Rome – Centro Storico – a nice meal on the Isola Tiberina

The Isola Tiberina is a long, boat-shaped island in the Tiber. It’s the only island in the river as it passes through Rome.

It’s connected to the right bank (the Jewish Ghetto in Rione Sant’Angelo) by the Ponte Fabricio. Built by the Romans in 62BC, it’s the oldest bridge in Rome.

You can find it on my Google map.

The island’s cobbled streets and 10th century basilica are particularly atmospheric in the twilight.

And there’s a classic Roman restaurant here…

Trattoria Sora Lella (High Intermediate B+), 16 Via di Ponte Quattro Capi,

It’s really hard to reserve a table at Sora Lella. It was easier for me during the Covid period as there were fewer tourists, but it still took a few days and I only got in on the reserve list. My table was inside on the quieter first floor, which I think I preferred to sitting outside.

I only had time for two quick courses as I was meeting friends and as usual went for local classics. The antipasti course was Polpettine: traditional veal meatballs in a tomato sauce which were fine but nothing out of the ordainary (B).

Next I had the Tonnarelli alla Cuccagna: chunky, long, square pasta tossed in egg, pecorino, smoked pancetta, walnuts and fourteen other ‘secret’ ingredients, at least according to the waiter. It wasn’t a looker but it had great flavour.

When I got back to the UK I had a go at making something similar (using only the nine ingredients below, one of which was Gloucester Old Spot sausage) and I’d say it turned out to be even tastier than the one pictured, if perhaps less refined and a bit more calorific! But that’s in keeping with the name which has connotations of luxury and excess (‘cuccagna’ best translates as ‘easy living’ or ‘the life of Riley’, paese della cuccagna means ‘the land of milk and honey’). Anyway, it’s tasty. Enjoy.

Pasta alla Cuccagna

Ingredients to serve 4:

400g tonnarelli or chitarra (long types of pasta)
300g sausage meat
100g pancetta/guinciale/bacon
50g pecorino
50g walnuts
1 egg
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper


Shell and coarsely chop/pestle the walnuts.
Peel the sausage and crumble/mash into small pieces.
Sauté the sausage meat in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Add the diced pancetta/bacon and let it all brown.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta till ‘al dente’.
Add the pasta to the pan with the meat.
In a bowl, mix the pecorino cheese with egg and season.
Add to the pan with the walnuts and sauté a few moments.
Serve immediately with another sprinkling of grated pecorino.

And if you made it, please tell me how you got on in the comments section below.

Eating in the Castro Pretorio district next…

Leave a Reply