High points obviously depend on one’s own mood and hunger, the weather, and normal variations that accompany all but the most consistent restaurants. I post this report as our take on some recent Rome choices, most of which I took from the Chowhound printout I carried with me.
We (DH and me – in our mid-60s—on leisurely vacation) rented an apartment right off Campo and ate terrific frutta e verdura that I shopped for early in the morning from the same vendor each day – like a real Italian householder. We ate warm focaccia or pizza bianca from Forno Campo de’ Fiori at odd times of the day, whenever we passed by. With the local bakery, the market stalls, and a batch of lentils I made, we ate very well at home.
One street food highlight was a sandwich made right in front of us from the freshest bread and a slice of a roast pig, the pig having been recently delivered warm from south of Rome to a Saturday vendor on a side street somewhere between the west side of the Pantheon and Campo. I think Via Torre Argentina or Via Rotonda. Maybe locals know exactly where to find it. In our gluttony, we failed to notice precisely or note whether Saturday is the only day.
We ate lunch twice at Piperno – the first was excellent. We split the famous artichokes. I adored the HANDMADE pasta, specially requested with only oil and cheese that I added myself. DH had HANDMADE pasta with tasty slightly spicy tomato sauce. Loved the crème brulee and the wild raspberries in lemon sauce. We liked Piperno so much we went back the next day to host Italian friends. Not so good the second day. My biggest disappointment was that I did not pay attention to “handmade” vs. “homemade” on the pasta menu. All the pasta dishes are labeled “homemade” but “handmade” pasta is a subset. I split an order of perfectly good angel hair with a spicy tomato sauce but not nearly as special as the handmade pasta from the first lunch. (Had I been passing by the dining room at 11:00 AM I am told that I would have seen the pasta maker rolling out dough on the dining tables as she has been doing for 45 years.) Friend’s ravioli was delicious. Side of asparagus was memorably fresh-tasting and buttery. My lamb chops were ok but for 30 Euros, I was less impressed. DH’s veal was only ok. Piperno was out of the crème brulee this second day, though the fruit tart was not bad—though it was obviously the same tart that was served at lunch the previous day. Grandfather’s balls (cheese) were amusing at the time but unmemorable—at least I don’t remember them. I more clearly remember the appetizer of fried cheese. Without service, first lunch for two was 83 Euros with two glasses of house wine; lunch for four was 208 Euros with a bottle of not so special wine. (While we were there in mid-May, Euro hovered between 1.55 and 1.60 in USD.) Our fellow diners were about half American and and half Italian—Roman businessmen at lunch?
We had fun at Trattoria Monti – as we did in a trip a year ago. This time (as last time) was Sunday lunch and we were welcomed as “regulars” since I had given them a hard copy of Bruni’s review to replace their own internet printout and they remembered. After warning me on the phone Sat. night that they only had a shared table left to reserve, when we arrived they found a table for four for the two of us. Some mix up in orders ensued, which I did not take personally—even the errors came with “ease and grace” that Bruni notes. We split the delicious onion flan and I had the ravioli with egg and DH had lasagne. He had pork and I had a vegetarian eggplant entrée. Lunch w/o service was 86 Euros including the 24 Euro bottle of Verdicchio Classico dei Castelli di Jesi "Vigna delle Oche" classico riserva – San Lorenzo 2004 –which we drank almost every drop.
We had dinner at Antica Trattoria Trilussa (Via Di Ponte Sisto, 80) where we were welcomed with a glass of prosecco as regulars from our last year’s visit. (First time walk-ins were not so favored.) DH had excellent lasagne; I had what I remembered as delectable, the pasta fatta, which is HANDMADE. But after being served something too gluey for my taste, I remembered that last year I had ordered just oil and cheese and a few cherry tomatoes. Looking at what I choose to order, I suppose the simplest most perfect ingredients please me most. We split lamb chops, a glass or two of house wine, a salad, and a delicious strawberry mousse for dessert. 62 Euros.
A late night pizza dinner near Campo after a long day at Ristorante S. Anna, Via di S. Anna, 8/9 was pleasant enough and served its purpose. Not so the one disaster which came from fatigue. Hungry and tired on the one cold rainy day, we stumbled down our stairs and on to the Piazza Campo looking for an early something to eat sitting down (not take out). Without looking at my chowhound list, I just chose a relatively lively outside place because it had a heat lamp. We ordered pizza. It was worse than frozen pizza from the supermarket. I hadn’t noticed that no one was eating – just having a drink before they moved on to dinner. The upside was that left room for delicious ice cream at Giolitti.
So three restaurant dinners and three restaurant lunches and that is the story of our eating for 6 days in Rome. Lots of walking in a beautiful city, the right amount of food, lots of pleasure.