Rome – Ostiense – a perfect day in Garbatella

In reality I spent a couple of days wandering around Garbatella, and by writing this I discovered I need to go back a third time to fully explore the corners I’ve missed, but if you are limited for time, here are my highlights.

You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map.

In terms of architecture, in the morning you could walk along Via Fausto Vettor which takes you through the heart of the early ‘baroque’ district. The villas along Vettor and its side streets were the first to be built in the neighbourhood. Near the end of Vettor is the market area with lots of street art, and Piazza Damiano Sauli which seems to be the central square (see previous post for pics).

From there you could head up to Piazza Benedetto Brin and stop for refreshments at Dar Moschino (untested) or do as I did and stop for lunch in Piazza Bartolomeo Romano. In the piazza, the large yellow fascisct-era block on the corner with Via Luigi Fincati is known as Lot VIII. The mural on the side of the building honours Enrico Mancini a left wing activist from Garbatella who was tortured and killed by the fascists.

Under the arch on the left of the building is a great little restaurant…

Ristoro degli Angeli (Intermediate A), 2 Via Luigi Orlando

This tiny but lovely old restaurant has a Michelin Bib Gourmand, awarded for simple yet skilful cooking, and is Listed in 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die. The menu is quite adventurous for a trad place, with some non-Italian influences to keep things interesting for the locals, but I wanted to try the real Roman dishes…

To start, courgette flowers stuffed with ricotta and spinach then oven baked with tomato sauce which was wonderful (A) and to drink, Follino Leda, a local red wine from Frascati which Google has never heard of (B).

The primo was Fregnacce Romane con Broccoli e Pecorino, that is diamond-shaped pasta with local broccoli (looking similar to the ‘tenderstem’ I’ve seen in Waitrose), garlic, olive oil and grated pecorino. So simple but mind blowingly good (A). It was a new pasta for me but I found something similar called Taccozzette in Salumeria Volpetti back in Testaccio.

I liked it so much I worked out the recipe for it…

Pasta with Broccoli

100g pasta per person (Fregnacce/Taccozzette/Orecchiette for choice)
2 cloves garlic per person
100g broccoli per person (or psb/asparagus/wild garlic/similar greens)
Pecorino (or Parmesan) freshly grated
Olive oil – chilli infused perhaps?

Heat the pasta water, add salt and the whole garlic cloves
Start cooking the pasta with a timer
Chop the broccoli into 1cm lengths, stems and all
Add the broccoli to the pasta 5 mins before the pasta is ready
Remove the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon
Skin and mash the garlic in a little olive oil
Toss cooked pasta and broccoli in garlic mash and a bit more olive oil
Grate over the cheese and toss again
Taste, season and eat

For the second course, Polpette con Salsa Tzatziki, meatballs with a greek yogurt dip, a bit boring but nice enough (B).

And finally a spectacular seasonal dessert, Contrasto de Angeli; a chestnut glacée with nicely contrasting flavours of bitter yoghurt and sweet caramel (B+), alongside a glass of sweet Passito wine from Pantelleria.

And to send me on my merry way, a tasting of three digestivos made on the premises; Elisir di More (blackberry), Cedrima (lemon verbena, not the big lemon) and Mentuccia (a local mint variety). Can’t remember which was best, but they were all good!

If you still have some energy after this, you could take in the fascist-era buildings in Piazza Michele da Carbonara and Piazza Eugenio Biffi (see previous post), finishing off with a spot of shopping nearby…

Mercatino Usato Roma Garbatella, 25 Via Manfredo Camperio,

This is a branch of a chain of second hand co-ops run ‘by the people, for the people’. If someone has something they want to sell, they can bring it here and put it on display, and if it’s sold, they share the proceeds with the shop. It was a bit hard to find, in a cellar at the bottom of a ramp, under a tower block, but well worth the effort.

I picked up a vintage silver Cinzano bar spoon and a retro Guzzini bread bin here for very little. There was also a Lalique ashtray and several stacks of modernist furniture that made me wish I had a flat to furnish.

So that was pretty much a perfect day for me with some nice architecture, a great meal and a junkshop all in the mix.

Now we’re off to EUR, the next neighbourhood to the south, for another architecture walk…

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