Well my lovely chowhounds, I have just come to the end of my first week here in Rome. It was initially so overwhelming, I can't imagine how people can visit in a few short days and not leave absolutely reeling!
I am settled nicely in my neighbourhood of Monti and I apologise in advance if this and subsequent posts is very Monti-centric, but there is so much good food around here! But we are trying to get out and about too....my husband was only here for 3 days but he will be back again in about 10. In between I am going to stick fairly closely to the 'hood though.
So.....the first couple of nights (when I was alone) were a washout, food wise because the places I had tentatively book marked were still closed. So I made some fairly ordinary local choices, which weren't disastrous but don't need to be written about here.
Night 3 was Antico Arco. We were a bit surprised to find it located out of the main hub of Trastevere....up on the hill.....we would have liked to have a bit of wander around afterwards but we wouldn't have known how to navigate down without getting lost (we had no data on our phones at that point, this is now solved.)
AA was nice. The space itself is lovely and modern. We were greeted, seated and treated with the utmost of kindness and respect. We were ably assisted to choose a great wine - a 2004 Barolo, worth every bit of the 60 euros it cost. The meal was not as good as I was anticipating though. The carbonara was gluggy and a bit light on the porky bits. The shaved truffle was almost tasteless. The other pasta was IMO much more successful - ravioli filled with fish in a very intense reduced matriciana sauce. Very tasty. Mains were lamb and beef, cooked very similarly and a bit boring. Spinach side was OK. We couldn't fit in dessert. Bill was 186 euros.
Night 4 was Roscioli. Booking at 9.30pm. It was buzzing when we got there but we were seated quickly and without fuss. Again, the service was excellent and very helpful. We were directed to a lovely lambrusco that was an absolute bargain at 18 euros. It changed my mind about this style of wine! Once again, the carbonara failed to impress me. I have now decided that this is probably just ME. I don't like the style. Back home, I commit the heinous crime of adding a bit of cream to mine and this is what I am missing here I think. I thought that maybe the way they used eggs would deliver creaminess, but not so, at least so far. The other pasta we had was more successful, smallish shapes (sorry I can't remember what they were called) with pesto and - quite strangely but it worked - pieces of fried calamari. Mains were fantastic - lamb chops and polpette (melted in the mouth, how do they do it???) and excellent side of spinach. Passed on dessert once again. 103 euros. Have booked to go back in 10 days time and will probably go there at least 3 times this trip.
Night 5 was Flavio al Velavedotto. I approached this one with some caution, as there seems to be a lot of mixed opinions, but it was Sunday night and our options were relatively limited. Well, we loved it! Nice outdoor seating on a beautiful warm night. Once again, excellent service despite our limited Italian! We were pasta-ed out by this stage so decided to have a plate of prosciutto (delicious) and split a caccio e pepe. Well, what a revelation that was...I wasn't expecting to like it because of my aversion to carbonara, but it was creamy, and bitey and the pasta was fresh and cooked perfectly to my taste (a dente, but not too much). I could have scoffed the whole bowl. For mains we had cod fritters - the batter was exceptionally light, the fish tasted very fresh. Also chicken cacciatore - lovely big pieces of nicely braised chicken. With some fried zucchini with mint. The insalata misto was average. No dessert. Oh, and another bottle of that lovely lambrusco. 81 euros.
Night 6 - I was by myself again and in need of a bit of spice so I hit up Sitar in the main drag of Monti. It was surprisingly edible, but it just felt - weird!
Night 7 - Taverna dei Imperiali - by myself but they made me feel extremely welcome. I had booked and that was a good idea. It was jumping on a Wednesday night. Lots of (foodie) tourist and locals too, a nice mix. I had the burrata ravioli with pesto, which was very nice, although the pasta was probably a bit thicker than I usually like it. And the grilled octopus warm salad special - this was divine. Plus a glass of prosecco and a nice glass of (recommended) red - 37 euros.
Other observations: I have had excellent coffee in Monti....I ate at Forno Campo de' Fiori for lunch twice - their paninis are spectacular. I have popped into Volpetti for picnic provisions (expensive but nice) and wandered around Roscioli deli (up near Termini) but it was so crowded and a bit intimidating with no italian so I am going to try again at a quieter time, because their take home food looked delicious.
Sorry for the length but there's a lot to write about!! I love this city :))