Saturday, October 24, 2009

Seven meals in Rome

Easting out on holiday in Rome was very enjoyable, if highly calorific.  Some of these places I can really recommend.

Tuesday - The guy at the hotel recommended some nearby places but I didn't like the look of them. One was a huge, soulless, empty space and another looked trendy and corporate (a bit like and Italian all-bar-one).  I finally spotted a place called Papa Baccus - pricey, but specializing in high quality meat such as Chianina beef, and ham from their own pigs. I had proscuitti, a fantastic fillet steak with onion sauce and chicory and apple sorbet with calvados. Their feature dish was a T-Bone at 75€ per kilo, clearly meant for sharing. I saw it being served in spectacular fashion to 2 or 3 tables.

Wednesday - Taverna Angelica.  Complementary glass of Prosecco on arrival has to be a good sign. Salted cod salad, pasta with clams and asparagus, crusted lamb cutlets, pineapple carpaccio.  Everything totally delicious. The pasta was especially good, perfectly cooked and with a light lemon sauce. I took their recommendations on wine (Merlot and a Muffato dessert wine) which turned out to be a very good idea. Service was fantastic, especially given that only 2 of them covered the whole restaurant.

Thursday - Pizza at Al Forno della Soffita, a really nice family run sort of place. Neopolitan style, which is what I would call thin crust, compared to the deep-pan chicago style, but apparently Roman style is even thinner. Strangely all the pizza restaurants recommended in my guide book served the Neopolitan style.  Plate of excellent ham to start, pizza amatriciana (bacon!) and fruit salad.  Not fancy but really, really good.

Friday - Not a good start to the evening. Two or three places refused to seat me because I was on my own. Sat down at one place and everything I asked for they didn't have, so I left again.  Finally get a nice terrace seat at Grano in a quiet piazza.  Anchovies and mozzarella salad, roasted chicken, millefoglie with mascarpone.  Not quite up to the standard of the earlier meals, but still really good.  Excellent grappa to finish.

Saturday - Stumble on a bar in Trastevere called Bir and Fud, promising artisanal Italian beer.  Unable to resist either the name or the interesting looking beer menu. Turned out to be a gem, and the find of the holiday. I had no idea there was such a range of excellent micro-brewery beers in Italy. Bitters, porters, stouts, wheat beers, they had them all.  To eat I had bar food, crisps, onion rings and a huge plate of fried cod pieces, hot and succulent in crispy batter and, to drink, way too much beer.

Sunday - Unable to resist Bir and Fud for early evening beers, but I decide to eat at another place recommended in the guide book, Difronte A. What a mistake. The only disappointment of the holiday. A real tourist trap with cheaply prepared, over-priced, flavour-free pseudo-food.  
Monday - No surprise back to Bir and Fud to sample their excellent ales. They are getting to recognise me and I end up in a really interesting discussion with one of the bar staff and one of the owners about all these different beers, plus getting some samples of a couple of beers they have in the cellar but aren't selling yet. There is also a phenomenal range of bottled beers, but sadly most in 75cl bottles.  I did try a couple of smaller ones though, and bought a barley-wine style beer called Geisha to take home.  For food I had a simply fantastic pizza with mushrooms and sausage. So good I was tempted to order another, but good sense prevailed (at least as far as not overeating goes... I could not honestly say I was quite as sensible about the amount of beer I drank). What a great bar!

If you go to Rome, I strongly recommend to try some of these place out, especially Bir and Fud.  Also worth a look are Moma (a good, office workers bar, with upstairs restaurant), Antica Enoteca (wine-bar with great snacks and lots of atmosphere), Caffe Sant'Eustachio (outstanding coffee prepared with a special, secret process) and La Coppelle (for cocktails and aperitivo in an attractive piazza).