Testaccio is a nirvana for foodies. As well as the wonderful food market, it has some excellent restaurants. Below I review Da Remo (definitive pizza Romana), Checchino Dal 1887 (traditional food, amazing cellar), Trattoria Perilli (great carbonara), and The Meat Market (a steak house). I’ve dedicated a separate post to my favourite eatery in the neighbourhood, Felice a Testaccio (cacio e pepe, roast lamb).
Trattoria Perilli (High Intermediate A), 39 Via Marmorata (at Via Galvani), www.trattoria-romana.it , open Thursday to Tuesday 12:30–3pm and 7:30–11pm, reservations recommended
An old school trattoria (I love the lettering on their sign), also Listed in 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die. I happened to be passing and tried my luck getting in for lunch one day without a reservation, and was fortunate to be given a short slot, so it’s definitely a good idea to book ahead.
To begin I had another local classic Rigatoni alla Carbonara simply made with guanciale (pork cheek), eggs, grated Pecorino Romano, salt and freshly-ground black pepper (A).
I followed up with their Animelle di Abbacchio (B+), suckling lamb sweetbreads, with a bowl of Scarola, Olive e Capperi, (escraole, another bitter green, olives and capers) which was great (B+) and a half bottle of my old friend Satrico from Aprilia (A).
With wine, water and a coffee, I paid €51, which isn’t cheap but par for the course in a good restaurant in Rome.
Checchino dal 1887 (High Intermediate B+), 30 Via di Monte Testaccio, www.checchino-dal-1887.com , closed Monday and Sunday evening
One of Rome’s oldest restaurants, since 1870. This is the place to come if you like a bit of history with your offal! Even if you don’t, you should come just to check out the wine cellar which has been cut out of Monte Testaccio, a roman rubbish dump for amphorae (clay vessels for transporting mainly oil and wine). Video here. The restaurant is still owned by the same family that carved it out of the hill 150 years earlier. Brothers Elio Mariani (in the kitchen) and Francesco (front of house) run the restaurant and a mixologist nephew runs the cocktail bar upstairs (open at weekends).
Sadly I lost my photos but for the record I had the historical tasting menu for €65, and a bottle of wine for €20. The set dishes were; Insalata di Zampi (veal calves foot boiled, boned and served in a salad with carrots, beans, celery and salsa verde), Rigatoni con Pajata (short pasta tubes with a sauce made with of tomatoes and intestine of suckling lamb sprinkled with Pecorino Romano), Bucatini alla Gricia ( hollow spaghetti in a white sauce made with Pecorino, rendered pig’s cheek and black pepper), Coda alla Vaccinara (Ox-tail stewed in a tomato sauce with celery, pine nuts, raisins and a little bitter chocolate), Cicoria di Campo (pan-fried wild chicory with garlic and chilli pepper), Piccola Degutazione di Pecorino Romano, Fresco e Stagionato (a small tasting of fresh and seasoned ewe’s-milk cheese), and finally Torta di Ricotta con Gocce di Cioccolato e Mandorle Grattate (ricotta tart with chocolate chips and grated almonds). I also failed to take any notes as I was too busy chatting with Francesco but I remember the food as being interesting and very good but not amazing (an overall B). With cover, water and a couple of digestivi the bill came to €98.
They have a vegetarian and a la carte menus as well. I’d definitely like to go back one day.
Pizzeria Da Remo (Elementary A), 44 Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice, www.facebook.com, closed Sunday
If you want to taste real Pizza Romana, this is the place to come. I began with three fritti; a Suppli (rice ball), a Crocchete (croquette) and a Fiore di Zucca (deep fried, stuffed courgette flower). The main event was the Pizza Margherita di Bufala which was wonderful; wafer thin and crispy, allowing the toppings to dominate (A). As it was so thin I was able to follow up with a second pizza; ‘Remo’ the house special with mushrooms, eggplant and sausage, but it wasn’t quite as satisfying (B+). With two 500ml Moretti Baffo d’Oro beers I spent €31.
The Meat Market, 157 Via Marmorata, www.facebook.com/themeatmarketrome
People’s experience of this Testaccio branch of a small steak house chain seems to vary greatly. Mine wasn’t great (okay food, bad service), but the friend who recommended it had a wonderful time.
Looing at the negative reviews, it seems they don’t always have all the items on the menu, so it might be worth checking if they have what you want to avoid disappointment. I went in November 2020 during the Covid period when a lot of businesses in the area were suffering, so maybe it’s better now as people have started to go out more.
The meat is excellent quality, if a bit on the pricey side.
I began with some Arrosticini (also known as Spiedini), grilled skewers of simply-seasoned diced lamb, typical of Abruzzo. The Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini ‘Ottosecoli E’Ssenza’, a red wine from Tuscany, was just okay (C+).
The steak was pretty good (B+) but there weren’t enough fries and the second batch I had were undercooked and dripping in oil (C+). I had to ask for more dips from the lazy young waiter when they should have been automatic.
Worth a visit though if you’re craving large amounts of meat!
My favourite restaurant in Testaccio next!