So this was a week of 8 nights therefore 8 dinners with my husband. No more dining solo. These restaurants were mostly on the Chowhound 'greatest hits' list so I will not go into great detail except where I think it is necessary - ie, interesting for whatever reason.
Overall: I can't say that in a month (albeit with 2 weeks of that month being restricted to solo dining options) we had a single GREAT meal. We had some lovely meals with some individually lovely food but every meal was uneven in some way. This inconsistency surprised me.
I suffered from what I have termed 'foodie tourist anxiety' as I was both making my list and working/eating my way through it. What if there was a better restaurant down the road, recommended by someone else? Should I be going for repeat visits to a restaurant that isn't favoured by all the writers/critics? Was I missing anything vital? If I didn't like something that everyone else did, had I chosen badly? Or did I not know enough about food?!
Then there is the tension between good food (or 'good enough food') and atmosphere. In my kitchen at home, I'm a pretty good cook. Most of the food we ate I can replicate (although not necessarily with the same quality of ingredients and certainly not at the same cost if I want that quality) without a great deal of effort. But I can't create 'being in Rome' and if the atmosphere was right, then I tended to discount the vagaries of the food. The better the atmosphere the better the food tended to taste. Atmosphere for me is a whole lot of things: welcoming staff, pleasant, comfortable decor - modern, quirky, old style tratt, whatever - attentive but not over the top service, a good number of locals present and clearly enjoying themselves. Outdoors is good if it's available but not necessary. The restaurants I re-visited tended to fit the atmosphere brief nicely and to have food that was more even and consistent across three courses.
The most memorable meal was at Pierluigi. The setting was gorgeous, film set Rome; the service was absolutely spot on; the food was good (not great); and they helped us choose a lovely Franciacorta to go with it. Yes, it was expensive (250 euros) but we had three courses each and the overall meal was worth every cent.
In summary (across the four weeks) others that we really liked and would recommend without hesitation:
- Trattoria Monti
- Roscioli (two visits)
- La Gensola (two visits)
Those we think are worth going to if you're in the area (but not a trip across town):
- Taverna dei Fiori Imperiali (two visits)
- L' Asino D'Oro
We missed out on a reservation at Armando which was my fault for being disorganised. We ended up at Agata e Romeo which unfortunately was the strangest meal of the trip. The room was lovely but on a Saturday night it was half empty (our booking was at 9pm) and the owner kept pacing the room and watching the wait staff like a hawk so much so that it felt uncomfortable. The sauce of the cacio e pepe was the best of the trip but the pasta was not fresh which was a let down. The mains were a pleasant veal with mushrooms (very small portion) and a cod tasting plate which was fine, but no sides were offered or available. (Maybe I missed them?) The lemon mousse turned out to be a cheesecake, never a favourite of mine. The very limited menu would have been fine if the quality was exceptional but it wasn't. The wine list didn't match the prices of the food - it was hard to find a decent bottle under 50 euros.
All in all, I've had a lovely month. Two of the highlights were the wine tastings we did at Vinoroma - not to be missed! We learned so much from Hande.
And yes, Pizzarium IS worth the trek across town. We ate there twice. Other pizzas we had - Le Carette and Li Rioni, both in Monti - were good but not exceptional but both were lovely neighbourhood spots.
Our favourite bars in Monti were Tre Scalini and Al Vino Al Vino, both buzzy, friendly places.