Saturday, May 05, 2012

Trattorie of Trastavere

Osteria del Rugantino RomeIt can actually be fun to get lost in Trastavere!  This Roman neighborhood beyond the Tiber retains its character since the medieval times.  Narrow, winding cobblestoned streets lined with old houses, several tiny pubs and interesting restaurants, Trastavere was easily my favorite haunt in Rome, especially during lunch-time.

The first time we visited here was on the recommendation of our landlord (or rather lady). Trattoria sora Cencia turned out to a busy place that served a variety of fresh pasta and meats.  We were hungry and went with the fixed three course meal.  They started us us on bruschetta before our pasta entrees.  I had chosen the Rigatoni pasta with tomato sauce and wild boar - and it was out of the world!  I followed with a escalope of veal in marsala wine and roasted sweet potatoes.

Rigatoni pasta with wild boar

After this, we would return to Trastavere every day and try a different street and a different restaurant.  During the entire week, I don’t think we had a single bad day during lunch!  The bottle wrapped in a basket of straw (picture below) is how Chianti from the North is traditionally packaged.

Trattoria at Trastavere Rome

A place we loved was Osteria del Rugantino, with its tavern-like interiors decorated with legs of ham, bottles of Chianti and horse-shoes.  The Gnocchetti with pecorino cheese, pepper, olives and parsley was divine.


My wife had ordered the Pennette Puttanesca, penne pasta made with capers, black olives, chili pepper and tomato sauce.  I could see she loved it.

Pennette Puttanesca at Osteria del Rugantino

The second course, Abbacchio Scottadito, a traditional cut Roman grilled lamb was excellent too!

Abbacchio Scottadito in Rome

We ended with desserts of panna cotta and creme caramel. Creme caramel is commonly available in India as caramel custard, but not everyone can turn out one which looks great and tastes even better.  The ones in Rome were uniformly excellent and our most popular dessert choice here.

Panna Cotta in Trastavere

Creme Caramel at Trastavere

Another good discovery was Ristorante Carlo Menta. Like most others, this restaurant has al fresco dining as well as a good number of tables indoors.  The menu is quite diverse with pastas, gnocchi and other Roman delights.  We stayed with our routine and went with the chef’s fixed offering.  Another great lunch - four courses this time:

Ristorante Carlo Menta Rome

Bruschetta of garlic bread, tomato and rocket salad; Sphagetti alla Carbonara made with eggs and bacon; Saltimbocca alla Romana, escalope of veal wrapped in parma ham and cooked in salvia sauce; creme caramel for desserts.  Everything was great!


Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Saltimboca alla Romano

Finally, Piatta del Giorno, a cosy little place with al fresco dining as well as a space inside that had been designed to look like an old Roman street-side.  It was funny seeing the details such as the clothesline with women’s intimate wear hanging above.

Piatta del Giorno in Trastavere Rome

Trastavere Rome

The gnocchi in tomato sauce and the Rigatoni pasta made with porcini mushrooms, sausage, cream and cheese were outstanding.  My daughter decided to order a pizza which she polished off all by herself!


Rigatoni with porcini and sausage

Pizza in Rome

Trastavere Rome

The walk to and from Trastavere was interesting too.  Initially, we would stroll across the Tiber island which has been associated with healing from medieval times.  The two small bridges that connect the island to either banks of the Tiber are populated with artists and their easels as well as vendors selling fake Gucci and Versace bags.  On other days, we would cross the Tiber on Ponte Garibaldi.

Next in this series:  Piazza Hopping in Rome
Previously in this series: Roman Holiday

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