First off, thanks to everyone on this board for your great insights and recommendations. Here’s a recap of our wonderful spring vacation in Rome and Florence. A word of caution though. We intentionally leaned towards more modern and ‘international’ restaurants on this trip. So if you are looking for thoughts on places like Giggetto, Paris, Felice, and such, this is not the post for that. Also, we tried to mix low cost and high brow, but because we were celebrating a milestone birthday, the places turned out to be on the more expensive side. In fact, some dinners turned out to be cheaper than the lunches LOL. Lastly, there will be several parts to this post. Again, thank you all for your great suggestions.
LUNCH IN ROME
I have not been to Rome in 2 years, and seems like the antipasti buffet trend is really flourishing. In 3 of the 4 places we went to, all offer a buffet. For some, the buffet is the only option. Also, seems there is a proliferation of wine bars that serve serious food, instead of just nibbles.
Via del Teatro Valle 48-49, 06-686-4045, www.casableve.it
This was a nice and relaxing way to start our first day in Rome. We had just arrived and settled in our apartment. A short walk, and through the wine store, you end up in this magnificent room in a former palazzo. It is definite dressy and expensive. About 90% of the customers that day were male, and looks like they are on expense account. The buffet is set up on the counter against one wall. There is a selection of wines by the glass. Some standouts are a marinated ricotta salata, puntarelle salad, grilled zucchini, and an array of salumi. Make sure to look at the refrigerator case at the end of the counter. We didn’t notice it at first, and by the time we did, there was absolutely no room to get the smoked fish, salads, and tuna we saw. The buffet alone is 25 euro. With glasses of wine, water, cuperto, etc, it could add up.
Via dei Prefetti 26a, 06-683-2630, www.obika.it
This is part of the international chain of mozzarella bars. There is also a second, smaller location at Campo de Fiori. It is a very stylish and modern place. It is a bit less expensive than Casa Bleve. Of course, mozzarella reigns here. There is also an extensive selection of frittata, grilled veggies, a few pastas, and a sort of a baked rice dish with pesto and globs of mozzarella. There are also many selections on the dessert bar.
@ the Hotel de Russie Roma, Via del Babuino 9, 06-328-881, www.hotelderussie.it
The bar has a very luxurious courtyard with verdant lemon trees. It was a great place for us to while away the afternoon. The hotel is very sleek and chic, and the food is priced to match. They also had a lunch buffet @ 36 euro, but we opted to order a la carte. When you order drinks, they bring little plates of olives, potato chips, and other veggie chips. I had the maccheroni all amatriciana. Purists might cringe since it had prosciutto instead of guanciale. It was a pleasant surprise for me though, as the prosciutto lend the pasta a milder, delicate taste.
Via dei Giubbonari 21-22, 06-687-5287, www.anticofornoroscioli.com
Note that the restaurant is part of the salumeria/wine bar. It is not the bakery, which is a little further up the street. We sat in the front room right in front of the cheese case, which is an experience unto itself. They had a selection of artisanal beer, and we decided to sample a few. Italy is now having a movement with craft beers, and we got one from Piedmont and another from Lazio. To start, we got a plate of lardo. Not for the faint of heart. I’ve only had lardo in pizza or as an accompaniment on a dish. The plate of sliced fat they brought was definitely trippy. We had the spaghettone alla carbonara. I can see why it was voted best by Gambero Rosso. The pasta was very al dente, the sauce is thick and gooey, and the guanciale crispy and airy. The dish was sprinkled with a mixture of grated cheese and cracked pepper. I’ll try that when I make pasta carbonara at home. We also had the special pasta of the day, which was a linguine with clams, asparagus, and bottarga. The sauce is equally thick like the carbonara, but the taste of the clam and fish roe took us to the beach on a hot day.