We had a fantastic trip...even with all the hoopla going on at St. Peter's. We were on the square when the white smoke emerged and when Pope Francis was introduced. More importantly to this site....we didn't have a bad meal. Some better than others...but none bad.
Our hotel was near the Pantheon....Albergo Cesari. Great breakfast spead....pastries, meats, cheeses, fruits, cereals, yogurts, coffee, tea, etc. One of the front desk guys, Tomasso, seemed to be a real chowhound and was very helpful.
In many places we were the only non-Italians. Every server we had was friendly and helpful. Language was only a bit of a barrier at a few of the restaurants. We ate artichokes in just about every conceivable way. I didn't like pantarelle as much as I thought I would. We went for gelato every day at Frigidarium (obviously our favorite) and tried every conceivable combonation. I did not want to leave Rome. EVER.
Lunch: Osteria dell'Ingegno
Highlight: Husband's antipasi plate of smoked buffalo mozzarella, marinated artichokes, and prosciutto.
My eldest and I liked our alla grigia with artichokes and mint (a combo I'm going to try at home), but thought the pasta was just a titch overdressed.
Supper: Ristorante Nino (We had reservations and definitely needed them.)
Loved this place! I'd read some comments about the waiters not being very friendly, but ours was lovely.
Highlights: Eldest's favorite secondi of the trip...the roasted lamb & potatoes. The bean soup was to die for....and I'm not overly fond of beans. My husband had the veal meatballs, which was one of his favorites of the trip.
Lunch: Took the tram down to Cesare al Casaletto. I had been a bit nervous about the trek down there, but it was easy. You can see the restaurant right from the tracks. (We had reservations and most definitely needed them.)
Highlights: Oh. My. God. The fried Gnocchi in a cacio e pepe fondue. Oh, yes....worth the trip just for those alone. My carpaccio was divine.
This was the place we probably had the most difficulty with the langauge barrier. It was also only our third meal of the trip and we hadn't quite got in to the swing of asking the right questions about what to order. Everyone around us (all Italian families) looked to be ordering the clam dish. I would definitely revisit this chaming little trattoria.
Supper: Da Francesca (sp?) near Piaaza Navona
We were going to head to Li Rioni, however, we were exhausted and wanted to stick fairly close to home. Tomasso, our front desk guy, directed us to Da Francesca.
Highlights: Husband's black truffle pizza. Our seat close to the oven where we could see the cook in action. He was really moving and kept his work place so clean. We also had a parmigiana antipasti that was not on menu but that Tomasso told us to order. Molten cheese and sauce...delish.
Perfecto! Loved, loved, loved this place. The kids and I got the mixed antipasti plates. Husband got the vegetarian antipasi plate. Both were fantastic. Plenty of meats and veggies on the combo plates. Little white anchovies that I could eat every day. We also ordered and split an artichoke dish that was kinda like an omelette, I'm not sure what the heck it was, but I wanted my own....did not want to share. I thought this place would be a bit touristy....not at all. It was a perfect luch place after a morning spent over at the Colosseum, Forum, and Palantine Hill.
Supper: Nonna Betta (This was also recommended by Tomasso along with Giggetto, but we couldn't find Giggetto. Saw the well marked restaurant front with a "we've moved" sign but couldn't actually find it. Will try harder next time.)
Nonna Betta was a nice little place. The batter fried vegetables and fried artichokes were the hit of the night....heck they were a favorite of the whole trip. We had very, very good service here. Also a place they were particularly good with our kids (teenagers)...gently teasing them in a very charming way.
Spent a good part of the late morning/early afternoon drinking coffee and eating pastries under the awning at Rosati in the Piazza del Popolo. It was a rainy day, but fun for people watching.
Lunch: Il Matriciana
Another great meal. Love their version of Amatriciana. The fried artichoke was almost as good as Nonna Bettas was the night before. My scaloppa alla valdostana was my favorite of the trip. The service here was top notch.
Exhaustion kicked in...so husband ran out for sandwiches and an antipasti plate.
Lunch: L'asino D'oro
What a fabulous deal! Thirteen Euro fixed price menu.
Amuse Bouche of chicory (i think), pecorino cheese and chocolate. A weird combo that knocked it out of the park.
A small bowl of Cauliflower Soup with a drizzle of olive oil. So warm and velvety.
A ricotta cheese and broccolli lasagna. Your fork melted right through it. I need to find this recipe.
Ending with Fuso di Pollo alla Pizzaiola. So tender and tasty.
Highly recommend this place and wish I had a place like this close to home. My notes say "a real cool and jazzy vibe".
I loved the Monti area and wish we had more time to explore, but we headed to St. Peter's Square to witness history instead.
Well.....we had reservations at Renato e Luisa. But they lost them and had a private party there. We were very disapointed but the owner himself could not have been more gracious in apologizing. We do not hold it against them at all. It smelled delicious and I would not hesitate to try again our next trip.
We headed towards a place we liked last time we were in Rome (June of 2009)...Ciccia Bomba. I must say this was not our favorite meal of the trip, but we were so punch drunk from our hours at St. Peter's that it WAS one of our more memorable meals. Lots of laughing.
Sixth and final day:
Lunch; We wandered mapless and found this little corner shop with pizza and the best pastries in the world. Grabbed some soda pop and a bench and had a great little lunch. I have no idea where we were. It was next to a Volpetti store but not the main one. I think it said Antico Forno on the outside. I don't know. I'll I DO know is that I had a Bocconincinni (sp?) dell Nonno pastry that was one of the best things I've ever ate. Covered in almonds with some sort of filling. Oh God, I want one now!
Supper: Armando al Pantheon (We had reservations and definitely needed them as several people were turned away at the door.)
This was just a very lovely meal. Service was very professional.
Highlights: Husband's truffled bruschetta (He ordered anything with truffles in it). Our favorite all gricia of the trip. Coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail) was most excellent (we reserved this prior to our visit), and eldest's arbacchio alla scottaditta was the best of the trip, as well.
There are still dozens and dozens of places we want to try, The plan plan for our third trip (whenever that may be) is to rent an apartment for a month. Can't wait.