Rome Restaurant Tips by TheWanderingCamel
Rome Restaurants: 1,186 reviews and 1,231 photos
This was a lunch to die for. We met our friend in the middle of the Isola Tiberia, walked across the Ponte Cestio and into Trastevere where she headed unerringly for her favourite restaurant, the Osteria de Gensola. With its tucked-away location on a quiet square and unassuming entrance - simply "Trattoria" painted over the door and the day's menu chalked on a blackboard, no outside tables the day we were there, you could easily pass this place by, but you'd be missing a real treat.
Housed in a XVth century palazzo, golden walls, lots of mellow wood, red tablecoths, flowers and a central table laden with luscious-looking desserts create a welcoming atmosphere as you enter. Once we were seated at a table in an inner room, the serious business of deciding what to eat began. We left the choice to our friend and the waiter - and the feast that resulted was vindication of the wisdom of that decision.
Booking is essential here at the della Gensola - as we discovered when we returned with MrL and some friends a couple of nights later.
Favorite Dish: Regional cooking with more than a nod towards Sicily is the style here. Our lunch began with a little antipasti - stuffed and fried olives, a flavourful octopus salad and - my favourites - stuffed zucchini flowers.
The tradtional Italian lunch of primi and secondi piatti is usually beyond me, but with so many good things on the menu here, we managed it by sharing dishes - 2 pastas between three of us, and the same with the main courses. Eating Italian style - slowly, slowly - a two hour lunch - helped us to manage a small dessert as well.
Ravioli stuffed with tuna and asparagus was wonderful, as was the linguini with anchovies and pecorino. Grilled squid and a fennel salad were a perfect combination but the standout was stracciato of eggplant and beef. Stracciatto means shredded and that's what this was, the finest strips of meat and the vegetable both cooked to melting tenderness, beautifully seasoned and simply presented.
Strawberries in a citrus sauce finished the meal - and us - off to perfection.
We were guests at this restaurant and didn't even see a menu once we were seated inside so I have no idea of what this cost, but, if I'd been paying, I'd have been happy with the bill, whatver it was.
Address: Piazza Gensola 15, Trastavere
Phone: 06 5816312
What to choose
It's so easy to eat really well in Rome, at what ever level you're spending. Although not every meal we ate was a great gastronomic experience, there was only one meal that disappointed us - and that was at a very expensive catered function at Hadrian's Villa - a fabulous setting and food that wasn't up to an Italian Night fundraiser run by the local tennis club. The rest of the time wherever we ate - small osterie in quiet side streets, smart ristorante in fashionable areas, Trastevere trattorie, the cafeteria at Termini, the cafe on the corner by our hotel - and whatever we'd ordered - Roman specialities, exquisitely prepared fine dining dishes, gutsy regional fare, crusty paninis, lunchtime salads, delicious gelati - we always felt we'd eaten well and had had good value for our money.
Even the usual rule of avoiding touristy areas didn't really hold true. Admittedly, we didn't eat at any place bang on the doorstep of a major tourist site, but the lunch we ate down a side street within a line of sight of the Colosseum was both very reasonable and quite delicious, and a very large place near the Spanish Steps and packed to the rafters with tourists and locals had each one of our group of 6 virtullay licking their plates.
Favorite Dish: Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best - and it doesn't get much simpler than the Roman favourite, Cacio e Pepe - Cheese and Pepper pasta. Pepper's my favourite spice anyway, and this was my idea of heaven on plate - spaghetti cooked perfectly al dente and lightly dressed with a buttery mix of freshly ground black pepper and finely grated pecorino cheese. You'll find it on menus all over town, we had ours in a restaurant close to our hotel on Via Carlo Alberto, across the road and down a bit from the much more famous Agata e Romero that we'd intended to go to except that we found it closed. (Agata e Romero reputedly has some of the best food in Rome, but it closes on Saturday and Sunday)
You can't visit Rome and not eat Saltimbocca at least once. I had mine in a tiny trattoria somewhere near the back of Chiesa Santa Prassede - all red checked tablecloths and Roman families out for a Friday night meal. Cheap, cheerful, and very good.
Meltingly tender Spring lamb served with roasted rosemary potatoes and buttery spinach - another Roman favourite - that was the night near the Spanish Steps.
Of course we had to try the fried artichokes at Da Giggetto (Via Portico d'Ottovia 21) and I can't resist stuffed zucchini flowers (done here with mozzarella and anchovy). Both were excellent (this was not a day for dieting!) My secondi piatti - a tender braised beef dish with a wonderful fresh tomato sauce and more of those delicious rosemary potatoes was pretty good too.
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