Hello and thanks to everyone whose advice (j.k. chuck, etc.) I took on our recent trip to Rome over Thanksgiving...Here are some observations and some other possible discoveries:
You can probably eat thousands of Roman meals without ever having to eat an intestine or eyeball, so not to worry...even vegetarians will have no problems...artichokes, puntarelle, ciccoria, cacio, et. al. And nowhere else can you eat so well for so little money.
sora margherita -pza cinque scole - still there, but it's now a "private club," which you join and then they feed you. a much more limited "menu" than in the past, but the cacio e pepe is still good, as were the meatballs.
hostaria da Noerone-terme di tito - great lunch for $20 pp. if you'ne near the coliseum, worth the visit.
da sergio - v d Grotte, 27-right off the campo fiori. All locals...they take you over to show you what they've cooked - a great experience - we spent $30 for 2 (lunch), and could barely walk out the door!
boccon divino - v d Pavone, 28 - Excellent! A local took us over to this place after we had stopped at enoteca il goccetto (no smoking inside!) for a couple of glasses of wine and hadn't made plans for dinner...this place was hopping at 11pm, and the food was really good - grilled anchovies and their oxtail stew were standouts...spent $20 pp. for 1 primi, 2 secondi, 3 contorni, 2 espressos, 1 water and the house red!
trattoria antonio bassetti - governo vecchio, 18 - kind of a lunch find just saw a bunch of people waiting outside for lunch and liked the food - really roman.
la campana was wonderful, as previously stated!
ristorante maccheroni - pza d coppelle - really good dinner here, including a shared primi of salumis that could have fed 4! open kitchen and you can see everything that's going on - watch the cooks hiding their cigarettes! i had some delicious lamb chops and a great amatriciana as well - this is a little more expensive, but still didn't break the $40 pp mark w/a bottle of red.
al ciabot - across the way from il goccetto- now we're getting more expensive, up into the over $50 pp category - while the food was good, and the wine list amazing, i'll take hostaria nerone any day!
antico arco - food, service and decor all wonderful, and i really like the little bar next door for an apertivi...they did overcharge $16 on our bottle of wine, which was graciously fixed when pointed out!
favorite pizza is da francesco on the pza d fico - have a drink first at il fico bar - a fun scene - then step into a true roman pizzeria - self-serve antipasti bar @$6 a plate - the 5 guys next to us had piled so many olives on their plate that my wife and i we're cracking up! do as they do - everyone has their own pie and they're great!
wine bars - we really liked il goccetto on vd banchi vecchi as well as la vineria reggio in the campo fiori - which was basically as crazy as an nyc bar on a saturday night! also bevitoria navona - sit or stand inside - it's probably 1/2 the price.
As for Rome overall, can't wait to go back! Buon appetito!