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Rome: Sid's Short List for those new to Rome

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Recently on 18 Feb there was a post asking for a general list of Roman restaurants. The poster was faulted for not being more specific and for being too general. However that may be, still Chowhound gets a number of such requests. All I can do is provide my own short list for those new to Rome. I urge others on Chowhound to do the same, most of whom doubtless know far more than I.

I would tell someone first to look for the local, the Roman specialties, food that you can’t get elsewhere; and to look for variety, e.g. fine dining or simple, various locations, various kinds of food.

I know best the area around the Pantheon, Piazza Farnese, and the Vatican. I’ll let other Chowhounders add other locations.

* in Testaccio section of the city, where tripe is the specialty (yet you can get plenty of non-tripe):
– Felice, which is more upscale; ask for the waiter Alessio. Make your reservation well ahead of time; I tried to eat there 12 Feb and it was booked until late in the evening. It’s a very popular restaurant.
– an alterative, and more of the simple trattoria is Trattoria Da “Oio” a Casa Mia, Via Galvani, 43-45. I had the Coratella: the innards of a lamb, cut up into small pieces, and served in a stew. The spaghetti Carbonara was also very good, with lots of pepper

* In the area around the Vatican, which is mostly a wasteland for dining, yet I’ve eaten well at the simple trattoria Il Mozzicone dei Fratelli POGGI, Borgo Pio 180

* The area around the Roman Forum in another wasteland, yet in years past I ate well at Ostaria da Nerone Via delle Terme di Tito 96. It continues to be mentioned with favor on Chowhound. In more recent years I’ve just walked back into the city center and have eaten at Enoteca Corsi (below).

* Kosher: Roman Jews have their own culinary tradition. I recommend La Taverna del Ghetto, via del Portico d'Ottavia, 8, although I should add that I haven’t been here in a number of years. I found it 100% Kosher: no milk with your coffee (you’ll have to settle for soy), no rare meat. Even the wine is Kosher. The Jewish artichokes were especially good

* For ultra fine dining Il Convivio Troiani Vicolo dei Soldati 31, Rome’s best restaurant, very expensive, and worth it. Have the wine steward, Massimo, choose a wine for you after giving him some general indication of what you’re interested in. Then have him choose dishes off the menu that match the wine. Alas, last 10 Feb he was absent, yet the waiter Erik did a splendid job. With you first bite you will here Angels sing.

* Sometimes it’s just fun to eat on a piazza: My recommendation is Di Rienzo, Piazza del Pantheon 8/9; the food isn’t special, not really a Chowhound place, but the food is quite acceptable. You’re here mostly for the scene. I always go at night, when the setting, in front of the Pantheon, is magical.

* a few dinner places (“lunch” to you Yankees):
– Enoteca Corsi, via dei Gesu 87, dinner (“lunch" to you Yankees) only
– Armando al Pantheon, a stone’s throw from the Pantheon, and very popular with Chowhounders. It would work also for supper (“dinner” to you Yankees”).
– La Campana open on SU, also good for supper
– Sergio alla Grotta, near Piazza Farnese. I ate supper here 12 Feb. I liked it.
-- Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara. Largo dei Library 88. cl SU Supper only, 5pm-10. Here is a small Trattoria with its specially (indeed about the only main course on the menu) fried cod.

* Coffee: Tazza d’Oro at the Pantheon, the Mecca, the Holy Grail, and El Dorado of espresso; the cappuncino is also outstanding. Remember at bars it costs more to sit down.

* Gelato: Giolitti, the Holy Grail of gelato; it costs more to sit down. I was there 11 Feb last, and I found the service surprisingly friendly.

I am sure my fellow Chowhounds will tell me what to take off my short list and what to add.

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  1. Everyone should have his or her own personal list. That's what makes the world go round.
    That said, I'd say the only places I agree with you about are Tazza d'Oro, Armando, Dar Fillertaro and, sometimes but not always, Nerone.

    www.ElizabethMinchilliInRome.com

    4 Replies
    1. re: minchilli

      very similar here.

      1. re: minchilli

        post your list!

        1. re: sidcundiff

          Hi Sid, My list for Rome is quite a long one, and it is widely published elsewhere. I don't think there can be any 'definitive' list to post here, since the entire point of Chowhound is to engage in a dialogue. So just printing a generic list seems to be limited.

          I much prefer to tailor my responses to the questions, which might include variables like budget, location, weather, etc. And then we all like to hear back after the fact, to hear how their experiences went.

          We could all write down our '10 best' lists, but at least for me, that list changes almost daily. Even you admit that many of the places you mention, you haven't visited recently. In addition, there have been about 30 good new openings in the last two years, so there's that too.

          www.ElizabethMinchilliInRome.com

        2. re: minchilli

          What's wrong with Il Convivio?

        3. Lots of ways to enjoy Rome and they all work.

          I'm more of the settle in one place, get to know the neighborhood, visit then revisit places you like kind of guy. My take is that places put up with day trippers out of necessity but go out of their way to please repeat customers. Being polite, dressing appropriately and paying in cash leaving only a modest tip helps.

          I'm agnostic toward folk who plan on spending three days in the city and ask this board for advice seeking "the best..." They will always receive the same 10-15 recommendations, visit a few and leave happy. Having said that, they will have missed out on a more satisfying experience.

          just my two cents...

          1. Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge & experience Sid!

            1 Reply
            1. re: lakesidegirl

              You're welcome, Lakesidegirl. I'm not professional critic, just a country boy who says "Shazam!" when finding fine food.

            2. I am sorry to have to scatch off my list Il Mozzicone dei Fratelli POGGI, Borgo Pio 180. I dined there Holy Wednesday last. The bacala was good, the rest wasn't. So now I judge the area around the Vatican an 100% gastronomical wasteland.

              1. 28 April 2014. Scratch Il Mozzicone dei Fratelli POGGI, Borgo Pio 180 off this list. I ate there Holy Wednesday last, without pleasure. So now the Vatican area for me is a 100% gastronomic waste land.

                1. Sid you do not recommend roscioli?

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: shortyepic

                    Roscioli refused to recognized my reservation that the hotel had phoned and proceeded to seat me in the gangway between there counters and the wall. I had very bad service as well. I'll not go back.

                    1. re: sidcundiff

                      I usually walk over to Roscioli a day ahead of time to secure a reservation. I don't like sitting downstairs and, at lunch, I'm not fond of sitting next to the cold case so a little planning goes a long way.

                      At the end of the day, Roscioli is a very popular destination. Pity, I knew it back in the day. Still, I wouldn't blame your hotel for your two-top in front of the cold case. Nobody knew you. The place is a high-end deli/wine store by day and an interwebs favorite loved/sought by many at night. Visit the place a few times during the day, get a feel for the ebb and flow of customers and then make your own reservation.

                      Many folk have issues with Roscioli as a restaurant. I go there to buy cheeses (burrata!), meats and wines and bring them back to my flat on the Giulia. I also go there at night for the best carbonara in town. Relying on a hotel for a reservation at Roscioli simply doesn't work. You may want to rethink your approach.

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Thanks, Steve, but sorry. The Austrian School of economics can be summarized in four words. "The customer is King." And when I'm treated like a serf, my weapon is to take my business elsewhere.

                        1. re: sidcundiff

                          When in Rome...

                  2. Going to Rome for the first time in September for 4 nights. Staying near Campo de Fiore. My husband is NOT an adventurous eater but will go along with almost anything but sweetbreads. I'd like to dine in/explore the Ghetto (are places generally closed Friday nights?), find a great pizza bianco, and maybe a guide to get in the major sights and skip lines so we can take everything else leisurely. My daughter will be with us in Rome. All suggestions and commentary will be greatly appreciated, I mainly want to try to avoid overpriced touristy stuff and figure out which local spots are great and reasonable. Thanks!

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: SueFH

                      My suggestions for Testaccio and for what Yankees call "lunch" are all good for "local spots", and except for Enoteca Corsi, the will do for supper. Yet I can no longer recommend Il Mozzicone dei Fratelli POGGI, Borgo Pio 180 near the Vatican after the mediocre meal there in April. I had a fine meal there in February. I now have my doubts about Sergio alla Grotta

                      Also avoid Di Rienzo if you don't want a touristy place. I like it for the scene, and so do a lot of other folks. I get an appetizer, spaghetti in tomato sauce, and a good wine, and I sit there until I finish the wine. Go in the evening, when the Pantheon become magical.

                      And yes, genuine Kosher restaurants are closed Friday night and Saturday before 6pm.

                      I know of an excellent guide to Rome, yet it's off-topic for a food blog.

                      On topic for a food blog is Fred Plotkin's book on eating in Italy is recommendable. I wish Maureen Fant would update her book on dining in Rome.

                      1. re: sidcundiff

                        Is there a private messaging function on CH so we could talk guides privately? If we discuss restaurants near where we would be touring could that get us around the restriction (teasing about that, sort of).

                        1. re: SueFH

                          No messaging function. provide an email (suitabky disguised) and Sid can email you if he wishes.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            Thank you Jen. sujormik is the first part, @ gmail.com comes next. Sid I'd appreciate your recommendation for a guide.

                            1. re: SueFH

                              I'll email you. Let me know if you don't get my email.

                    2. Giolitti is a beautiful room. As a source of quality gelato, it has long passed its expiration date.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: steve h.

                        I respectfully disagree, Steve. I had, to be sure, fine gelato at Ciampani, and I plan to try Teatro when I"m again in Rome. Thank you all the same for a polite and respectful reply.

                        1. re: sidcundiff

                          Seeking quality gelato is intrinsically good.