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Franco's favourite ... Roman food & restaurants

Franco's favourite ... Roman food & restaurants

Old Sep 21st, 2007, 09:11 PM
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Old Sep 23rd, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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Update after a recent Rome visit/food report:
I had seven full days; for lunch, I usually eat something very quick, light, and definitely unmemorable - sparing appetite, money, time and energy for dinner. For seven dinners, we had eight restaurants on our list, six of them were fixed, two to choose from.

Tuesday: Colline Emiliane (taking advice from Fodor’s, particularly from ekscrunchy - thanks, ek!), Via degli Avignonesi, 22; closed Sunday evenings and Mondays. This is not Roman cuisine but (as the name betrays) food from the Emilia region, i.e. from Bologna. I had excellent tortellini in brodo (stuffed pasta in wonderful, rich broth, an Emilian standard) and a very mild, very soft, very fine piece of veal cooked in milk, with mashed potatoes (Bologna and Rome are Italy’s only regions where serious potato eaters will be happy) - huge helpings, so all I could eat for dessert were (good!) frutti di bosco al limone. My partner had two more classic Emilian dishes, tagliatelle alla bolognese and bollito misto con salsa verde; I didn’t overly like the bolognese sauce (too much on the carrot-celery side, for me), but the bollito was great, particularly the salsa verde. Their home-made pasta deserves a special praise. Nice service, too. Rank 4 among our 7 dinners.

Wednesday: This was the evening with a choice: precisely, the choice was between Matricianella (another ek recommendation) and Alfredo e Ada (had to check whether this out-of-time place, see above, was still there). During the day, we passed by Matricianella and had a look at the menu, which seemed interesting and inviting, but not at all Roman (cook’s phantasies instead). Since Alfredo e Ada DOES still exist, we decided to postpone Matricianella to our next trip - Ada’s health has grown weak over the last few years, she’s 84 now, and I doubt whether I’ll have the possibility to eat there ever again. Of course, I knew from the beginning this meal would not be able to compete with the others; Ada is cooking like your grandma, not like a restaurant cook in the modern sense - home-style cooking of a very simple yet tasty kind. It’s the extremely likeable old-fashioned atmosphere that makes this place so special… We had (pre-cooked, like usual at this osteria) pasta in simple tomato sauce, and sampled two secondi, veal stew in white sauce and beef roulade in tomato sauce. Dry cookies with sweet wine are the standard dessert. Rank 7, of course, nevertheless I’m glad to have returned here! In the end, we were chatting with Ada and her son, who is responsible for the service now, and it was a nice and memorable evening.

Thursday: Pommidoro, Piazza dei Sanniti, 44, closed on sundays. After a long and exhausting day of sightseeing, this was just the right place (ten minutes by foot from the apartment we had) - one of Rome’s most famous osterie, but I had never been there before since it’s quite out of the way. Well, this time, we were living out of the way, too… Pommidoro is famous for venison (shot by the owner himself, who is a passionate huntsman), and for pajata - particularly recently, since this is the most famous of those restaurants courageous enough to serve veal pajata (the filled bowels, see above) though it is illegal since the mad-cow disease (a totally nonsensical ban since the mad-cow disease doesn’t concern animals less than 36 months old - and pajata can of course only be had from suckling veals, who are just a few weeks old!!). True Roman gourmets insist that for pajata in tomato sauce (whether on pasta or as a secondo), veal pajata is indispensable, while for grilled pajata, it must be lamb pajata. Pommidoro offers both types, and of course, I had to try both: a piece of a lamb pajata spit (rolled and stuffed with other lamb intestines) plus pig’s head plus prosciutto plus (cold) roast suckling pig as a mixed plate of antipasti; rigatoni con (veal) pajata as a primo piatto, and roast pheasant with olives as a secondo. The pheasant and the rest of the antipasti were excellent, but the two pajata preparations were much more than this - they’re alone worth the trip to Rome! Memorable indeed… The alternative secondo at our table was abbacchio (roast suckling lamb), excellent as well. Great, knowledgeable, attentive service. Rank 2.
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Old Oct 20th, 2007, 03:14 PM
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This has brought back of memories of a wonderful evening with Ada and her sister, some 5 years ago. We first heard of this tiny osteria through this website and enjoyed dinner and conversation with couples from Belgium, France and Holland (we're Australian).
We intend to return to Rome next year and will now hope to be able to enjoy that atmosphere again.
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Old Oct 21st, 2007, 03:30 PM
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Friday: This was a truly surprising meal, and it gave me a lesson; hopefully, this lesson will be useful for others, as well. What we had scheduled was going to Checchino on that evening, but… I had no car, this time (it’s always a mistake to have no car, and this was the proof!), and Rome’s trams & busses were on strike that day… Checchino, of course, is at the back of beyond, and it’s already expensive enough - if I had to add two taxi bills to the restaurant bill, I wouldn’t enjoy the meal anymore. So we skipped Checchino, this time (which prompted our immediate decision to go back to Rome next year!!! - it’s really maddening to be in Rome for one week without any possibility to visit Checchino!). Ok, having enjoyed the meal at Pommidoro that much, where we could easily get by foot, we decided to eat there again - and it was disappointing in comparison. I don’t say bad, but certainly disappointing. Friday and Saturday, of course, are the days when everybody seems to eat out in Rome; the restaurant was cramped, we had a different waiter (actually, I think they are no waiters, but the owner’s sons, so it would seem our second "waiter" was the first "waiter’s" brother), who was nice, too, but far less attentive and not quite coping with the madhouse the place had turned that evening. The same was true for the kitchen. The lamb pajata spit (my partner ordered it, this time) was far from the perfection it had boasted the day before (slightly overdone, slightly dry & burnt), the wild boar sauce on my pasta was a little boring (and the meat cut into too large cubes IMO, though I normally love it if a ragù is not made from minced but from knife-cut meat), my veal sweetbread was simply not hot enough (it’s being served lukewarm on purpose, since the lower temperature enhances the sweetbread’s taste, but this was really more luke than warm). The ricotta-and-chocolate cake for dessert was excellent. For this second Pommidoro meal, only rank 6.
So, the lesson is: on Fridays and Saturdays, when much more people are eating out than the rest of the week, try to stick to restaurants of which you know they’re able to handle stress, hecticness, and many customers…
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Old Oct 22nd, 2007, 07:59 PM
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thanks Franco
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 06:42 AM
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Saturday: Osteria dell’Angelo (see above). Some things have changed here: they’re now serving your coffee unsweetened, and the sugar apart, like every normal restaurant (what a sad loss!), and the place has doubled in size, having acquired additional rooms adjacent to the original Osteria. But the most important thing has not changed: this is still Rome’s best and steadiest kitchen. If possible, it may even have improved. Antipasti (cold wild boar sausage on grilled bread, cold mashed potatoes with cappers and tuna, and a kind of baked beans, all three incredibly delicious & tasting a thousand times better than they sound) and dessert (the usual dry cookies with sweet wine) are standard for every guest at Angelo’s. For primo and secondo, I simply had to choose Angelo’s wonderful showcases (though I always choose them): tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and roast rabbit. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe are an extraordinarily plain pasta dish, and yet so incredibly difficult to prepare: thick, square, home-made durum-wheat “spaghetti”, just sprinkled with grated caciocavallo cheese and freshly ground black pepper, both diluted with some olive oil and a little of the pasta’s cooking water – go ahead and try it at home, but don’t blame me!!! I’m a quite accomplished cook, but this is one dish I’ve never been able to prepare satisfyingly. The cheese and the cooking water inevitably form one big gummy clump… Needless to say, it doesn’t clump together at Angelo’s, and they’re making a marvel of this simple dish. Their rabbit is another gastronomic prodigy; once they roast it with olives, now they’re doing it with tiny quantities of cherry tomatoes and bacon, which is perhaps even better. (My only objection: while the modest prices at Angelo’s didn’t change over the years, the wine is no more included now, and the rabbit helping is half of what it once used to be. No worries, though, the total of four courses is still so extremely filling here that you’ll be barely able to move when trying to walk out after dinner.) By the way, they also don’t have any issues with hordes of hungry customers and with hecticness. Of course, rank 1.
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Old Oct 23rd, 2007, 07:02 AM
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Thanks, Franco! Excellent point about weekend dining and great coverage!
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 05:47 AM
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ek, your legendary January Rome trip/food report has been my guidance!

Sunday: Le mani in pasta (see above). Another restaurant that has doubled in size (by opening the cellar). I had very good spaghetti with Vernaccia (red wine from Sardinia) and onions, excellent rombo (turbot) fillets with potatoes (a huge helping), and a gorgonzola gelato that was definitely more interesting/unusual than good. Negligent service. All in all, good value for money. Rank 5.

Monday: Sora Lella (see above), a long-time favourite. Excellent and nice service, pretty setting; was never cheap, but has grown pretty expensive now. I had their famous pasta specialty, tonnarelli alla cuccagna (with crumbled sausage and chopped walnuts), a wonderful dish that changes interestingly over the years; this time, it was on the intense and rustic side: excellent! The boned rolled lamb roast was very good, too, but I liked it better when it was crispier (= heavier roasted) a few years ago. For dessert, an ingenious ricotta-cherry-tart which came powdered with both sugar and (plenty of!!) salt, and yes, it was wonderful! Sora Lella’s cook/owner has long been experimenting with ancient Roman cuisine, which almost ALWAYS combined sweet and savoury flavours, and this tart is a beautiful fruit of this experience with ancient recipes. All in all, rank 3.

That's it for the meals; yet to follow: a short gelato report.
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 11:26 AM
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Franco, Thanks for the update. On your recommendation we tried both Osteria dell’Angelo and Lemani in Pasta and enjoyed both. We did Angelo's for lunch after the morning at the Vatican so we missed some of the flavor yoju talk about but still had wonderful pastas and good wine for very liitle money.

Lemani in Pasta was wonderful, one of our best meals in Rome and I continue to recommend it to anyone lookin for fine, reasonably priced food in Trastevere. The service was quite good the evening we were there, even though our Italian leaves a lot to be desired. They were very patient with us and worked hard at communicating about the food, with a great sense of humour.

I look forward to your gelato report. We looked for the gelato place you had recommneded in Trastevere but I don't think we actually found it! But we still ate wonderful gelato in Rome!
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Old Oct 24th, 2007, 04:06 PM
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plafield, hello - that's the problem: the wonderful gelato on Via S. Francesco a Ripa is no more available, the owner, Mr. Cecere, is off to his pension. But there is a compensation... see below!

Ok, the promised short gelato report: here's what I've tried this time.
1 - Giolitti, Via Uffici del Vicario, 40. One of Rome's two hippest gelaterie, and the most traditional to boot. Unusual gelato, old-fashioned in a sense. PLENTY of fruit (or chocolate, or whatever taste) goes into it, which is of course wonderful; what's slightly strange about it is that it seems like simply mashed and frozen fruit (or whatever else...), without much attention to texture: every flavour has its own texture, some are creamy, some are tough, some are watery. Also re: taste, not all flavours were quite on the same quality level. Nevertheless, some gorgeous gelati are waiting for you. Overall, very good to excellent.
2 - Camilloni a Sant'Eustachio (opposite S. Eustachio, as the name betrays). This is one of Rome's most famous bars/gelaterie, though I have yet to sample their gelato! I can't but always take their justly famous granita al limone (shaved ice with lemon), which has no equal and no comparison.
3 - Gelato di S. Crispino, Via Acaia, 56 (this is their second outlet, where I visited - the headquarter is on Via della Panetteria, 42). The second of the two hip gelaterie. Many extremely unusual and interesting flavours. Unfortunately, the gelato itself is abominable. This is among the worst gelati I've ever had anywhere anytime.
4 - Since Cecere in Trastevere was my favourite gelateria; since it doesn't exist anymore; and since Cecere is not exactly a common name in Rome, but there were no less than THREE gelaterie named Cecere in Rome, and all famous for their zabaione ice cream - I decided to try the two others: I thought (and still think) this is one family, presumably brothers and sister, and the zabaione gelato is a family tradition. Well, a second Mr. Cecere is already off to his pension, as well; but the third Cecere gelateria, run by a lady (the sister??), is still there, though the lady is by no means young, as well. Oh, how I HOPE she has children who will continue to run this gelateria!!! I discovered it only now, and it's GREAT. A true compensation for my beloved S. Francesco a Ripa zabaione ice cream; Mrs. Cecere's zabaione cream is slightly different than ??her brother's??, but on the same level. And the others flavours are gorgeous, too. Ah yes, the address: Via del Lavatore, 84 - Trevi fountain is around the corner (tourist alert, thus! and such a wonderful quality nonetheless!).
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Old Dec 29th, 2007, 07:51 AM
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Old Jan 2nd, 2008, 07:45 PM
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terrific info- thanks!
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Old Jan 11th, 2008, 05:12 PM
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Regularly over the last weeks, people who wanted to contact me opened new threads and addressed me in the title, like "Franco (and others), ... question, please". I hope I've noticed all of them, but nevertheless, this is a little hazardous since I'm not such a diligent forum reader - rather the lazy type. Very often, I'm just checking the threads on which I've already posted before...
So if you want my opinion, please post your question on "my" appropriate thread (all the links are above, near the top); or, if you open a new thread for your question hoping that this way, more others might weigh in, then please post a short notice or a link to your question on "my" thread as well to prevent me from overlooking it. Thanks!
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Old Feb 19th, 2008, 07:11 PM
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Old Mar 7th, 2008, 01:05 PM
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Hello Franco:

We will be in Rome the first
week of April and are looking for a restaurant that makes a great fish stew..love red sauce. What do you recommend?
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Old Mar 9th, 2008, 07:29 AM
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welig, if you read this thread carefully, you'll realize that what you're looking for is the opposite of Roman food, so to speak. If you want to have fish stew with red sauce, there's no point in sampling it in Rome, or to put it more precisely, no better point in sampling it in Rome than in Sydney or Los Angeles - meaning that you have to go to a place serving foreign specialties, here and there. In (near) Rome, maybe the best place for these particular foreign specialty is Al Monumento in Ostia Antica (not the excavations of course - the more modern village of the same name nearby). This is a trattoria specializing in seafood, and serving food from the Romagna region, where they're big on red fish sauce - a traditional place nonetheless, since in the 19th century, workers from the Romagna came here for employment in the Roman industry. Ostia Antica was their settlement, and Al Monumento has been run by the same family ever since. The trattoria is on Piazza Umberto I, closed Mondays.
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Old Sep 25th, 2008, 09:17 AM
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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Just a quick note to tell that - after a long and unexpected absence for reasons of work - I'm back on Fodor's.
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