My husband and I just returned from a week in Rome, where we ate our way through the city. Below is a bit about some of the places we went, what we ate, and how we felt about our choices. I hope it provides some valuable guidance to those of you planning a trip to this wonderful city!
Hits for Lunch:
1) Enoteca Corsi on Via del Gesu: Family owned and operated, Enoteca Corsi is open only for lunch and produces classic Italian fare with aplomb. Their fettucini with tomato and basil was perfection in its simplicity, and their mozzarella is creamy and tender just like it should be. We returned on the Friday of our visit - during Lent, so seafood dominated the menu- and had linguine pescatore (with cod, squid, octopus) and bacala with potatoes. Both were fantastic. Service cannot be beat. The one waitress, Sara, is attentive and kind, even though she is waiting a restaurant full of hungry Italians! This is simple fare that we enjoyed with jugs of their house wine - nothing fancy, but by far and away the best lunch we had in Rome.
2) Antico Forno Roscioli near Campo de'Fiori: We ate our best pizza in all of Rome here. Our favorite is the white pizza with the little yellow and red grape tomatoes. You can also purchase a loaf of their fresh bread and some salami or prosciutto and have them put it together into a sandwich for you. Either way, a fantastic lunch on the go.
Miss for Lunch:
Otello alla Concordia near the Spanish Steps: Our guidebook had called this one of the most reliable places in Rome. We found the food clumsy. The pasta e fagioli was too thick and mushy, and the zucchini blossoms were drowned in batter, destroying their delicate texture and flavor. Service was quite good, but not worth a wasted lunch in Rome!
Hits for Dinner:
1) Armando al Pantheon: Our dinner here was so good that, again, we returned for our last night in Rome. The pastas are very fresh. The amatriciana was divine. The servers are friendly and made us feel as comfortable as their regulars. The best part of our meal was the ricotta torte we shared - cornmeal cake with a filling of ricotta and strawberry jam, blanketed in powdered sugar. We actually ordered two slices on our last night because one was not enough. You MUST try Armando!!
2) Da Fortunato: This is definitely a place to see and be seen, so there is a fair degree of condescension if one isn't a regular. It's still worth a trip if you don't mind sticking your own chin in the air in response! Don't let them seat you in the back room. They will try it if you are a tourist - request a table in the front room with the Romans. We did, and it made all the difference. All of this is preamble to the real news, which is that the food is divine. Among other things, we had prosciutto and melon, gnocchi with tomato and basil, veal piccata, and wild strawberries with gelato. Each course was beautiful. The gnocchi were the best we have had.
3) Colline Emiliane: This place is worth the trip just for the proscuitto. While you're there, though, don't miss the tagliatelle bolognese, which is incredibly delicate, or the blueberry tart, if they've made it that day. What the place lacks in atmosphere (it's small and a bit cramped, and the tables are tombstoned) it makes up for in phenomenal food.
Miss for Dinner:
Ditirambo: Called the "quintessential trattoria" by some, we found it to be merely average. Our food was over-salted, and my branzino was inexpertly doused with an over-thick artichoke ragout, eliminating the delicate flavor of the fish. We did try the pear and pignoli tart with hot fudge for dessert, and it was transporting. They also poured a glass of limoncello at the end of the meal that was the best we had during our trip. I would not return, though, in light of the disappointment of our first two courses.
Hits for Snacks:
GELATO - San Crispino near the Pantheon (better by far than Giolitti) Make sure you get the panna (whipped cream) on top, and try the pistachio, our favorite.
COOKIES and PASTRY - Forno Campo de'Fiori - get the amaretti with pignoli on top and the apricot shortbread cookies.
COFFEE - We disagree here. My husband prefers Sant Eustachio, and I prefer Tazza d'Oro. We do agree that the latter makes the better cappucino. The former produces an espresso with incredible crema, which is what won over my espresso-loving husband, but be aware that they put quite a bit of sugar into the coffee if you do not ask that they hold it. The croissants at Tazza d'Oro are far better, as is the fresh blood orange juice.
Thanks for reading. Buon Appetito!