The Esquiline Hill is one of the Seven Hills of Rome. The three restaurants reviewed below are due south from Termini Station, in the streets around Giardino di Piazza Vittorio, about twenty minutes walk east from the Hotel Colombia where many of my colleagues stay. Here’s a neighbourhood map and my personal map of the whole of Rome.
This first restaurant is a good place to try rustic, traditional Roman cuisine at a reasonable price…
Vecchia Roma (Intermediate B), 12/b/c Via Ferruccio, www.trattoriavecchiaroma.it
‘Old Rome’ is in an atmospheric cellar just to the south of Giardino di Piazza Vittorio.
I went for lunch and had the €27 Menu Vecchia Roma. After an introductory tomato-topped bruschetta, I had the Bucatini Amatriciana: long pasta in a bacon and tomato sauce. One of the selling points of this restaurant is that they flambé your pasta in a giant Parmesan wheel, which sounds pretty spectacular, so I was a bit disappointed when they didn’t do it at my table. Next time I’ll ask them to wheel the trolley over so I can get some pictures.
For the second course, two Roman classics on the same plate; Coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail stewed in tomato sauce) and Trippa alla Romana (tripe in tomato sauce with pine nuts). Roast potatoes and salad came on the side. It was all quite simple and rustic but enjoyable (B).
A Limoncello and a Pannacotta in a red berry sauce finished things off.
For the €27 you also get a quartino of wine, a mezzo of water, a coffee and a digestivo, so it’s pretty good value. You don’t have to make my choices of course. There’s lots more on the menu and they do pizzas too. The service is good and English speaking (not that that matters to me).
This next 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
Despite the name, this restaurant is in Esquilino, not Monti, but only by a couple of streets. 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.
On arrival, my companion and I were welcomed with glasses of fizz. 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 white 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 were excellent. Likewise the drinks; a bottle of Marchese white and a final Amaro called Amaro dell’Erborista by Distilleria Varnelli which 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.
Trattoria da Danilo (B+ for flavour, D for attitude), 13 Via Petrarca, closed Sunday
After saving up for a good restaurant by eating cheaply for a few days, I thought I would treat myself and try this Gambero Rosso recommended restaurant. The ambience was pleasant with lots of old photos on the walls.
It’s run by a young couple who were generally pleasant but I didn’t like the brusque way the lady owner spoke to a couple of Japanese tourists who were having vocab confusions. By contrast the waitress was very nice to me.
I began with Tonnarelli Tartufo Nero e Porcini, thick spaghetti in a sauce of black truffles and mushrooms (A), followed by Abbacchio Panato alla Romana, breaded and fried lamb chops (B). The chops were too small to satisfy me so I followed up with a second secondo of Filetto di Manzo Grigliato al Pecorino di Fossa, beef fillet in a cheese sauce. It was very good but served on a freezing cold plate which detracted from the overall pleasure (A-). Washed down with a bottle of red, and finishing with a fancy pud and a great grappa (Sibona ‘Piemontese’ Moscato), my bill came to an extremely greedy €82.50.
This is obviously a restaurant with aspirations to be really good but I felt it was failing in a few areas and I don’t feel the need to go again.
Place to eat in Monti next…