My husband and I just returned in Rome where we spent 4 days there. Yes, it was just 4 days - he was there for work and I joined for a long weekend. It was also a slightly belated one year anniversary celebration which is meaningful because last Nov we spent 2 weeks in Italy for our honeymoon, of which about 5 nights were in Rome. But anyways...a few highlights of where we ate:
Ristorante Vladimiro - this was just a few minutes from our hotel (Hotel Eden) and picked because my husband was flying in from another city and got in on the late side. So we picked somewhere close because he had been traveling for the previous 4 days and didn't want to stray too far. I found just one mention of this restaurant on CH and normally would have been wary but it was posted by someone who I've seen make many good recs before. We were very happy with our meal here. We had the spaghetti carbonara (great) and the tagliolini al limone (also great) for our primi and then shared the filet in barolo sauce which was nicely prepared. Also ordered a side of roasted potatoes. Not sure what happens in Europe but every single time we have potatoes they have been terrific. Finished with lemon sorbet for dessert. Had a bottle of their house red too. The bill was about 65 euros total.
Antico Arco - this was our favorite meal of the trip, we absolutely loved everything about it. Service was impeccable. We were seated upstairs but it did not seem like purgatory which I got the sense from other posts that it might be. A few English speaking customers but otherwise the rest were Italians. Started with a glass of prosecco and we shared the octopus with artichokes to begin and it was amazing. Octopus was cooked exactly how you want it to be and not chewy in the least. Then we had the puttanesca with cubes of tuna, also terrific, and the risotto with nebbiolo sauce which was creamy and delicious. Since we each had our own pasta, the server brought us a small dish of the other person's pasta which we thought was a cute touch. Next, we shared the pigeon breast which was also incredible - neither of us have had pigeon before so we were curious to try it. It was seared and rare and reminded us a lot of duck breast which we love, and we were so happy with it. For dessert we had what was like a lemongrass creme brulee with apple crumble. For wine we had a bottle of San Leonardo 2004 which was recommended by the server and it paired very well with all of our courses. My husband ended the meal with a whiskey and I had an Averna amaro - I had fallen in love with that drink when we were on our honeymoon. Our dinner there was 3 hours and we loved every minute of it. Total bill was around 170 euros.
Hostaria Romana - so I was curious about the NYT trattoria article awhile back and liked the sound of this place. It was about a 5 minute walk from our hotel and we ate there on our last night. Turns out it was quite good though if I returned I probably would just get antipasti and pasta - partly because we realized that eating 3 courses, even though some are shared is way too much food for us day after day. We started with the antipasti della casa so we could select from what was laid out and we enjoyed roasted vegetables, mozzerella and the best of all which were these lemony sardines. We missed the artichokes - they were on a different counter and we weren't sure if they were for the taking so that was our ignorance. Then we each had the carbonara and it was excellent, better than Vladimiro. For our main we shared the grilled fish which was cooked well with sides of potatoes (very good) and spinach (a bit overdone). We shared the tiramisu for dessert but honestly we were so full. With house wine and water, the bill was about 75 euros.
The other meals to mention were just okay - one of which I hesitate to mention since it gets such good feedback on the board - we had a dinner at La Campana and it was good but we didn't think it was all that great. Maybe it was what we ordered, I'm not sure but we found it to be lacking a bit. We had the arancini, fettucinini with mushrooms, cacio e pepe, beef with peppercorns and balsamic (beef was a little tough but the sauce was incredible) and yes more potatoes plus spinach. I think the meal was about 60-65 euros total.
The other meal we had was at il Margutta for their Sunday brunch. We were curious about the brunch since it was vegetarian and we needed a place where we weren't tempted to get meat, so decided to check it out. The brunch buffet had a nice selection, the best was a farro soup but otherwise it was just okay and pricey (25 euro a person).
For future visitors the best advice I can offer is make reservations. We saw a few people turned away at the trattorias we went to. We didn't have to make them far in advance, our hotel made them for us and calling the day of was sufficient except for Antico Arco where we reserved a few days in advance to make sure we got the time/date we wanted. We ate most of our meals later - the earliest was 8pm but mostly we went around 9. We're used to eating dinner late like that at home (we're in NYC) so it didn't feel unusual there.
All in all we had a great time returning to Rome. The only place where I wished we ate at again was Osteria Sostengo which I don't see much chatter about and we stumbled upon it last time - we stayed near the Pantheon so it was very close. We had 2 excellent meals there. I regret not writing a trip report but after the wedding and honeymoon, we were exhausted and needed a break! Hopefully we will spend many more anniversaries in Italy...