Posts Tagged With: restaurants

“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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“Ba Ghetto”

Located on Portico d’Ottavia, Ba Ghetto is a kosher restaurant with great food. I ordered the Bucatini Amatriciana for starters and the special,  grilled salmon with pine nuts. So good. The salmon was a nice hefty piece of filet that was fresh and moist. I was most impressed by this, because paying more for seafood at a new restaurant can be risky. After all, you’re at the mercy of the chef. What if they bring you a smaller portion low not-so great fish? Not to worry here. The seafood that night was plentiful. Another member of my group ordered clams and had a similar sized portion.

My pasta was also a nice surprise. Bucatini is a heavier version of spaghetti, so I was a little hesitant to order it. Back home I make thin spaghetti or angel hair but I wanted to try the amatriciana so I gave it a shot. I haven’t made angel hair since. The bucatini was cooked to an insane level of al dente perfection like a new standard for what pasta can be. The amatriciana sauce is a spicy tomato based sauce here served con carne, or with meat. Pasta is often served with   small slices of cured pork similar to a thick slice of proscuitto. This meat was neither fatty or chewy (as it can sometimes be). The sauce is traditionally spiced with crushed red chili and paprika and the version at Ba Ghetto was a nice combination of both.

The service here was nice and not pushy and if you’re looking for a decently priced restaurant with great quality food Ba Ghetto gets the recommend.

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La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

Right next to the Imperial Forums! So glad we stopped in here. I’d read one blog describe the restaurant as a “Working class neighborhood” restaurant and that is precisely what it is. It’s warm and welcoming just one street over from the clamor and clangor of the tourist hot spots on Via Cavour.

I’d recommend stopping in here for lunch in between a Coliseum and Roman Forum visit. It’s run by an extended family, and the waitress speaks English quite well. The carbonara and putanesca came out piping hot, and the saltimbocca gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “mouth-watering.” The house wine was good and fairly priced but the main things that sold me were the atmosphere and the location. Here you can dine with locals instead of…well, your neighbors.

To find it with walking directions, go down the Via dei Fori Imperiali, heading toward the Coliseum. Stop at the intersection of Via Cavour, where there is a small park of trees and benches on your left. (History buffs, this is right at the Forum of Nerva) Go down the small flight of stairs, past the water fountain, and it’s right up that street, one over from Cavour.

Trust me, one street over makes all the difference.

For the link to the restaurants home page, click the link here. They have a menu, address and pictures!

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Il Fornaio – a bakery

Il Fornaio - a wonderful bakery

Il Fornaio – a wonderful bakery

Situated just off the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Il Fornaio is a bakery specializing in more kinds of breads and pastries than you could possibly sample. It’s just down the street from Campo di Fiori and if you’re travelling down the CVE on your way to or from the Vatican it’s a convienient place to pick up something sweet. We stopped here to grab some cookies before heading to St. Peters on Christmas Eve. During the summer, it’s also a quick place to get a cold soda and can be a lifesaver at the end of a sweltering day.

There are typically two ladies working there. One at the cash register and the other behind the counter. I know more Latin than Italian, so if they were rude (as one reviewer claims) I am always blissfully unaware. What I am aware of is the bag of goodies in my hand as I head out to my next fantastic destination. Romans are fond of extracts when cooking and traditionally use less sugar than we’re used to so keep that in mind.

Prices are according to weight, so order as much or as little as you like. When in Rome… 

Here’s the link to more information, thanks to TripAdvisor.

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Forno da Milvio

Forno da Milvio at night. A great pizzeria just off of Via Cavour.

Forno da Milvio at night. A great pizzeria just off of Via Cavour.

Forno da Milvio is a family run, neighborhood pizzeria in the Monti district, close enough to the Roman Forum that it makes a delicious and convenient place to have lunch or dinner. I’ve stopped by a few times on both my trips to Rome and have not been disappointed once.

The pizza is delicious and inventive and baked in the oven right at the counter. The staff is super friendly and there are always locals zipping in and out, sometimes taking it to go, or relocating to the back of the restaurant with a beer, where they have plenty of table seats to get out of the sun and rest your feet. The pizzas are the long thin type, and are ordered by how large you want your portion to be. This works out great because sign language is a breeze.

Inside of Forno da Milvio. It's bright and airy with plenty of seating.

Inside of Forno da Milvio. It’s bright and airy with plenty of seating.

Forno da Milvio appears to be run by a grey haired gentleman preparing the pizza, pastas, breads, a few meat dishes and a terrific salad, while his wife sits and the entrance and mans the cash register with warm smiles. I’ve been by a few times on my own for a late night slice and it always feels like dropping by your grandparents house. On that note, this is definitely a kid friendly atmosphere. It’s air conditioned and has a bath room for customers.

Four euros and change get you a good portion of pizza and a can of soda. It’s a quick, local stop over as you move from the Coliseum and Forum, or before I go into the Capitoline Museum. The pizza is just as good if not better that the restaurants that line the lower half of Via Cavour and I get a little satisfaction out of visiting a Mom and Pop place. There’s a small selection of beer available as well. It’s casual and fun, and the Suppli were the best I had in Rome. They even provide a really great salad with vibrant romaine lettuce, that can be a godsend in between all the pasta. Forno da Milvio get the recommend!

Located on Via dei Serpenti, just off of Via Cavour.

On Fridays they serve my favorite kind. Tuna, artichokes, grape tomatoes, oregano and just a little cheese. So good.

On Fridays they serve my favorite kind. Tuna, artichokes, grape tomatoes, oregano and just a little cheese. So good.

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My Parents outside of Pastificio

Travelers on a budget rejoice!

I’d heard about Pastificio from a number of blogs and guides and wanted to track it down and see for myself. I managed to squeeze it in out of pure luck when my family and I were headed from Piazza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps. We’d already been to the Borghese that morning and were looking for a place to eat. The Spanish Steps area isn’t such a great place for that. But I saw storefront from the corner of my eye and didn’t hesitate.


Tried and failed to take a picture without being noticed. Anyway, you can see the interior is really simple. Pay at the counter and have a seat.

Pastificio is a one of a kind place. It masquerades as a pasta shop for most of the day except for a small window beginning at 1 o’clock and ends when they run out of food. For four euros you can get a hefty serving pasta, you have a choice between two, and for an additional euro you can get a cup of house wine. No white table cloths here, as paper and plastic is the norm. We managed to slip in the door at two o’clock and find seats. My parents were a bit put off by the informal dining but as a college kid, when someone hands me a plate of gnocchi that smells like heaven and weighs as much as my purse I don’t hesitate.

The gnocchi was incredible. Piping hot, it was one of the best meals I’ve had in Rome. Light and airy, with a sprinkling of parmigiana cheese, I couldn’t even finish my entire serving. It came with a single meatball that was so good I can’t even complain that I only had one. If I had twenty four hours in Rome I’d stop by again.

If the food hasn’t sold you yet (Seriously, so good) the location should. It’s a stones throw from the Spanish Steps and the best shopping in Rome. If you’re on a budget, then Via dei Condotti is really just for the atmosphere and window shopping. Which makes Pastificio even better. The area is pricey and the restaurants reflect that. If you’re there to shop till you drop, be time efficient and stop in any way.

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“Gallo Matto”


Table setting in Gallo Matto

A special note of appreciation to “Gallo Matto” or the “Chicken House” as their business card says. We ate Christmas dinner here and the memory has been inexorably added into our family annals. As I’ve said before, I’m not a foodie, nor am I involved in any shady reimbursement deal where they send me their carbonara recipe in return for my praise. Although…

Seriously now, the Chicken House was a gem. They squeezed out another table for us amongst the groups and families already dining. The restaurant includes a wood oven that the chicken is prepared over and gave the place a wonderful smell. The food was typical Romana cucina and fairly priced. The homey atmosphere takes over and before you know it you’re settling into your chair like a regular who lives just a block away.

But the star of the show was the gentleman playing piano. He kept up a steady stream of Christmas songs, blues, jazz, tunes that kept everyone in the restaurant smiling in recognition. Once the language barrier was crossed, he played “As Time Goes By” for my mother, a story she’ll be telling every Christmas from now on. He gave Louis Armstrong a run for his money with his rendition of “What a Wonderful World” that put a cherry on top of a memorable Christmas Day.

The interior is made up of quirky decorations and it is a good sized restaurant, something that may be more important during the crowded summer months. Our waiter was attentive but not pushy, and it being Christmas I felt like the entire staff was enjoying it as well. All in all, Gallo Matto took us in with welcome when a place just down the street asked us to come back at nine. It’s located in the Monti neighborhood, at the high end of Cavour near Santa Maria Maggiore.

For the address and further reviews follow the link to TripAdvisor  here.

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