[Rome] Visit 2023

Im going to start out this topic with an observation: social media and online reservations
have changed the dining and travel scene here in Rome. It feels like everybody is chasing meals and tickets at the same few restaurants and attractions . Places that are decidedly NOT Michelin star establishments are filling their bookings a month ahead. So if you are dedicated to going to say Flavio al Velavevodetto better get cracking. Likewise if you want to see the Borghese Gallery. However the number and depth of restaurants and attractions in Rome is astounding. Do your homework and have fallbacks, there is nothing essential

Our first full day in Rome was a Sunday, the day of the first Rome Marathon since the pandemic, and it ran through the Testaccio area. Not an auspicious moment to try to walk in at Flavio even arriving at opening time. We saw three obvious tourist couples turned away, and decided to head to Volpetti Taverna, which had been dead empty when we walked by. We readily obtained a seat (it subsequently filled) and had a very tasty, relaxed non-traditional lunch. While they offer the holy trinity of Roman pastas and other specialties, they feature a broad mix of products and tastes from all over the country with creative touches. We started with puntarelle, the crunchy bitter green dressed with a lemony anchovy dressing, very refreshing, following up with a very enjoyable gnocchi with mussels, clams and salicornia and chitarra pasta with intensely delicious arrabiata sauce made with cannocchie. Then we shared a stew of wild boar in a complex dolceforte sauce with pinenuts raisins and pumpkin, by which time we were chatting over our bottle of Montalcino Rosso with our neighboring table and ordered for dessert a very fine robiola cheesecake with a coating of passionfruit puree, crumble and wild strawberries. Its a modern place, not cushy, tables rather close, young servers proud of the food they were offering. Bill was around €120, well worth it.

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@JenKalb , could you try uploading some photos again, in a reply? The upload only worked for the first photo, as far as I can tell.


Sorry I am finding this interface a little awkward on my ipad


Works great, the pics are crystal clear!


It happens frequently when I upload photos, too, and the edit window is brief!

The photos look great! :slight_smile:

Sometimes you can’t upload too many photos at once. I usually upload only about 3 at once. I think it’s about the cache overflowing or cloud storage overflowing. Not sure.

We have often bought things at Volpetti but never enjoyed a meal inside. We will have to rectify our mistake!

Thanks for the review! Excited to check it out later this week.

We had a second meal at Taverna Volpetti Friday - it was not as good as our earlier meal, though the food was very attractively presented. My baccala in a crust starter with rooasted pepper and roasted pepper and tomato sauces was very, nice and my husband’s testaroli with pesto, beans and potatoes also, but his l raw swordfish starter which was described as including wild fennel, was deficient in flavor as an overall dish tho the pieces of swordfish themselves were delicious and the dish beautiful on the plate . There was a pale green sauce at the bottom of the dish, in which a fennel flavor could be discerned but only after I went and read the dish description. My dish of trentino strangolopreti was advertised as being with leeks and sage and brown sauce. The rather pasty dumplings were bathed in a leek puree which amplified the blandness;, there was no sage in the dish which would have brought it alive. Finally we had a very nice piece of grilled octopus laid over as I recall a pepper sauce and an avocado sauce. Again pretty, but the avocado sauce might as well have been pea puree. Based on our two meals, I would say that the chef can cook well, but I would stick with simpler cooked rather than creative composed dishes if you go. Husband said he was not disposed to return. I discussed our disappointment at length with the hostess. We found two alternatives very good alternatives nearby, more later.


Jumping back in time to day 2, we had to run an unexpected errand and wound up in the historic center at lunch time. I had seen a recent recommendation of da Fortunato al Pantheon, one of the old line white tablecloth places on that area and noticing they were reservable on the Fork I made a last minute reservation there. I remember well being turned away in the past from their room full of well dressed Roman busissmen, politicians and shoppers. Times have changed and the restaurant (admittedly this was a Monday) was not busy, we could have easily walked in. There was one table of interest to watch with one senior guy and his very deferential aides, handshaking and introductions with people at other tables. I love this aspect of the neighborhood. The old school uniformed waiters were charming, the gleaming silverware was changed with each course and there was a tempting display of seafood in the window. Our meal was just as it should have been, the fried zucchini blossoms we started with were ample and perfect, the carbonara and cacio pepe pastas we ordered were typical and tasty - my carbonara particularly creamy won top honors since my husband forgot to stir his cacio e pepe up promptly (since some pasta water is added to the dish to help melt the cheese its important to stir to get the right consistency), and my dish of beef strachetti over arugula and husbands roast pork were fine. I think this a good option in this central area which can be difficult - another one we have tried in past visits is Grano which we noticed is still in operation. Sorry no pics of this meal.


@JenKalb if you are still in Testaccio I’ll suggest Masto. Had a fab dinner there tonight and hope to return later this week. We had a delicious cutting board with a really interesting selection of mortadellas, cheese and Parma ham, artichoke lasagna and a tasty sour cherry crostata to finish. Wine list is pretty great, too, and dreamy service. Great little spot!


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Meal at Piatti Romani with ambitious menu of traditional style dishes using lots of local ingredients. Plenty of herbs and wild things, traditional meats in the Testaccio vein, informal style and service.
We started with a plate of marinated sardines, very fresh tasting and some radicchio selvatico dressed simply and wonderfully with salty greasy fried guanciale bits.

Our primi were rigatoni alla pajata, which I had never tried in all our Rome visits. The savory tomato sauce includes pieces of milk fed veal intestine, which are very tender and filled with milk. It was a very mild and flavorful dish. Then my husband ordered their cacio e pepe selvatico which was made withwild madagascar pepper, which is a bit reddish and the peppercorns are tailed - it made for a delicious variation on the traditional pepe nero! Made with bucatini, the dish was perfect.

We were already full with the ample pasta portions but we went onto a delicious coda alla vaccinara, meat totally tender, and for Jim rabbit, which was well cooked, with a vinegar scented sauce, he enjoyed.
We drank a bottle of Frascati with this meal, our last of the visit. I will be very happy to go back an explore more of their menu on anther occasion! I mean the plate of yellow squash eaten as her whole meal at the adjoining table looked scrumtious - and I dont even like yellow squash.


OSTERIA FRATELLI MORI on a quiet side street off the Via Ostiense near the Piramid of Cestius we found this lowkey restaurant. Obviously well established without our knowing about it the polished crew served up good food to a knowing local crowd. Pleasant decor (adaptive reuse of an old space involved whitewashed walls with texts on the walls windows into the kitchen and billows of brown above, very pleasant. We started with toasted bread topped with slices of sweet butter and anchovies, a great combo, and roasted slices of veal tongue with pickles and green sauce.

After that we shared a serving of well made cacio e pepe, followed by fried polpette with the shells filled with delicate shredded beef and tender pork cheeks cooked at low temp with red wine.

A bottle of natural Lazio red and a plate of braised chicory filled out our meal, all for €102.


I cant find a post I made midway through this trip mentioning a few other places we had went that I had not had time to write up. It seems to have disappeared - I am going to try to rectify this now, since we had a couple of really great meals I did not report on.

First, we had a very nice stylish lunch at CECILIA SANTA CUCINA in Trastevere. We had gone over there to check out St. Cecilia’s church and some other places, and wound up without lunch plans on a Saturday. Called Cesare’s and the hostest scoffed at me. We had walked by Da Enzo’s earlier and figured, why not? Wasted time getting over there and by opening time they were filling and there were huge lines of young people (the kind who enjoy standing in long lines everywhere!) Anyway, we were sort of glad, and walked a couple of blocks away where restaurants werent even starting lunch service yet and booked at table at Cecilia Santa Cucina which was taking a veg delivery and had what turned out to be well deserved good reviews. , a good wine was ordered, and I settled down in the comfortable, quiet dining room to enjoy watching the very organized chefs in the open kitchen. We agreed to take the three course tasting menu for a very reasonable 38 euros after being reassured that they put their best dishes on it.
A varied and delicious bread basket came out with some very tasty anchovy buttter

Next we were presented with gilded olive glazed profiteroles, stuffed with creamy cod, under s smoke dome. This was maybe the least successful dish since the olive flavor did not come through all that well but it was still very good and very fun.

Next we were served a very convincing and delicious reconstructed carbonara, garnished with shards of fried artichoke and zucchini flowers

The secondo was a lovely hunk of tender roast suckling pig, garnished with puntarelle, and, I think a pepper based sauce (hard to photograph this dish, which was great)

We though we were done, but they comped up with a spectacular nougat cigar , pretty sweet but good, and even presented some little extra treats. All this, including wine for 116E made this one of our better value meals in Rome. This ambitious and competent kitchen is very well worth checking out in Trastevere.


another place worth mentioning is IL BOCCONCINO, on via Ostilia just off the very touristically crowded Via Quattro Santi near the Colosseum. Formerly in the Slowfood guide, it bills itself as a rustic taverna, and just as it was the last time we visited almost 10 years ago, it delivered well cooked savory food on this visit. I remembered wonderful cacio e pepe and a good baccala dish from the fist visit - this time though, I ordered a tube pasta with coda alla vaccinara sauce and for my second, a dish of moscardini (a kind of tiny octopus). both of these dishes were delicious.

My husband ordered a pasta with duck based ragu and a king of a rural kebab. These dishes were ok, he liked them, but I was much happier with my order.
While this place is not a destination restaurandt I think it is a very worthy port in a storm if you happen to be in this area.


Final meal (a Sunday Lunch) was at a Slowfood place I had wanted to visit for many years, Tram Tram.
On an unprepossessing street in San Lorenzo area surrounded by tram tracks (in a part of rome that still has trams running) this is a vintage trattoria with a great spirit, style and cooking. Amazingly, reservations can be obtained online. We were just about the first to arrive and the place filled up rapidly with happy Sunday lunchers, old and young. the spirited waitresses used a blackboard to show arriving tables the specials, a very good idea!

I cannot remember (no pic) of what we had to start, but the fried anchovies being served to many tables looked fantastic. Jim had a classic cacio pepe with, I think some zucchini shreds for his primo, I had one of their puglia-influenced dishes, a perfect tielle of rice, mussels. and potatoes.

Jim went on to enjoy lamb, a sizeable but tender portion of the burn-your-fingers rome version, while I had the Tortino di alici ed indivia, a delicately assembled mound of anchovies, endives bound together with a bread crumbs, oil and other seasonings., excellent. Seeing that others were being served big plates of puntarelle we followed suit, very refreshing!

We finished with a mysterious tart filled I believe the waitress said, with a mixture including grape must, marmlade, citrus peel and nuts - the waitress told us it was a recipe from the abruzzi.

This is a place I long to return to.