As you’d expect there’s a string of good seafood restaurants around the harbour in Anzio. I managed four of them in three days, all enjoyable for different reasons. I list them below in order of expense. There are also a few suggestions for other places that I didn’t have time to go to.
Da Carlo (Elementary A), 9 Via Padre Lombardi, on the corner with Via Porto Neroniano, open every day.
Recommended by a colleague, this is a very plain and quite dilapidated family restaurant where you can get good seafood for next to nothing.
I had four plates of antipasti; prawns, octopus, fish and a big bowl of steamed mussels, all of which were delicious (B+). With a half-litre of not particularly nice house white (C) and a shot of shop-bought Sicilian limoncello (B), the bill came to €15; an absolute bargain.
La Fraschetta del Mare (Intermediate B+), 38 Corso del Popolo, closed Monday.
I had the Menu Fraschetta which involved ten dishes of antipasti (all B+/C), for €16.
My favourites (all A) were the Insalata di Palamite, a salad involving a small member of the tuna family, Sgombro Cotto al Vapore con Salsa di Cipolle Caramellate, aka steamed mackerel with caramelised onion, and the Merluzzo al Gratin or hake baked with cheese.
The Polenta con Ragu di Mare, Couscous al Sugo di Baccala and Insalata Verde were all fine, as was the fillet of Marmora, a local white fish (all B).
I wasn’t that impressed with the Sughero con Brocolletti Ripassati, nor the Spaghetti Vongole al Sugo di Tomate which seemed an unusual combination (both C).
The Lumachine alla Marinara, sea snails with a tomato sauce, were interesting but I didn’t finish them as I was full (B-).
With a half litre of okay house white (B-) and a homemade limoncello (A), the total cost was a measly €26. Another steal.
Pierino (Advanced A-), 3 Piazza Cesare Battisti
Considered by the locals and many of the guides to be the best place in town, it is indeed very good but comes second to Romolo below in my humble opinion.
The dining room is quite plain and simple and the service is very efficient but not particularly effervescent. The owner seems quite dour but he was considerate and attentive and even gave me a complimentary spoonful of sturgeon eggs when I asked what ‘caviale’ was on the menu.
Before that I began with the Antipasto Misto Mare (all A/B) which involved a plate of diced grilled squid and two canapés with some undetermined white fish.
Then a mix of battered and fried squid and sardines.
This was followed by a Mazzancolle (king prawn) on a bed of mashed potato (B) alongside a red prawn with tiny slices of raw artichoke.
Also a fillet of Marmora with a pine nut sauce next to a grantinated crayfish.
The standout (A) was a salad of diced squid with lambs lettuce and strawberries, over which the waiter grated bottarga secchi (dried grey mullet roe).
I still felt a bit hungry/greedy so the owner recommended I follow up with an excellent pasta dish of fresh handmade spaghetti with prawns and wild asparagus (A).
The owner recommended a local Chardonnay called Sara by La Luna del Casale which had an unusual flavour not entirely to my liking (C+).
I asked for a local digestif but was given an Amaro Montenegro from Bologna, an okay (B) but somewhat perfumey amaro to my taste.
The total came to €55 I think, which was fine given the quality of the seafood, however I would probably go to this next place instead if I were to return to Anzio.
Romolo al Porto (Advanced A+), 19/20 Via Porto Innocenziano, closed Wednesday.
This is a fantastic seafood restaurant frequented by celebrities but affordable for everyone. The people leaving as I arrived were chefs from a Michelin starred restaurant who had come for lunch and stayed for seven hours!
The multi-lingual service is exemplary and Walter Regolanti the very personable chef-proprietor is always front of house interacting with his customers. He’s quite a character as his replies to negative reviews on Tripadvisor show! Noticing I was taking so many photos, he was keen to show me his lobsters, recently caught by the restaurant’s own trawler.
They have two antipasti menus (unwritten so ask for them); crudo (raw) and cotto (cooked). Walter told me that of course the best thing would to be to have both, and as this was my last night treat, I didn’t need convincing.
I had no idea what I had let myself in for, and it was a good job I’d changed my table for a four person one because it was twice covered with plates, around twenty in all. These pictures don’t show all of it!
Each dish held a couple of goblets of top quality seafood, generally dressed very simply with olive oil. I was told what they all were but there were too many to remember. These are just the more photogenic items. It all scored A/B with only one or two disappointments.
Things that stuck in the memory were the pepperoncino marmalade (B+) which came with some deep-fried squid tentacles (B).
Also the raw Palamite tuna here was very nice (A) as was the ‘fish salad’ (A) served on the local flatbread, Pane Musica (B), so called because it makes a musical sound when it’s broken!
I love prawns and I don’t think I’ve had them in so many different ways.
I had a Sauvignon Blanc from Lazio called Follia which was pretty good (B).
After that lot I couldn’t manage a dessert but was given a few complimentary grappas; one called Giroi (A), poured from the biggest grappa bottle I’ve ever seen!
The second was a dark barrique (barrel-aged ) from Trentino called Torba Nera (B).
I was prepared for a hefty triple figure bill but I nearly fell off my seat when it came in at just €60. This is of course a fair chunk of money but still a bargain considering just how much top quality seafood I’d had.
A waiter told me that the restaurants either side also belong to Romolo, the one to the right serving sushi. Must try it next time.
Another highly recommended place is Al Turcotto (44 Riviera Vittorio Mallozzi, near Villa Nero, ristoranteturcotto.it) which has a good sea view. I’ve mapped this and a few other restaurants, gleaned from several Italian and English guides, onto this Google map.
I also wanted to go to Peppetto (turn right out of the hotel and after a hundred meters you’ll see it in a corner of a small square on the left) because in their Sala Romana in the basement you can see the wall of the old Roman Amphitheatre. No idea what the food is like though.
And you could, as a teacher suggested, walk over to neighbouring Nettuno for restaurants in a more picturesque setting.
Enoteca Del Gatto, 2 Via Giuseppe Mazzini, www.enotecadelgatto.it
This is an excellent deli that also has an adjoining wine bar, although perhaps the bar only opens in the summer. I mistimed my shopping trip and went on Thursday when it was closed. Doh!
Happily though I managed to get a few delicacies, such as some locally tinned sardines by Pollastrini, from the Buccolini Supermarket around the corner at 14 Via Adua.
Anzio has an outdoor market a bit out of the centre on Via Antium. It’s next to the school I was working at so at lunchtime I got a huge Porchetta Romana sandwich (roasted suckling pig with garlic, rosemary, sage and fennel stuffing) from a deli van for €2.50.
It was some of the best Porchetta I’ve had (A). It’s easy to see why it was the epicurean Emperor Nero’s favourite food.
In short, expect to eat very well in Anzio!