Elle Effe is a Sicilian place very close to Campo de’Fiori. Went because it was pouring rain on Saturday night, we were looking for a light meal of seafood, they were only two blocks from where we were staying, and they took our reservation. (We would have gone to Pierluigi but due to the rain they were short of tables.)
Started with a very nice seafood salad (€14) and a pretty good Sicilian antipasto plate (€10) with caponata, arancini, and I forget the third thing.
Next we ordered pasta alla Norma (€11), which was exquisite, and pasta con le sarde (€13), which was tasty but to my disappointment not as fishy as other versions I’ve had. So much for a light seafood meal, the portions were huge and we were too stuffed for secondi. Total €107.50 with two bottles of wine and one of water.
I saw a risotto alla nera di seppie at another table, looked really good.
Bellacarne - kosher meat restaurant in the ghetto. Went because we were walking by, tired, and our guests were craving vegetables, and despite the meat focus they have lots of vegetarian dishes. Nice mezze platter, though of course no tzatziki. Zucchini appetizer thing was very nice, sort of like caponata. Rolled roast veal breast was very good. Somebody ordered their version of one of the Roman guanciale-centric pastas, which unless you keep kosher I would not advise.
They have a whole array of desserts made with soy-milk pastry cream. We got some stuff to go from Pasticceria Boccione instead.
Went to Ditarambo, not my choice, I found the menu too creative in that style where most dishes have an extra ingredient or two. Had some bresaola-like cecina (Spanish dried beef) that was very good. One of my companions had braised beef cheeks with licorice, which was really good if you think licorice makes sense in that context.
Antica Trattoria Due Collone, the place may have been around for a century plus, but it was remodeled fairly recently, everything except the eponymous columns was spiffy and modern. Despite being right on the main tourist drag between the Pantheon and Piazza di Spagna it was mostly Italians at lunch.
I had a very nice appetizer of moscardini with chickpeas.
One of my companions had the cozze, not bad though not as good as my moscardini.
We all had the ravioli di baccalà, the dish that drew us in, turned out to be filled with a mix of potato and cod (i.e. mantecato), very al dente in a light sauce of onion and parsley, very nice rustic dish.
Great choice for lunch if you need something in the midst of the tourist apocalypse.
We were wandering around the fancy shopping area to the west of Piazza di Spagna and noticed a lovely dining area in an interior courtyard off Via della Croce. Figured out that it was Otello alla Concordia, which has its main entrance and sign around the corner on Via Mario De Fiori. The daily specials included pajata, coratella, and puntarelle, and there was no obvious pandering to tourists beyond an English menu, so we gave it a shot.
Fiori di zucca (€6) were the most anchovy-dominated version of the trip to date, very nice with the house white Frascati (€12 / 750). Antipasto Otello (€12) included some of the best prosciutto we’ve had on the trip plus some pecorino, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, fried zucchini, etc.
Tortiglioni all’amatriciana (€11) were very good but I feel like I could make that at home so why don’t I learn and just order alla carbonara every time? My dining companion had tonarelli cacio e pepe (€10), which to me is like “spaghetti with bacon and eggs” minus the bacon and eggs. Never again.
Unfortunately did not have appetite left for any of the very appealing secondi.
With another bottle of house red Chianti, a liter of gassoza, one sgroppino, some kind of custard dessert, a couple of coffees, and coperto, total was €82, very reasonable. Another excellent choice if you’re looking for an oasis in the middle of tourist chaos.
L’Angolo Divino, very nice wine bar on a quiet corner two blocks from Campo de’Fiori. Short but interesting selection of wines by the glass, huge bottle list with many interesting things (the place doubles as a shop). Had a nice salumi platter with unusual items, an interesting wine-friendly salad of cabbage, gruyere or similar, and pears, and some simple but tasty meatballs.
We went in to Antica Caffè del Moro because it looked like a very pretty place to have drinks (€7 each for a good Sauvignon and an Aperol spritz), but some of the food in the free happy hour buffet was so good we decided to stay for dinner. Customers were mostly tourists but they make a conscious effort not to pander or lower their standards. (Signs outside say things like “no tourist menu” and “real Roman chef”).
Surprisingly extensive wine list with a lot of interesting regional wines, many offered by the glass. I had a Blanc de Morgex and a Cinqueterre, among others.
Caprese (€10) was fine. I’m becoming an insufferable snob about mozzarella.
Rigatoni al sugo di coda alla vaccinara (€10) was a great idea I had not seen before. This version had a lot of sweet carrot, onion, and tomato, reminded me in a nostagic way of Chef Boyardee. Polished off every drop.
Abacchio alla scottadito was tasty but not the right rib chops it should be. I hope I can find a proper version before I go home. Contorno of broccolo romanesco with lots of olive oil and garlic was excellent.
I was taking a broken suitcase to a Samsonite service center and looked in the Eat Rome app to see if Elizabeth Minchilli recommended someplace in the area. Trattoria da Danilo was right around the corner so we gave it a try.
The mixed appetizers (€10 x 2) were fun. Fritto misto was a standout.
Had a couple of bites of my companion’s spaghetti alla carbonara with white truffles (€20, €10 more than the regular version), that’s a great combination.
Coratella d’abacchio with artichokes (€12) was excellent, an offal lover’s dream. Haven’t had anything like that since Incanto closed.
Drank a bottle of Ceci Otello Lambrusco (€24), the richest, darkest Lambrusco I’ve had. Good match for the rich food.
With a liter of gassoza and coperto, total was a reasonable €82.50. Probably wouldn’t go back as the owner was rude to some of the other customers and that didn’t create the most convivial atmosphere.
Speaking of the EatItaly / EatRome app, Minchilli could do a better job of keeping the info up to date. Using the “Open Sunday” filter I kept finding places that no longer are (if they ever were). One place that sounded great moved to a hotel rooftop and tripled its prices over six months ago.
On Sunday I had a fantasy of eating lunch in a countryside restaurant, but doing that without going through Termini or spending two hours on a bus seems impossible, so picked l’Archeologia on the Appia Antica as a convenient compromise. It’s in a walled compound so no grand views, but it’s a very pretty place.
We did the whole nine yards with a spread of seafood appetizers (fried moscardini, grilled pulpo with pappa al pomodoro, seafood salad, stewed baby octopus), gnocchi with vongole (needed more clams), zuppi di fagioli, roast pork with peppers, heavenly grilled scampi, tiramisù, and some cantucci and chocolate the house apparently sends to every table. With coperto (bread was mediocre by current Roman standards), a bottle each of water, Felluga Sauvignon, and Velenosi Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, and a glass of passito di Sicilia, total came to €185, quite reasonable for the quality and atmosphere.
I had made a reservation but they could have accommodated us outside without one. Inside I think was fully booked. Few tourists, mostly locals, a couple of big family groups.
La.Vi. (for Latteria Vineria) is a large, design-y place downtown on Via Tomacelli near the Corso that’s open from 11:00am to 2:00am daily, transforming from cafe to restaurant to bar depending on the hour. At lunchtime, in addition to the a la carte menu (which I guess you’ll get if you sit in the roof garden), there’s a buffet that seems to draw a lot of local office workers. At €13 (including filtered still or sparkling water) it’s one of the more expensive I’ve seen, but the quality is high and they offer a wide variety of dishes.
I was attracted by the huge assortment of vegetables and vegetarian dishes as a change of pace from carbonara, pizza, and more carbonara, but there was pasta, meat, fish, and poultry on offer as well. Great choice for a group with conflicting dietary requirements and cravings.
We stayed at the FCO airport Hilton the last night to reduce stress in making our morning flight. We’d been planning to go into Fiumicino town for dinner but by the time we scoped out the airport and figured out the hassle of Terminal 5 we decided to eat in the hotel.
I was very surprised by the quality of my pacchieri alla spada, it was up there with the other seafood pastas I had on this trip. Unfortunately the secondi didn’t measure up to the primi, my galletto was kind of sooty-tasting and there was something inedibly wrong with the beautiful-looking vegetables.
Tip for travelers: the hotel has a secret minivan shuttle service to Terminal 5.
Went to Ar Galletto because after being on our feet all day we wanted a place near where we were staying and it was recommended by the rental manager.
“Risotto ai scampi” was bogus, just a basic risotto with one scampo stuck on top. After that I figured I’d go with the house specialty (galletto = cockerel), which we’d seen on other tables and looked great, whole small rooster (I guess), spatchcocked and grilled to a dark brown. It was so tasty I didn’t remember to take a photo until I’d reduced it to a pile of bones.
The wine list had some very fun and interesting bottles. We drank a Lombardy Riesling Renano IGT and a 2006 Ronchi di Cialla Schioppettino.
Bonci now has a bread bakery. We got a chunk from a little hipster grocery in Testaccio. Way better than the Rome standard though also way more expensive, €5-9 a kilo. I might phone them to find out if any restaurants are serving it.
Volpetti has drastically changed. It used to be the best Italian deli I’ve ever visited, packed with all kinds of different products.
Now they’ve cleared out most of that and it seems like an upscale sandwich shop. So sad.
Perfect raw-milk Camembert from Beppe e i suoi formaggi, which like Volpetti has turned into a restaurant, but unlike Volpetti remains also as great a cheese shop as ever. Ironically this was better than any we managed to buy in Paris.
From my dinner at Da Bucatino last night, an example of the kind of value you can get here: three times as much sausage as I wanted (€12 including potatoes, which I asked them to hold), huge portion of cicoria (€6). Prices include tax and there’s no tip. The sausage patties were reminiscent of Jimmy Dean, only porkier.
Had one of the best cheese plates I’ve had at Beppe e i suoi formaggi. The waiter explained that some of them really are “his” cheeses in the sense that some are made by Beppe’s family in Piemonte and you won’t find those elsewhere. One of those was made from sheep’s milk that’s smoked before making the cheese and another was a “Tubo” blue made from a blend of goat and cow. Great selection of natural wines, too. Had the place to ourselves in the lull between lunch and dinner.
Went back to Ar Galletto. I think it’s a bit fancier than eight years ago.
Our server does the wine list (also buys the fish), he steered us to this nice Etna Bianco (€30).
Ovoli salad (€30), a treat.
Carciofo alla romana (€7), maybe the best of the trip. Stem was not bitter.
Mazzancole (€30 for four), excellent.
Half of the galletto (€22 for the whole, we split it), first chicken of the trip that was not overcooked. FInger-licking good. Potatoes were also very nice.
Strawberry gelato (€8? comped), too sweet for me.
Tartufo di Pizzo Calabro (€8? comped), new to me, chocolate and hazelnut gelato around a chocolate center.
Excellent leisurely lunch at a surprisingly modest price given the quality of the ingredients and precise cooking. Might need a reservation sometimes but it wasn’t very busy on Friday.
Have you been to/do you have an opinion on Da Cesare al Casaletto?
That place blew up in the hipster recommendation world. David Chang and Katie Parla both shouted it out recently.