some real discussion!

                  Agree that Naples is much more than pizza - on our last visit (6 days) we did not have pizza once.But its definitely worth trying in situ if you have the time.Via Tribunali is worth a stroll with or without the pizza.

                  The Archeological Museum is a great huge museum but we were a bit underwhelmed by the fairly limited scope of what it added to our visits to Pompeii and Ercolano (the latter highly recommended.).You may be tired after a day racing around Pompeii site (better to take a little more time and let it sink in), and the marble floors may not be wnat you need. The most famous thing is the Alexander mosaic, but to me it was much more inspirational to see the copy in situ in the House of the Faun (dont for any reason skip a visit to the Villa dei Misteri.). There are some wonderful classical sculptures in the Farnese collection which were a highlight of our visits..

                  I just found the street life in Naples to be particularly enjoyable - the open fronted shops with strings of semi-dry tomatoes hanging, snatches of (live) song and accordion playing, motorini zipping in and out, the mystery of the old tall streets (with essentially no street light at night.) It felt like an older Europe.For me it was classic and wonderful.Look forward to seeing Sicily and some other southern cities.

                  Veiled Christ could be good (not really our period) but you would be looping through the very interesting old Roman street grid area and there are wonderful churches, squares and of course food to enjoy all through that area.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    I obviously did not allow enough time for this daytrip. But I also knew I would be back for a longer stay. That said, I think after lunch we will just meander around. I would like to see the Caravaggio in addition to the Veiled Christ.

                    I am going to stick with my pizza choice for lunch. I just feel I must have margherita pizza in Naples. Next trip we will stay for a few days and try other local specialties.

                    Thanks so much everyone!

                    1. re: angiez

                      Sorry if I dashed off my advice in a way that it was misinterpreted as a suggestion you should skip eating pizza or spend time eating something else in Naples. Since you have so little time in Naples, pizza makes perfect sense for lunch. What I was trying to convey was a suggestion to eat at a pizzerie convenient to the sights you want to see and count on being able to find one open as part of your meander, spontaneously when you are hungry. I wouldn't go on a time-consuming journey to a recommended address, since the quality of what comes out of the oven from pie to pie is pretty uneven in every pizzeria. If you are lucky, you will like the one you get.

                      Do see if you can track down ahead of time whether seeing the Caravaggio is Pio Monte della Misericordia is possible during the window of time you have. Sometimes there are services in that chapel at odd hours and it is best if you can plan accordingly.

                      1. re: kmzed

                        No worries kmzed. I was under the impression most of the pizzerias closed at 3:30 until the evening. That was why I was looking at specific ones.

                        Unfortunately Pio Monte della Misericordia will be closed during our few hours in Naples. Our meandering will also depend on the weather! We were in Rome 2 years ago Feb during all the snow. I am not a fan of being real cold!

                        1. re: angiez

                          Naples generally stays above freezing. The alleys are so narrow even rain isn't generally a problem. But in the event of hail or a downpour, the archeological museum is worthwhile!

                          By all mans have some pizzerie X'ed on a map but you will see open pizzerie wherever you go. Bummer about Pio Monte della Misericordia not being open, but don't despair because Naples inside and out is overload of unforgettable sights and impressions. Just stick your head in any open door.

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      Sorry you were underwhelmed by the archeological museum but other reactions are polar opposite, both as to the artistic quality of the other mosaics and the impact of seeing the ordinary household objects people died gripping as they were overwhelmed in the sudden disasater. The bleached stones and ruins of Pompei itself have taken on for many a rather romantic air and for many the human dimension of what actually happened is quite moving in the museum.

                      I just don't know what street life will be around in Naples in the middle of the day, although it is seldom as quiet as other southern towns and cities during the pausa. But it is certainly an "older Europe". One of the oldest!

                      1. re: kmzed

                        its a reminder that Pompeii was a provincial city and the objects (small bronzes, etc) were the ordinary things that ordinary people had. I will give you that. Mostly not of artistic distinction. Id rather see the "beware the dog" mosaic on the threshold of a Pompeii ruin than an item in a case, but thats a question of personal preference. We felt the mosaics, frescos statuary (except for the Farnese items of course) etc. were not as exciting as in other museums that would be visitable by the OP, for example the Palazzo Massimo in Rome)

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          just can't help but disagree jenkalb about the level of artistic accomplishment in mosaics, fresco, ceramic and jewelry preserved and on display in the archeological museum in Naples.. It is a small collection but I think memorable and revealing and not to be dismissed as provincial. Some of the best stuff ended up in NYC, actually, but which other museums have more aesthetically pleasing stuff seems beside the point if one is traveling to get a grip on Pompei.

                          1. re: kmzed

                            Its an archaeological museum not an art museum so obviously the same standards dont apply.. For me the most interesting item was the recreation/model of the temple of Cybele. maybe I dont have the imagination to breath life into the cases of relatively undistinguished objects so that I fall back on the more obvious aesthetic points. I found the Capodimonte Museum, one of the very distinguished art galleries Italy and relatively unvisited, much more to my liking.

                            Ps both Squisitezze/Salon Del Gusto Cantina di Sapienza are very near the Archeologico and worth visiting for their food for visitors with a little more time.I think the informal Squisitezze "cheese bar" serves all afternoon, and they sell some lovely regional food items. ..

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              The fact that it is called an archeological museum doesn't mean there isn't art of indisputible great artistiry in it. But I can't prove it to you so I am going to drop it. Others who are interested I hope will find time to go to the museum while in Naples (sooner than the go to Salon del Gusto, which is trendy but...) . Anyway, the msueum is one of the greatest in Europe (as is the Capodimonte). I really haven't got a problem with somebody saying they'd rather explore outdoor Naples or go to a cheese shop rather than spend time in one of the world's greatest museums. I just have a problem with somebody suggesting the museum actually isn't all that great. It is.

                              What I really wanted to add to this thread is that Port'Alba pizzeria in the centro is open continuosly (but maybe not Sundays) and Vesi is open until 4.30. Most of what gets blogged and written about pizza in Naples (and increasingly Rome) is being distilled down to the same 3 pizza places, over and over and over, as if every place was somehow miles beneath in quality. Bloggers go in and eat one slice of recommended pizza then recommend it again. The strike zone for getting an authentic taste of Neapolitan pizza is wider than that. And if you go to some place on the fly and don't like the pizza, don't finish eating it! Walk down the street and buy another cheap pizza and see if you like that better.

                              1. re: kmzed

                                Hey, if you read back to my first post, I did not say the archeological museum was not worth visiting (we have gone there ourselves on each visit to Naples), I simply said that Naples - the City - was worth seeing in itself and that on a visit where the lions share was spent in Pompeii maybe it would be more balanced and less tiring to see the other. There is so much more to Naples than proximity to Pompeii and Pizza. and these folks only have a couple of hours, seemingly.

                                Have you actually been to Squisitezze - when we were there it was friendly people enthusiastic about their local food traditions and welcoming to visitors.. They had a big jar of cut up annurce apples pickling on the counter which, if I understand correctly was going to be a component of the next year's insalata di rinforzo . The food was a little more self-conscious and less strictly traditional than other places but it was still local and very good. It would not be my "if you only had one meal in Naples" pick but it is convenient to this itinerary and open all afternoon.

                                Yes Port Alba is a good traditional suggestion, as well and certainly a historic place in a historic spot *note, their seafood and other non-pizza dishes are worth trying}. On our trip when we ate pizza, we ate at precisely the three pizzerie - Port Alba, Gino Sorbillo and di Matteo - mentioned on this thread because we were staying in that part of town all had very good pizza but it was my least favorite of the three, The others had more impressive crust which is the feature that seems just right to me about the pies of this region. There are tons of pizzerie in Naples and Campania and the standard is very high - also many articles and such about them including on the Campania focussed Luciano Pignataro wineblog - they even have an app now
                                I agree that the whole pizza mania with all the blogging has gotten out of hand but there is some value to looking into things a bit - the first place one sees coming out of the station might not be the best sample...

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  This has turned into a lively and interesting discussion. We do only have just a few hours in Naples. Less than 3. So after seeing Pompeii and having that pizza lunch we will decide what to do. I like the idea of roaming around Naples, but my original thought was to go to the museum to compliment our Pompeii experience.

                                  What I've really learned is Naples deserves a long visit all by itself. Not as an add on or daytrip. And I am taking notes on all suggestions.

                                  And we might swap di Matteo with Port Alba so we can have try a couple of other dishes. All of the pesce dishes sound delicious. And they have carciofi as a contorni. We go to Italy in February, so I eat an artichoke at least once a day sometimes twice. I would love to see how they prepare them in Naples. Usually only see them the two ways in Rome.

                                  1. re: angiez

                                    If you like your taste of Naples think about going back sometime for an extended stay. The climate is great pretty much year round and if you like art and history it is a very rich destination. It is also one of the most interesting regions of Italy for ingredients and recipes. Even on this trip, if you have room in your suitcase, buy dried pasta to bring home if you spot it in stores as you stroll around. Great unusual shapes, great stuff. Doesn't spill in your luggage.

                                    Of course you might end up thinking we're crazy. Naples sends some people to fleeing, screaming, as fast as they can!

                                    1. re: kmzed

                                      Oh, I've heard all about people running from Naples.. Just makes me want to go check it out even more. I try to go to Italy each year or every other so there is no doubt we will be back for a longer visit. I'm just in love with Rome and cannot get enough of it.

                                    2. re: angiez

                                      I looked at the most recent Italian language reviews on TA of Port' seems like it may have sunk a little since we were there... it certainly isnt a fast service place. The dish I remember is the pasta with seafood in cartoccio.
                                      But if you want to go to a full service restaurant in Naples rather than a pizzeria, there are plenty of options. If you do, vegetable dishes (often antipasti) fritto misto di mare, eggplant parmigiana and genovese (a onion-beef meat sauce for pasta) are excellent.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        I was under the impression TA restaurant reviews weren't reliable. I do use their forums for advice, but mainly come here for restaurant help.

                                        If service is that slow at Port'Alba we will have to skip it as we are pressed for time anyway.

                                        Thanks jen kalb.

                                        1. re: angiez

                                          Sure, As a whole I find TA quite unreliable and uninteresting, but it has its uses, if you scan the Italian language reviews and do some assessment of the likely credibility of the reviewers. if there is not a lot of current feedback on a place available.(I havent been to PA since 2007 and I dont know if anyone else here has ever reported on it) I might take a look.

                                    3. re: jen kalb

                                      yeah, what I was objecting to was that opinion about "balancing". You are expressing personal values and approach I disagree with and values I don't share and wouldn't advise others to follow. But it's okay to disagree publicly. Pity they don't have more time in Naples, everybody agrees to that. I don't see any reason to "balance" anything. They should make thei most of what little time they have in whatever way they see fit. Up to them. If it isn't a "balanced" 3 hours, what could be less important? (Naples isn't a very balanced kind of place.)

                                      I have no problem with people looking into things a bit before they go someplace where they will need to eat. I don't arrive anyplace without having soaked myself in restaurant recommendations from probably 15 different sources. Seriously. On my recent trip to Palermo, I was able go around sight seeing and spot places I recognized from research and choose those over other places right next to it when we were hungry. I was glad I had all that knowledge in my head.

                                      What I was trying to suggest is don't zero in on the one place some very dubious consensus has deemed the "best" by majority rule and then march to it to the exclusion of plunging into Naples (or Palermo or Paris). Have a multi-dimensional plan. I'll never forget the time I was in Paris and walked right past a crepe stand whose aromas had me instantly salivating in my determination to eat at a recommended bistro where of course the food was tourist flat and disappointing. I should have stopped and at least tasted that crepe!

                                      Among the many things I object to being done by food bloggers and newspaper writers who blow in for one day to Naples (or Palermo or any other Ryan Air destiantion) is how often they zero in on that spanky new place as at least one of their recommendations because after a while you get the feeling they just are afraid to recommend those older funky places to uninitiated middle class tourists -- plus they have to have discovered something "new".

                                      I stuck my head in Salon del Gusto and wasn't interested. (I eat practically no cheese, so that is certainly part of it). But I have urged the OP to stick her head into as manhy open doors as she has time to do so why not Salon del Gusto?

                                      It's not just "pizza mania". It's "street food! mania. I don't know why Anthony Bourdain has more cred than Paula Deen. I don't know why shoving a fistful of lard-fried spleen into your mouth followed by a fried cannoli full of sugar-loaded cheese is so much cooler and better for you than slapping a cheeseburger between two halves of a donut.

                                      1. re: jen kalb

                                        one more thought about choosing a particular address for the "best sample" of pizza:

                                        It really does make sense while in Rome to go directly to Pizzarium to sample Bonci's pizza -- not because it is necessarily the best but because it is a signature one-man show creation that has become famous and you can only get it from the source. Go taste for yourself what all the shouting is about and make up your own mind.

                                        But it is just about the essence of Neapolitan pizza is that it is GENERIC and FORMULAIC. Everybody is making the same pizza. Everybody tries the same basic classic pie, no variations. It is considered a sin to vary from it! It is just the antithesis of the unique branded product (of which Italy has many storied ones).

                                        And while you might think that the first place one sees coming out of the train station is not the best sample, it just might be! It is possible I will never forget as long as I live rushing to the train station in Naples and nearly fatally colliding with a waiter racing out of a storefront pizzeria with a huge bubbling hot pie which just missed me as he slammed it down in front of an octogenerian parked at rickety table balanced on the curb where traffic was screaming by less than an inch from him as he dived almost head first into that pizza with his knife and fork. Some of the very best places to eat and drink in Naples are right around the train station.

                                        1. re: kmzed

                                          I havent eaten at them but yes there certainly are several in that Attanasio (sfoliatelle) Mimi alla Ferrovia, etc)
                                          I just find the station area relatively scuzzy and unappealing in comparison the historic centro. Which restaurants do you recommend near the station?
                                          As "standardized" as neapolitan pizza is (and maybe the thing to say is that the bar is high), some do do it better than others - we saw quite a variety on the bread element of the pies in naples and the pie type will also affect your experience.

                                          1. re: kmzed

                                            ps your description of the delivery of the steaming pie i wonderful. Its an indelible kind of impression. WeI had a lot of those in Naples.

                        2. re: jen kalb

                          Neapolitan church where Caravaggio hangs is Pio Monte della Misericordia, and it is not always open, so check ahead.

                          Just as there are many different types of Italian food, region by region, there is also many different types of Italian street life. I really do enjoy Naples, but I don't think it should be held up as having the definitive or best street life of Italy (and Sicilian street life is extremely different from Neapolitan street life).