Restaurants

by Mauro Abate  

MUSIC :  "Via Margutta" (Margutta street,
by Luca Barbarossa)

Introduction

Perhaps much to your surprise, what is known as "Italian cuisine" is a galaxy of regional cuisines. Every region in fact has its cuisine, contributing to the broader one with its own dishes. Probably the most important ones (of course the Italians hardly agree on this) are those of the region of Naples (pizza, sfogliatelle, pastiera, babà etc.), Bologna (lasagne, tortellini, ravioli, parmesan cheese, prosciutto-ham, Modena balsamic vinegar), Sicily (pasta alla Norma, pasta con sarde e pinoli, caponata, melanzane alla parmigiana, scacciate, cassata etc.), Liguria (the region of Genoa, with pasta al pesto for ex.), Puglie (Apulia) for its "orecchiette", its whole wheat bread of Altamura, its very imaginative Mediterranean first courses and fish dishes. The region of Tuscany is also famous for its steaks (bisteccha alla Fiorentina) and sweets (Saporelli and Panforte of Siena for ex.), the cuisine of Abruzzi for its meat dishes, the region of Milan for its "risotto" (rise) and the Christmas cake "Panettone", Calabria for its very natural products, particularly tomatoes.
Only the very best and famous Italian restaurants have a large selection of many dishes from various regions, including the wines, which are also different in every region. Normal good restaurants will have regional dishes and the most important dishes of other regions. Very simple restaurants or "trattorie" (or "Osterie") have just a few regional dishes and very few national ones. The solution to have an in-depth knowledge of the Italian cuisine, and hence of the regional cuisines, without facing the huge bill of the very best and famous restaurants, is trying another type of restaurant, the specific regional ones, having all the specialties of that region. Usually they clearly indicate their nature, i.e. the regional cuisine they prepare.
On the other hand, a particular feature of the Italian cuisine is that the Italians, even the wealthy ones, like to use simpler restaurants, and - if possible - home made food. Italians have a lot of good taste, and are very sensible people. Above all, although the Italian cuisine uses a complex array of criteria, ingredients and millenary considerations, it provileges simplicity in presentation and approach, unlike the French. This is why you will always find cheap, honest "trattorie" packed with locals, who would possibly still prefer home cooking (mum's cooking in Italy is traditionally considered the best).

The philosophy

The Italian cuisine follows a combination of the following criteria.
(a) First of all food should be prepared with genuine and natural products.
(b) It must involve important cultural factors as attachment to the family, to tradition, and to the very important cultural, ethical and moral aspects underlying them.
(c) It is a convivial cuisine: people should ideally enjoy meals together, strengthening family or friendly relations. Moreover, like in all Mediterranean cuisines, eating means sitting around the table, and exchanging ideas, values and emotions with other people, possibly with a different outlook.
(d) Food must have good taste, and it should be healthy too. Like all Mediterranean cuisines, there should be predominance of vegetables, and low content of meat, fish, and animal products, with correct low quantity of saturated fats and cholesterol, and correct intake of complex carbohydrates (like pasta).
These are the distinctive features which make the Italian cuisine rightfully famous. This is also why the peasant tradition survives.
A good sign is also that vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular. By respecting the animals' rights to live, people find out that they eat and live better, and are very healthy. In the Mediterranean vegetarians find also an ideal variety of food.

The menu

Most meals consist of a "primo" - pasta or cereal course -; "secondo" (meat or fish for those who eat it, if not other possibilities): and "contorno", side dish made by cooked vegetables or salad, served separately. Meals can include "antipasto" - hors d'oeuvre", "dolce"  - dessert - and "frutta" (fruit). Unfortunately, the nutritional culture of Northern and wealthy countries is taking over, and there is more and more meat in the menu. Although vegetarians find many dishes to eat, and things are better here than Northern European countries, because the culture of the latter is becoming popular, sometimes a first course followed by a simple salad or "contorno" (side dish) and cheese / omelet is the only option for vegetarians.

Drinks

While top-range restaurants generally have adequate wine lists, "trattorie" and "osterie" generally have a limited selection, and you will see the same five -  six brands mostly of white wine wherever you go. Most people ask for "vino locale", or "vino della casa", generally white wine. The most popular white wine in Rome comes from the Alban Hills, or Castelli Romani. It is called "Vino dei Castelli" in Italian. There are several brands, very similar, the best perhaps are Marino and Grottaferrata, and especially "Gotto d'Oro". It must be served chilled.
Mineral water - acqua minerale - is "frizzante/gassata/con gas" (sparkling), or "naturale/senza gas (still).
Usually after the meal Italians have an "amaro" or "digestivo"  (digestive, a bitter liqueur), after coffee. If you have a complete meal the owners of the restaurant frequently will offer it to you as a treat.

Criteria used to select the restaurants

Our intention is not to make a comprehensive list of restaurants, nor to report the most famous, fancy (and expensive) ones, but to report about restaurants that we think have quality for the food, atmosphere and service, and which also give value to your money. Some of them offer a 10% discount to Roman Homes customers, for which you need to show your rental contract or our business card. Many of these restaurants are hence off the beaten tracks. As soon as we will discover new ones, we will inspect them, report about them, and we will try to make the owners apply a discount for our customers. So if you have any suggestions about a special restaurant that you have discovered, please let us know about it at our usual E-mail address: info@romanhomes.com. Also restaurant owners who think that they have the above criteria can write to us asking to be included in the list, and we will contact them to inspect their service.

CAMPO DE' FIORI, PIAZZA NAVONA AND SPANISH STEPS AREAS. Places where ROMAN HOMES CUSTOMERS receive 10% DISCOUNT.

While wondering around the area, which stretches from Campo de' Fiori, across the Piazza Navona to the Spanish Steps, you will soon discover many of the treasures of the city. This is area is culturally, historically, artistically and architecturally compelling and will consume your imagination immediately. The area is referred to as the "Tridente" of the historic centre of the city and it is here that you will find a vast array of fantastic "trattorie", "pizzerie" and "ristoranti". We recommend the following as they offer the best and most authentic of Roman and Italian cuisine.

Trattoria "ANTICA TAVERNA", Via Monte Giordano, 12 (Tel. 0668801053, open 12:00 noon until 24:00 midnight, daily). This is a very popular little trattoria that serves a variety of meat and fish dishes cooked according to Roman, Tuscan and Ligurian recipes. This family run trattoria offers attentive and friendly service and an intimate environment which favours relaxation and long Roman lunches. The average price for a meal (consisting of four courses including wine, bread and a service charge) is 50,000 Ital. Lira for fish (app. 24 US$ or 26 Euros) and 40,000 Ital. Lira without it (app. 19 US$ or 21 Euros). Roman Homes customers receive a 10% discount upon presenting our business card or contract agreement.

If you are staying in the Campo de' Fiori area you may like to try the trattoria "DA GIULIO" situated just after the Church of Santa Maria in Monserrato, in Via della Barchetta, 19, Tel. 0668806466 (from 12-3:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. - midnight). This is a favourite of many artists and the Roman avant-garde on one hand, and by Vatican Monsignors, Bishops and Cardinals on the other hand. It offers a variety of interesting antipasti, pastas and main course dishes. Specialties include home made gnocchi with truffle, gorgonzola cheese, pesto or ragu', tagliatelle with mushrooms, saltimbocca and fresh fish either grilled or baked. The hospitable owners have been running this trattoria, situated in a magnificent sixteenth century palazzo, with wooden beam ceilings for many generations. Prices are very reasonable and the food is delicious, in the range of the Antica Taverna (please read above). Outdoor dining in appropriate weather. Roman Homes customers receive a 10% discount upon presenting our business card or contract agreement.

We also recommend "Trattoria Da Luigi" in Piazza Sforza Cesarini, 24. (Tel. 0668885945/ 066864777 open 12.00 noon until 24.00 midnight, closed on Mondays). This trattoria offers a superb and extensive menu of meat, fish and vegetarian food and has an impressive list of fine wines. Da Luigi is centrally located in a piazza just off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele but it manages to retain a sense of tranquillity and peace. The average price for a meal is 40-50,000 lira (19-24 US$ // 21-26 Euros). Roman Homes customers receive a 10% discount upon presenting our business card or contract agreement.

If you like fish then LA TORRETTA is the place for you! It is located in Piazza della Torretta, 38-40, in the vicinity of Via dei Condotti and the Spanish Steps. (Tel. 066833494, open 12.00 noon until 24.00 midnight, closed on Tuesdays). This restaurant also offers a multitude of meat and pasta dishes to tempt your wallet. The "spigola" or sea bass is particularly delicious and the friendly and helpful owners will take pleasure in attending to your every need. The average price for a meal is 40-50,000 lira (19-24 US$ // 21-26 Euros). Roman Homes customers receive a 10% discount upon presenting our business card or contract agreement.

LA RUSTICHELLA ("Not only Pizza" as their slogan says). Vicolo della Cancelleria 13 (Tel. 0668803786). It is in the same street of the Navona Michelangelo apt. (a good place when you are tired and you don't want to cook or walk far). They have many varieties of Pizza (try the one with peppers), and also typical Roman cuisine. They have at least 15 first courses, and great "antipasti" (Mediterranean horsd'oeuvre). Following the Roman cuisine they have many meat dishes. Expect to pay 25-30,000 Ital. Lira (app. 12-14 US$ // 13-15 Euros) for a pizza-meal (pizza, drink, dessert), and 40,000 lira (19 US$ // 20 Euros) for a regular meal. To receive the 10% discount please tell owners Stefano or Fabrizio that you are our customers, show them our card or contract.

La Rustichella

La Rustichella

Although you will not receive a 10% discount like the restaurants mentioned above We would like to recommend the following places to you, as they are situated around the Centro Storico, provide great food and service.

SORA MARGHERITA situated in Piazza Cinque Scole, 30 (Tel. 066864002) For lunch only. This restaurant is one you should not be missing if you like Roman Jewish cuisine. Less famous then others, hard to find (it does not even have a sign), it is attended by the Roman Jews, and connoisseurs. It offers the complete variety of Jewish cuisine, beginning from the famous fried artichokes (Carciofi alla Giudia). The price is very low, app. 30-35,000 Ital. Lira (app. 14 US$ or 15 Euros), giving value to your money. This is why they said they could not offer a discount to our customers (rock bottom price). Great place to explore for cultural reasons. Pay attention to find it, as it is not easy.

PICCOLA ROMA situated on Via Uffici del Vicario, 36. (Tel. 066798606) For lunch and dinner. Following the Roman cuisine, they offer many meat dishes, but also good first courses, and have also a good wine list. The average price for a meal (consisting of four courses including wine, bread and a service charge) is 50,000 lira (app. 24 US$ or 26 Euros).
Next to it is the ice cream place "Giolitti", an institution in Rome, and you could not think of a better place after the meal.

RISTORANTE "PIERLUIGI" situated in Piazza de Ricci, 144. Tel. 0668800778 / 779, closed Monday. For lunch and Dinner. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

RISTORANTE MONSERRATO situated on Via di Monserrato, 96,Tel. 066873386. For lunch and Dinner. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

SETTIMIO AL PELLEGRINO situated on Via dell Pellegrino, 117. For lunch and Dinner. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

DITTIRAMBO situated in Piazza della Cancelleria,74 (Tel. 066871626). For Dinner only. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

GRAPPOLO D'ORO situated in Piazza della Cancelleria, 80 (Tel. 066864118) opposite Dittirambo's. For Dinner only. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

L'INSALATA RICCA situated in Largo dei Chiarvari, 85 (Tel. 0668803656) and also on Piazza di Pasquino,72 (Tel. 0668307881). For lunch only. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

PARIS situated in Piazza San Calisto, 7e ( Tel. 065815378). For lunch and For Dinner. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.

LA POLLEROLA situated in Piazza della Cancelleria. For lunch and Dinner. The price is in the average of the restaurants presented above.


MONTI QUARTER

In the quarter you will find many restaurants. Of course you will find all the Italian ones that your heart desires, from cozy family run "trattorie" and "pizzerie" to fine "ristoranti", with all the regional variants. You can also find other cuisines (French, Chinese, Japanese, Indian etc.). And there are also many "gelaterie" (ice cream cafes), bars, pastry shops, wineries for connoisseurs, "torrefazione" (special bars where you can drink or even buy the coffee specifically ground and toasted by the house). You really have the embarrassment of richness. And if you feel like cooking at home, not only you will find normal supermarket (in Via del Boschetto towards Via Nazionale, to the right: "Margherita"), fruit shops, but also cozy, old-fashioned grocery stores in Via dei Serpenti.

We recommend the restaurant "I ragazzi di Via Panisperna" (also called "Le tavernelle"), in Via Panisperna n. 48 (tel./fax 064740724 - 4744008). It is attended by actors, movie directors, people of the quarter and intellectuals all alike. Chef Nicola will pamper you if you mention that you are Roman Homes customers. Specialties include: irresistible Mediterranean horsd'oeuvre ("antipasti"), state-of-the-art pastas, fish dishes, grilled cheese with Sardinian honey, an award winning dessert called "Dolce Vita" after Fellini's masterpiece, and a liqueur made of mirth. This restaurant is not expensive, and on top offers a 10% discount to Roman Homes customers. You will need to have the rental contract with you, or our business card (we will give them to you upon your arrival, and not after the bill was written).  Outside: comfortable tables

Outside: comfortable tables to dine "al fresco"

Inside: a great atmosphere.

Inside: a great atmosphere. At times it seems a museum, with all those dedicated photos of the stars.

If instead you're thinking of having pizza, we recommend "Chicco di Grano" (Wheat Grain), in Via degli Zingari 5-6- 7-8, corner with Via del Boschetto 115-114 (tel. 0647825033). They prepare nearly 30 different types of Pizza with wooden fire oven, according to the Neapolitan tradition, not the Roman. We recommend Neapolitan pizza as opposed to the Roman (it is quite hard to find the former in Rome, and you will generally have to surrender...when in Rome...). In the Neapolitan pizza the dough is let aside to raise, the pizza is thicker and more dressed. "Chicco di Grano" also prepares 40 different types of Bruschetta, a Roman specialty of grilled bread dipped in olive oil and garlic (with many variants). Also this restaurant offers a 10% discount to Roman Homes customers. Again, you will need to have the rental contract with you, or our business card.

If you are thinking of "Gelato" (ice cream), we recommend "Il Gelatone" (The Big Ice Cream), in Via dei Serpenti 28 (tel. 064820187). The ice cream is not only big, it is just G-R-E-A-T, one of the best in town! Chef Paolo prepares about 100 variants of fresh and home made Gelato, including all sorts of fruit ice cream, more classical flavours, and new ones he creates (for ex. "Crema Antica" - Ancient Cream). He also prepares ice cream with soy milk (without cow milk), and also without sugar for those who are on diet. Also this great place offers a 10% discount to Roman Homes customers, you will need the rental contract with you, or our card. "Gelatone" is a big temptation open nearly all the time (between 8 am and midnight).

Interior: a cool, air conditioned saloon

Interior: a cool, air conditioned hall

The long bench with nearly 100 flavours

The long bench with nearly 100 flavours


PIZZERIAS

What is the difference between a Roman and a Neapolitan pizza? They are nearly totally different things. The Roman pizza is thinner, the dough is prepared in a slightly different way because it is not left aside to raise. The Roman pizza is slightly less dressed too. There is an eternal dispute on which one is better. Given the name of our company ("Roman Homes") we should support the Roman. Actually we prefer the Neapolitan, which is the authentic Italian pizza. In Rome you can find it only in selected places. Try for example:

CIRO Via della Mercede 43. It is between the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

PIZZARE' situated in Via di Ripetta, 14, (Tel. 063211468). For lunch and dinner.
Beginning from Piazza del Popolo it is approximately 60 meters (65 yards) to the left. If you go in the evening you must stay in line outside. A waiter will write your name in the list and little by little he will call the ones entitled to enter. This should tell you how popular it is. The popularity is well deserved. The pizzeria has over 40 variety of pizzas, including the PizzaRè it self (with mozzarella di bufala and cherry tomatoes). There are various antipasti and pagnottielli (a sort of Neapolitan calzone). Expect to pay 25-30,000 Ital. Lira (app. 12-14 US$ // 13-15 Euros) for a pizza-meal (pizza, drink, dessert), and 40,000 lira (19 US$ // 20 Euros) for a regular meal.
Both at Ciro's and at Pizzare you will find not only pizza, and it would be a big mistake to have only this famous dish. Both places are authentic Neapolitan restaurants. The Neapolitan cuisine is a full-fledged variant of the Mediterranean cuisine. It is very imaginative, prepared according to ancient wisdom and traditions. It is extremely varied and based on vegetables (and also sea products). It is never heavy. Apart from the vast variety of pizzas, don't forget:
- "sfizi fritti" ("fried niceties", an imaginative way to cook zucchini flowers, mozzarella cheese etc.
- "mozzarella di bufala": mozzarella prepared from buffalo milk, a delicious original Neapolitan variety of the cheese. Try it and you will understand (how good it is, and better than cow milk mozzarella).
-"spaghetti pomodoro": the tomato spaghetti prepared in Naples are "another thing", as the Neapolitan say. Fresh tomato flavour, " al dente" spaghetti (the Neapolitan ones are the best in Italy) and there you have the nicest tomato spaghetti in Italy.
-"sfogliatelle alla ricotta" (sweets made of thin dough filled with ricotta).
- "pastiera" (a cake with orange blossom flavour) and "babà", the traditional Neapolitan pastry.
-"caffè": the Neapolitans believe their "espresso" is the best in the world. How can one deny it?
- "limoncello": a recent innovation. It is a liqueur with lemon flavour, which is so good that will make you forget its high alcoholic tenour.
If you still have room... ask for Sicilian sweets or gelati (like the "Cassata"), among the most *genial* and original sweets in the world.

If you want to try the Roman Pizza, then LA RUSTICHELLA (Pizzeria and trattoria) is a good place for you. It is situated in Vicolo della Cancelleria 13 (Tel. 0668803786). Please refer to the description in the restaurant section. To receive a 10% discount please show the owners Stefano or Fabrizio our card or contract.
Also "Baffetto" is a good place (please see above).

An intermediate variant between the Roman and Neapolitan can be found at "Chicco di Grano", in the Monti quarter (please look the relevant page), also with 10% discount. The pizza is also very large.


Outside Rome

We will report only the ones we strongly recommend.

In Monteporzio Catone, near Frascati, try "Romoletto", in Via G. Verdi, 25. If you go on Sunday, it is necessary to reserve, at least as early as on Friday. Call Tel. 069449495.
The restaurant is tucked in the historical centre of Monteporzio. On foot, after you pass the main gate of the town, turn immediately to the left. If you go by car, you will have to park first, and then find Via G. Verdi.
The restaurant was founded by Romoletto at the beginning of the century, today his son Renzo and nephew Romoletto Jr. continue the activity. The restaurant is run by the members of a big and united family. Everything is fresh and natural. You will be first served a generous "antipasto" (horsd'ouvre), then you will be able to choose among many variants of home made pastas (we recommend "Ravioli ricotta e spinaci" -   Ricotta and spinach dumplings - with tomato sauce, or Tagliatelle both "ai funghi porcini" - with mushrooms -

Romoletto: don't forget to reserve!

Romoletto, outside
A hyper-satisfied customer after lunch

or with tomato sauce).
The second course is so generous that you will hardly know how to manage it. Usually there is a tray with many varieties of grilled meat, or - if you respect animals and you are hence vegetarian - the tray will have many niceties, like fried zucchini flowers, or fried eggplants etc. A generous side dish is brought too, usually a salad.
You will be served after a dessert, fruit, digestive (try "limoncello" made of lemon, superb), and coffee.
The bill? Peanuts: for all this you pay 35,000 Ital. Lira (app. 15.5 US$ or 18 Euros !!!), and the quality of food is high.
Because of the quality, quantity and the price, we did not ask to Renzo a 10% discount for our customers, yet if you tell him you saw his photos in the Roman Homes site he will surely pamper you.

Lots of people, all happy and gleeful!

Romoletto, interior: Renzo

- Marino: "Checco e Nello", Via Nettunense Km. 2. Once you are in the Via Appia, after the ring, going to Albano and Castel Gandolfo, when you arrive in Frattocchie you should turn right and take the Via Nettunense. After 2 kilometers you reach a little village called Castelluccia. After 400 meters to the right you find the restaurant, which offers a similar service to Romoletto. Try particularly the great pastas, particularly Ravioli ricotta e spinaci, and also all the grilled specialties, particularly "Scamorza ai Ferri" a special cheese grilled with Bruschetta - delicious. Details of the phone n. will be given soon.

Restaurants in the Italian Riviera


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