Posts Tagged With: pasta

“Taverna del Ghetto”

Unfortunately I have to write my first “dislike” about a restaurant. The food was good not great, and the service was fine but again it was missing something. I’d done some research before my visit and had stumbled upon Taverna del Ghetto’s very expansive website. This probably should’ve been my first warning. Restaurants in Rome generally don’t have websites, or if they do, they’re very simple with a wonderfully inaccurate English translation. Do a little browsing and you’ll see what I mean.

We were also hailed by a gentleman at the door, not a good sign. Sometimes restaurants place a waiter on the sidewalk to give a sales pitch to passersby. It can be a little intimidating, especially on a touristy avenue, to be onset by all these people wanting you to eat at their establishment. Unless you want to eat at their restaurant, don’t buckle when they promise you “Pizza! Pasta!” Taverna del Ghetto was respectful about it but the more you travel through the city the more you’ll begin to recognize small signs like that, and perhaps look elsewhere.

Our only excuse for buckling at Taverna del Ghetto is we were hungry and a bit jet lagged. I feel a bit guilty for bashing the restaurant, because there really was nothing wrong with it. The existence of a website and available menu is a comfort for some travelers, and it’s location on Via del Portico D’Ottavia means that it’s close to the Capitoline Hill and Piazza Venezia, but just enough of a walk to be away from the crowds. But as far as the food is concerned, I’d go across the street to “Ba Ghetto.”

Here’s the link to the restaurant’s webpage.

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Pasta 101

Knowing your pasta can really help make sense out of your menu. Most menu items will say something along the lines of “This kind of pasta, served in this kind of manner” and recognizing that goes a long way.

Here’s a great link to a guide to pasta!

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Composed of pasta or soup, you can make a meal out of the primi selection. The big favorites for the pastas are

Pasta a cacio e pepe – pasta with cheese and pepper

Pasta all’amatriciana – a spicy tomato based sauce

Pasta alla carbonara – cheeses blend with egg and bacon

Pasta all’arrabbiata – a tomato based sauce made with chili peppers

Pasta alla puttanesca – the prostitutes pasta, made with what’s on hand: tomatoes, olives, chili pepper, and anchovies

Fetticine al salmone is also popular. Risotto is not as common but it’s most commonly served with funghi – mushrooms. Pappardelle is a wide, ribbon like pasta that is served with a variety of sauces.

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Translating your Menu

Okay, so we’ve finally landed on where we’re going to eat our next meal. On to the next problem, what the heck your menu says. Going on the assumption that anyone who’s not Roman will never look like a Roman, if we haven’t been given an English menu by our waiter, or we’re eating at a more casual place, we’re going to be on our own for decoding exactly what we’re about to order.

Our training starts here. After all, we want to give the illusion that we’re Tourists 2.0, the knowledgeable ones, thank goodness. So, first things first, a typical menu will be broken down into these categories: Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, Dolci, Bevande or something of that nature.

Next, know your pastas. If pasta identification was an Olympic sport Italians would gold medal and we wouldn’t even make the podium. Yes, we know the difference between lasagna and raviolis, spaghetti and fettucine, rigatoni and ditali, and that’s a good start, but having a better understanding of the pasta raises your chances of ordering something in the region of what you actually wanted.

After breezing through that obstacle, identify what kind of meat you’re dealing with. I’ve tried to track down pictures of typical roman dishes made from pollo, manzo/carne/bistecca, prosciutto, agnello, salsiccia, maiale, coniglio, and just because it’s fun tacchino.

Hopefully now you’re confidently scanning your menu for what you’d really like to try, not just clinging to a choice because you know what it is. Keep and open mind. At best you get the best meal of your life and walk away feeling like a genius. At worst you post a picture of your plate to Facebook and ask your friends “Anyone know what this is?” This page will be under construction for a while and as I become better acquainted with this subject, I’ll pass my knowledge onto you.

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