It is very hard to not find a good place to eat in Rome Italy. During our 6 days in Rome, we had an opportunity to try many places. Fortunately, our friends, who have been to Rome many times, had plenty of recommendations. We were also fore-warned that many places close from 3 PM – 7:30 PM. We were also warned that service in Italy is not like service in the US. Don’t expect the wait staff to spend time with you other than taking your order. And, if you want your check, ask for it.
And, as in most of Europe, tipping is nice but not expected. One tips only for very exceptional service.
Pierluigi. A wonderful, upscale seafood restaurant with great fresh fish and wine selections. We began with a wonderful tuna tartare with green apple, cucumbers and yoghurt sauce, followed by a fresh, whole oven-baked saddle breen (a whole fish which we selected) with roasted potatoes, cherry tomatoes and black olives. Service was very good and the sommelier guided us to a 2016 Friuli Ciallabianco from Ronchi di Ciallla, which worked very well with our food. Very good.
Il Porto de Ripetta. A small, but somewhat cramped seafood specialist with very good food and attentive service. We began with a plate with two tartars (seabass and prawn) and one of Rome’s springtime specialties: fried baby artichoke with ricotta and black pepper. (The seabass tartare was, by far, our favorite.) We then shared a very good homemade pasta with seabass and clams, with a bottle of 2016 Frascati Superiore from Eremo Tusclano. Our only fault with the restaurant was our server, who tried too hard to push us toward specific dishes and wines.
Da Enza. A perpetually busy Trastavere restaurant with very good food and very reasonable prices. We shared first courses of rigatoni carbonara with guanciale, rigatoni sugo with tomato sauce, oxtail, celery, raisons, pine nuts and pecorino, followed by grilled lamb chops (the least exciting of the dishes) and finished with mascarpone cheese custard with wild strawberries. Wine was a 2014 Paterno sangiovese from Lazio. This place deserves its fine reputation. Fortunately our host made reservations for us in advance so that we didn’t have to stand in line to wait for a table.
Ristorante Santa Lucia. We had lunch at a lovely, upscale, outdoor patio off Piazza Navona and away from the long strips of restaurants with seemingly identical menus. We began with a wonderful octopus carpaccio with potato, julienned celery and black olives, followed by two main dishes: tasty beef meatballs in tomato sauce (although we tend to prefer a beef/lamb/pork mixture) and a nice selection of lightly fried, small fishes. It was, however, pretty expensive and surprisingly offered only one white and one red wine by the glass.
I Vascerellari. A casual, neighborhood spot with serviceable food. Porchetta with rosemary was very tasty, although it was at least half fat. Pastas were mixed. Spaghetti with clams were nice, but quite heavy in garlic. Pasta with tomato sauce, crispy pig cheek and pecorino was tasty, although both pastas were done a bit more than we prefer. WE had these dishes with a bottle of 2016 Ascheri Langhe Nebbiolo from Piemonte. Pretty good, but we wouldn’t rush back.
Ai Marmi. One of the best, and absolutely the busiest pizzerias we have ever tried. It opens at 7:00 PM and by 7:30, the roughly 150-person outside space is filled, with people waiting for a table. The roughly 100 inside seats fill shortly thereafter. By 8:30, all tables are filled and a few dozen people are still waiting. Although there are certainly people in the backroom prepping ingredients, making side dishes and washing dishes, the front has 2.5 people behind the counter (one making pizzas, one manning the oven and one plating when each batch of about 15 pizzas at a time comes out of the oven and three servers. And everybody (especially the pizza maker and one of the servers) works at a frenetic pace, but with perfectly honed precision. And by the way, they make some of the best pizza we ever ate. So good that we broke one of our cardinal travel rules by returning to the same restaurant twice. Both times we began with a large serving melon and Parma ham followed by one shared pizza (in contrast with virtually everyone else who has their own full pie). The first night, we loved the tomato, mozzarella, sausage and mushroom pizza: the second visit, the tomato, mozzarella, Parma ham, mushroom, artichoke and egg. The wine selection is modest, but pretty good. One night a bottle of 2015 Antonori Santa Christina and the second night we had a 2013 Granaic Chianti Classico chianti, both from Tuscany).
Fiammette Tratoria. A neighborhood spot off Piazza Navona where we had two decent, but not especially memorable dishes: picci with Pecorino, pepper and a cream sauce, and saltimbocca along with a half carafe of Vino Rosso di Marino.
Grana Café Cavour. A Piazza Venezia-area spot where we shared a snack of melon and Parma ham and fried calamari and prawns with a half carafe of unnamed white wine.
Antica Caciara. While this is not a restaurant, we wanted to also spotlight our friendly, neighborhood (Trastevere) cheese and charcuterie shop where we got snacks of Coroallina salami, Canastrano Romano cheese and bread. The people there were very patient with tourists and were fine with us only wanting small amounts of cheese, charcuterie and bread.