Thank you all who helped me in giving opinions and advice on the many restaurants in Rome. Because of various rescheduling issues we did vary from our original restaurant itinerary. Overall we found the food very good and more reasonable than what was expected. By this point in our itinerary we were feeling a bit overdone in the pasta and heavy food department and would have loved some lighter, less carb heavy foods, especially raw vegetables.
Our first night was at Le Mani in Pasta in Trastevere. Overall enjoyable, had tagliatelle with white truffle. Something I was hoping to be able to enjoy in Italy, but knew I was past prime season. Like all Italian pastas it was simple yet delicious. We also enjoyed fresh Sicilian red prawns, that were served whole, these were so sweet, it was like eating lobster, nice to have the head still on so we could try the head meat too. Our service was decent and the restaurant was enjoyable with a window to the kitchen. Definitely more boisterous and perhaps more tourists than in other restaurants we went to, but I did not feel it was touristy. Prices were reasonable and wine recommendation was good. I did feel we were not given the whole menu of daily specials but I spoke on this on another thread.
Next day we ate at Pizzarium for lunch. What a treat, some of the best we had, if not the best. Everything from the crust to the varied toppings was perfect. I had an artichoke, goat cheese and mortadello pizza, which was delightful but a bit heavy as the artichoke was actually a puree and very liberal with it. I preferred the lighter tomato based pizzas that my SO ordered. We did find this pricey for the size you get and the fact that it is really take out only.
That evening was dinner in the Jewish ghetto at Piperno. I was planning on this being our more expensive meal of Rome and it probably was. The fried items are fantastic, but heavy and tough to follow up with a main course (for me at least) and quite pricey for the amount you get. We had the fried artichoke and squash blossoms, both were perfectly fried and seasoned, the squash were filled with ricotta, very decadent. Next I had la vignarola which was a bit of a let down for me. I was expecting fresh, green and al dente vegetables, it really was a stew. The flavours were enjoyable, but to me it was just overcooked vegetables, it kind of turned me off on trying it elsewhere as the overcooked vegetable seems to be the norm in Italy. I really should have skipped a main as I barely got through a third of my white fish (not sure what kind), which was well flavoured, but very oily and heavy with its artichokes and a fried potato crust. It took a few blocks of walking before I could consider gelato....
The next day we had lunch at L'asino d'oro. This was a real treat, first because it was the first sunny day and they have a cute little patio space, but mainly because of the food and value. The food here stands our above all our meals in Rome for being innovative and young feeling (everywhere else we went was very traditional) They have a 12euro 3 course set lunch menu with wine and water, plus an amuse bouche. The starter was a carrot soup, which really helped my cravings for a vegetable taste. Second was a delicate cannelloni filled with ricotta. Sounds pedestrian, but their handmade pasta (I assume), made all the difference. Best pasta we had in Rome. 3rd was an eggplant lasagna, enjoyable, but eggplant is not my favorite. My only complaint was that they were not open on Sunday so we could come back for dinner and ordering off the menu was not an option. Also the service was fairly snooty.
The evening was supposed to take us to an enoteca, but after sitting our at Piazza Navona to enjoy the sun and some prosecco, we found we were interested in a meal. We didn't have reservations, but used Eat Rome to search out a place to go around the Campo di Fiori or Piazza Navona. Unfortunately our first 2 choices were full (Roscioli and another that I can't recall). Ended up at Costanza. Definitely the most touristy of all places we went to, and the ambiance was not as nice in the room we were in compared to the main room. Service was good, if not a little over the top. Food was enjoyable, as we opted for only 2 courses, one carbonara and one amatriciana, both enjoyable, but the bucatini was too al dente for me, in fact I would probably say it was undercooked, probably should have sent it back. Sauces were nice on each. Price was moderate to inexpensive.
Our last big meal was Sunday lunch at Flavio in Testaccio. Probably favorite meal in Rome. The carbonara was amazing, with the guanciale being so melty and luscious and the cacio e pepe was just what I had hoped it would be, fresh, bright and flavourful. Service was pleasant, the outdoor seating in the sun was perfect and the place was packed with boisterous Italian families. I felt like I was peeking in on a true Roman tradition of Sunday lunch with the family. Price was moderate.
Some other places we tried that need mentioning:
Ma chi siete venuti a fa in Trastevere, tiny, kinda smelly beer pub with an amazing array of local and international artisan beers. The milk stout is a must.
Fior di Luna in Trastevere, best gelato we tried in Rome, you can tell this is made with care and finesse. The girls at the counter were very friendly.
Bar San Calisto in Trastevere, best cornettos in Rome that we tried (overall the cornettos were much better in Rome than in the rest of Italy) and really great coffee.
Gelateria Corona, near Argentina tram station: great sorbetto with strawberry and basil
Testaccio market: an enjoyable trip to see all the beautiful local fresh fruit and vegetables, we enjoyed buying and eating the fresh shelled peas and admiring the shellfish and whole fish the mongers were hawking. Oh the meals I could cook if I had access to fresh food like this all year round!
Regarding the coffee which is something I was looking forward to, over all I was underwhelmed, I tried many recommended places including the big ones Sant 'Eustaccio and Tazza d'Oro. I liked the atmosphere at these places as it was what I pictured in my mind, pushy, lined up and loud. But preferred the coffee at some of the smaller places. In fact the best one was a small bar around the corner from our B&B on Viale di Trastevere, that I forgot to get the name of and only tried on the morning we left Rome unfortunately. It was also the only one I saw in all of the places in Italy that we went that had a lever pull instead of push button, something that over here is held in high regard by coffee aficionados. But I have to admit, and my local coffee shop will be happy to hear this, Phil & Sebastion in Calgary, AB Canada is better coffee. I was really shocked.
Again thank you to all those that helped me decide my trip, it was truly influenced in a positive way by all the people that post on this board.