Rome – Centro Storico – a great meal by the Pantheon

I’ve never been inside the Pantheon because the hordes of tourists swarming around it have always put me off. On my visit in November 2020 during the pandemic, it made a pleasant change to find the square relatively empty, although the building was still shut to the public.

The lack of tourists meant that I could get into this small restaurant just a stonesthrow away, which normally I imagine you’d have to book weeks ahead…

Armando al Pantheon (Intermediate A), 31 Salita de’ Crescenzi,

I tried several local classics here, be warned that some of them might not be to your taste!

I started with an autumnal selection of bruschetta with walnuts and Lardo di Colonnata, which is generally considered ‘the best’ lardo as it’s cured in marble basins for several months. I loved it (A).

To drink the somellier recommended a bottle of Cirsium Cesanese di Olevano Romano Riserva. In the past I’ve not been a huge fan of Cesanese but this was my best experience of it (B+).

For the pasta course, a Roman classic: Rigatoni con la Pajata; large cuffs of pasta served with the intestines of an unweaned calf stewed in a tomato sauce. The intestines are cleaned but the chyme (partly digested food, in this case the mother’s milk) is left inside and when cooked forms a cheese-like sauce. Doesn’t sound great but I thoroughly enjoyed it (B+).

For the second course a daily special of Puntarelle (bitter shoots of a local chicory) with grilled veal on a bed of mash. It was interesting, and the splash of soya sauce on the sprouts made it almost Asian, but I would probably have enjoyed the other dishes on the menu more (C+). Still, you don’t know unless you try.

The cheese board was a bit of an excess but enjoyable (B). The waiter suggested I take a walk around the Parthenon and back to make room for it!

An espresso and a shot of local Amaro Formadible finished things off nicely.

A definite recommend if you can get in!

Here’s my Google map to help you find it.

More food on the Isola Tiberina next…

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