Monti is the neighbourhood to the south and south-west of the Hotel Colombia and Termini station, as far as the Colloseum. I’m told it’s an up-and-coming area amongst the trendsetters.
This excellent restaurant is my favourite place to eat in the area…
Trattoria Monti (High Intermediate A), 13A Via di San Vito, closed Sunday lunch and Monday
I tried to get in here a couple of times but it’s very popular so reservations are strongly recommended. It’s owned and run by the Camerucci family, originally from Marche, and the restaurant specialises in the cuisine of this tiny region.
My companion and I were welcomed with glasses of Mescita Bianco. Sadly I lost my photos which is a shame as the star of the show was the Pasta Tartufo Bianco a Acgualagna, a single, huge ravioli filled with runny, really yellow egg yolk and topped with shavings of black truffle, which was superb (A+) , but then so it should be at €25 (now €40 apparently). Acqualagna is a comune in central Marche which is one of the main centers in Italy for truffles.
For my second course I had roasted quail with potatoes and yet more truffles. My companion had the Tortino Radicchio (chicory tartlet) to start and followed with Calamaro Ripieno (stuffed squid), all of which was excellent. Likewise the drinks; a bottle of Marchese white and a final Amaro called Amaro dell’Erborista by Distilleria Varnelli who I had also encountered at Roscioli Deli (see my Early Start post). The total spend for two was €115 which was great value given the quality. The service was excellent too. I’m definitely going back.
Another Italian restaurant I would have liked to have gone to but didn’t have time is Vecchia Roma www.trattoriavecchiaroma.it at 12/b/c Via Ferruccio, where they flambe your pasta in a giant Parmesan wheel, which sounds pretty spectacular.
Maharajah (Intermediate A), 124 Via Serpenti, www.maharajah1.com
There are three Indian restaurants in this area of town, but this one is the best. It even gets a mention in Gambero Rosso, a rare accolade for an non-Italian restaurant. My visit was in 2011 but it was still open in 2020 when I last checked.
The service is very attentive. Upon arrival I got a complimentary glass of Prosecco as well as the usual pickle tray and papadoms. There are lots of tempting dishes on offer in the leather-bound à la carte menu but make sure you check out the three tasting menus they have on offer; veg, meat and fish, all sounding very good, and in the range of €20-24. I went for the meat option and received a drumstick of Tandoori Chicken, a Rogan Josh, a Saag Aloo and a Channa Dahl with pilau rice and naan, all excellent.
There were lots of Indian families eating here too which further recommends the place. The atmosphere is luxurious but the lighting is a little dark. In short, a posh restaurant selling refined but authentic Indian food that’s very good value for money.
There are three Irish pubs in the area, all with the same owner. I think the best craic is probably to be had at The Fiddler’s Elbow at 43 Via dell’ Olamata. It’s a dive and the beer isn’t great but it has more atmosphere than the others and they often stay open till 1am or later. Some punters sometimes bring Irish instruments for a jam in the back room. The Druid’s Den around the corner at 5 Via Sant Martino ai Monti is ok too but smaller whereas the nearer Druid’s Rock at 1 Piazza dell Esquilino is the best place for watching football.
And one to avoid…
Ristorante al Viminale (Intermediate C), 3 via Palermo (down the side of Minestero Interno).
In 2011, this was the cheapest Italian restaurant I found near the Hotel Columbia so I gave it a whirl for research purposes. The €15 Menu Touristico gives you a choice of one first and one second course but no drinks. There’s no cover charge either, but you still get some tasteless unsalted bread. I had their Rigatoni Amatriciana which was overcooked, and the breaded cutlet was very poor and served with cold chips. The red wine was just about drinkable at €4 a half litre. The only atmosphere was provided by Milan vs Roma on the TV. No need to reserve, the place was empty when other better places nearby had queues outside.