ROME'S BEST RESTAURANTS ACCORDING TO ME
Last May I took my lovely little mum to Rome for her birthday. She’s a devout Catholic and I’m a devout PIG so I thought: where better to go with the old dear for three days?..Exactly.
First up, let’s sort out your snacks in the city. The renowned Roscioli gaff is split up into a deli, a restaurant and a wine bar, all within the same spot in the centre of the city. It all started with the bakery on Via dei Chiavari and this is where you’ll find lots of baked goods (obvs), pizzas by the slice and the city’s traditional deep-fried supplì – they’re basically fried rice balls with ragu and mozzarella. You have to to try these when visiting Rome.
The main certi pizza place in Rome is Pizzarium.
Although pizza originally began in Naples, you’ll find every region in Italy has its own interpretation and the Romans like it thinner and lighter. Run by Gabriele Bonci, Pizzarium plays with flavour combinations, from classic tomato sauce with mozzarella, to creative flavours like fresh fish, edamame beans and cherry tomatoes. They also do different types of supplì too.
Be warned: the ordering system isn’t clear at first, but you have to take a little paper ticket with a number on it and wait your turn, order, pay according to weight, then CHOW DOWN.
Last of the snacks was my absolute fave: Trapizzino. If you’re unfamiliar with this heavenly piece of perfection, then lemme school you real quick: Trapizzino is Roman street food invented ten years ago by professional pizza maker Stefano Callegari. The white pizza base is made into a triangular shape, giving it that unique look, while the texture is soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Then, they’re stuffed with your choice of fillings, such as Roman-style pork belly, parmigiana di melanzane, octopus and so much more.
This Italian sensation has even made its way to Tokyo and New York and with more locations abroad opening soon.
On this very wet and miserable day, we went to the original spot in Testaccio. We ordered one supplì (I legit wanna crawl into one of these…just leave me be), one polpetta al sugo (basically meatballs in a tomato sauce) and one pollo alla cacciatora (chicken with herbs). By far the best thing was the chicken and it reminded me of this Arabic dish my mum makes called Gus – basically chicken shawarma.
La Tavernaccia da Bruno was first on the hit list and this was one place that kept coming up when looking into Rome's best restaurants.
Unfortunately, my mum wasn’t feeling too well so we didn’t go in (selfish) but what we had was BELLISIMO, as the Italians say.
During my neeky research, I’d read that the lasagne was the thing to get here and seeing as I’m a sucker for a classic lasagne, we ordered one lasagne and I had to get the sliced veal shank too. The veal was perfectly cooked with rosemary potatoes on the side and I couldn’t recommend it more.
There was a choice of fresh desserts on offer and, as we both loooove a citrus treat, we got the lemon tart. Very good, guys.
One thing to point out is the lasagne is a Sunday speciality. Also, our table was booked for 9.30pm and I literally got the last piece of lasagne. We were so lucky as other diners were left disappointed, so make sure you book an earlier table if you wanna try it and trust meee…it’s not to be missed.
We hit up L’Arcangelo on our second evening and it really was a great experience. The staff are well informed when it comes to the wine list and daily menu. When we sat down we noticed all the tables had toy cars on them and our waitress told us that the chef created the menu around dishes that remind him of his childhood – it was a nice little touch.
Before our starters came out, we were pleasantly treated to a veggie soup and it was topped with fried parmesan – PIFF.
Now, Rome is known for its carbonara and this dish is traditionally made with egg, hard cheese, guanciale (Italian cured meat cut from pork jowl or cheeks) and black pepper. A known master of Roman carbonara is chef Arcangelo Dandini, so really, how could we not try a carbonara while in his restaurant? I never order one at home but WHEN IN BLOODY ROME, AMIRIGHT?
Gotta tell ya, this particular carbonara was easily the best I’ve ever eaten; the pasta itself was perfectly al dente, the sauce was on the right side of richness and the guanciale beautifully crispy and salty. But the Roman chef chooses to leave black pepper out of his carbonara, relying solely on the guancialle to give the dish a smoky flavour. He uses matured pecorino from Rome and an egg yolk per person, saying: “I was the first in Rome to stop using egg whites.” Godddd I want it NOW!
We also ordered the gnocchi amatricana style, which is made with tomato, guanciale and pecorino, and this was so good! But the carbonara easily stole the show here.
For our mains we chose one fish and one lamb. The lamb chops came on a bed of cabbage, all good, but we both agreed that the fish with lemon and vegetables was the better dish.
On our last evening, we booked a table at the very popular Colline Emiliane and we were buzzin when we realised it was a two-minute walk from our hotel…bloody fantastic. There was a queue out the door and we (I) felt smug walking past everyone to announce we had a table booked. Again, make sure you book this one as it’s a two-hour wait or a straight up NOT HAPPENING ting.
We went for the classic ricotta and spinach tortellini (I literally didn’t want it to end) and a mushroom tagliatelle, also very much BELLISIMO.
We chose one veal and one beef for mains. I was expecting a slab of meat but it came thinly sliced and beautifully presented. Both really good choices, but veal is a percy ting always.
This is the winner for the top selecky dessert of the whole trip: lemon meringue pie. Everything about it was STUNNING. Crispy meringue on top, zingy lemon filling and a light base. JHEEZE. I will always love you.
Last up is Armando al Pantheon.
I’ve said it once, but I’ll say it again…you HAVE to book this place. It gets booked weeks in advance sometimes and there’s no waiting system, so don’t mug yourself, yeah?
This was our last meal before our flight home and it really was unreal. We ordered three starters between us and when it came out, they’d split each piece in half and served them on individual plates for us. EXTREMELY PRESUMPTUOUS but actually nailed the ting tbf.
We got fresh mozzarella, artichoke (another classic Roman dish) and parmigiana reggiano – all three were so fresh and tasty.
I couldn’t resist one more carbonara and this one came with spaghetti, again so so banging, and we also shared a gorgonzola gnocchi.
We hadn’t seen tiramisu on the menu until then so guess what…we only went and ate the hell out of one and it was mmmmm just God damn perfect.