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Eating out: TRASTEVERE PDF Print E-mail
Feb 21, 2009 at 11:15 AM

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First published in Wanted in Rome.

The reasons are not all that clear, but Rome's Trastevere - in modern times a sort of Greenwich Village or Soho inhabited by artists, students, intellectuals and foreign expats - has long been known as the place to go in the evenings to eat and, more recently alas, to drink, hang out, and drink some more. The result? A plethora of restaurants (and, alas, bars) that long ago put the area on the city's culinary map. Trastevere's eating places range from the excellent, the tried and true to the mediocre. It's hard to get a bad meal. But with an increasing number of eateries now catering to tourists, it's not so easy to get a great one either. Below find a small selection of places I think most people will enjoy .

Paris: Piazza San Calisto 7a. Telefono: 06 5815378. www.ristoranteparis.com

This restaurant has a long history, founded as it was by the Paris family in 1890. That dynasty ran out, however, and after a couple of false starts by others it was taken over by Dario Cappellante whose years of experience in the Roman gastronomical world has produced one of Trastevere's best restaurants.Paris - three welcoming dining rooms in classic trattoria style and an ample outdoor space for good weather outside eating - is but a few steps away from Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere.

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Dario Cappellante

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Carciofi Judean style and chicory

The food is "traditional plus" with an accent on dishes that have come to be known as giudeo-romano, such as a mixed vegetable and cod fry, artichokes Judean style, "quinto quarto" dishes (the parts that others might throw away) such as oxtail and tripe alla romana, and Jewish style bresaola and carne secca prepared by Sigor Dario himself. Mrs. Cappellante, Signora Iole, oversees the excellent pasta e ceci,a selection of pastas of terra or mare, a luscious pot roast (stracotto di manzo) and great seafood. 

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Paris' fesh scampi
Excellent service from real Italian trattoria waiters and don't miss the delicious dessets such as the palle del nonno (sorry, Grandpa), fried balls of ricotta and chocolate. Yum. ...The restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner except for Sunday evening and Monday lunch. Average price per person, €40-50. Reservations are recommended.

Trattoria Quirino, Vicolo della Scala 3 tel 06 58301885

This small but interesting restaurant, which in July, 2006 moved into the premises of a historic Trastevere eating place, is a relatively new addition to the panoply of Trastevere eating spots and a welcome one indeed. Quirino Fazioli, a 52 year old romano D.O.C., has been in the food business for 20 years and is using the strength of his experience and that of his partners, Marzia and Federico, to give the neighborhood a reasonably priced eatery with food that is traditional, interesting and, as a bonus, extremely well-presented.

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Quirino taking orders

To my eyes - although Quirino like many Romans would not appreciate the comparison -  the restaurant has a slightly French touch to it in the pale green wood paneling, the reproductions of Pinelli prints of 18th century Rome, the blackboard-written menus, which unlike most Rome restaurants changes daily depending on Quirino's mood and what he finds that morning in the markets, and the owner's sometimes misleadingly gruff personality. The menu can include a wonderful fish ceviche with peppercorns, a delicate filet of orata, coda alla vaccinara or pasta alla vaccinara, made with oxtail sauce.

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Mmmmmm.....zabaione!

For the first time in maybe 20 years, I ordered Zabaione and it was swooningly dleicious so don't miss it. Open evenings only. Outdoor tables in appropriate weather, Closed on Sunday. Average price, €30 a head.

ImageAntica Pesa Via Garibaldi 18 tel 0658331518. www.anticapesa.it.

In the 17th century, the Antica Pesa was an inn serving the peasants who came to pay their taxes to the customs office of the Vatican, which then governed Rome and a hefty hunk of central Italy as well. Today, it is the neighborhood's premier restaurant, run by the fourth generation of the Panella family and which counts movie stars, politicos and ordinary middle-class (and up) Italians and foreigners among its clients. Simone Panella's grade-A food drips with creativity, crudo is ample, and there is an enticing traditional Roman plus menu (a delicious matriciana is made with sausage instead of guanciale and a tortino of roman artichokes with cheese fondue is a luscious appetizer)

Even more unusual for this somewhat laidback neighbourhood, under the guidance of Francesco Panella, the waiters are hotel-schooled professionals who have achieved a beguiling mix of proficiency and friendliness. The décor is unusual - colourful frescoes by 20th century artists coat the walls of the main dining room -and al fresco dining is available in spring and summer in the large, lovely garden, a former "bocce" court, first for visiting farmers and later for neighbourhood residents. A recent three-course dinner for two that included a €35 bottle of wine (one of the less expensive) but none of the shellfish plates cost 160 euros and was great fun. Open lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday. Summer outside diningBooking advisable.

Le Mani in Pasta, Via dei Genovesi 37. Tel 065816017

ImageLe mani in pasta' appeared on the Roman restaurant scene in 2000 and immediately made a hit (if you don't reserve, you're likely to be in for a long wait). A small restaurant with an open kitchen on the "other", less touristy side of Trastevere, near Santa Cecilia, and around the corner from the ruins of Trastevere's oldest synagogue in Vicolo dell'Atleta 14, it is a cross between your friendly local trattoria (the average price per person hovers around the €30 mark) and one of culinary excellence.

In Italian, le mani in pasta means being really involved in something and it is appropriate here given the energy that chef Ivan Piras, making ample use of his Sardinian background, gives to an eatery where fish is not alone but it certainly is king. The food is fresh, well cooked and inventive (pastas include tagliolini with bottarga and tagliatelle with ricotta and pancetta), the fish is suberb (the sea bass baked in salt was the best we ever tasted), and since some people don't like fish, the meat - alla griglia - is also excellent. Desserts include homemade desserts such as millefoglie al cacao. The wine list is ample and the service is good, even when the place gets crowded.

Open every day but Mondays for lunch and dinner. And for smokers, a bonus: A downstairs area (seats 30) where you can pollute your food in peace.

Bir and Fud Via Benedetta, 23; tel 06-556-1677; www.birefud.blogspot.com/

Even if you find the name annoying, this unusual birreria, almost hidden away behind Piazza Trilussa, is a good dinner alternative, especially for younger diners who want to save money and who don't mind noise and crowds. This creative pizzeria offers pizzas, crostini and calzoni but also highly inventive supplì, crochette, bruschette and panzanelle. The selection of beer is also quite original and the waiters, though not true professionals, are friendly and fairly efficient. Open daily from 19:30 to midnight (Fridays and Saturdays closing time is at 2:00a.m.). A pizza, a large crostino with prosciutto and mozzarella, a tris of delicious suppli and three beers ran €42.

 

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