Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RST Top 40. #36: Il Goccetto

#36 is really an authentic wine bar... and we've picked Il Goccetto as a stand in for the few wine bars we think rate as having some sense of authenticity. Because we've blogged about Il Goccetto before (early in October plus it's in Rome the Second Time), what follows is a repeat of the earlier blog (and a few suggestions for other wine bars at the end). And we'll give the address this time (in case you're chalking up your Top 40 list): via dei Banchi Vecchi, 14; open lunch time and after 7:30 p.m. - not on Sundays (or lunch Mondays) - not far from Campo de' Fiori.

There are wine bars and there are wine bars. As noted in Rome the Second Time, we've been entranced by Il Goccetto ("the little drop") since we first discovered it for ourselves,--no mean feat, since it had no sign (it now has a tiny one above the door), no outdoor space (unless you count the steps and sidewalk), and a small, dark interior not easily visible from the street. (And, we're sorry our friends who call it "smokey bar" haven't been back since the Rome smoking ban.)

But it turns out we aren't the only ones in thrall to this unassuming wine bar not far from the overrun Campo de' Fiori. Princeton professor Leonard Barkin spent a year in the late 1980s in Rome, virtually alone at first, then gradually adding groups of friends, almost all centered around the appreciation of fine wine. And, he turns out to be the most expert of them all (at least according to his retelling of that year in his book: Satyr Square: A Year, a Life in Rome [2006]). Yet he also ends his year at, of all places, the unassuming Il Goccetto.

We couldn't be more different from Barkin. The last thing we are is oenophiles (wine experts - I had to look it up to spell it), and, we're never alone looking for friends in the wine and food business. Nor do we live to cook and eat, the way Barkin seems to. Through most of his book, I couldn't imagine Barkin and us sharing anything in Rome (except maybe his fling with Charles Bukowski's books and his taking different walking routes from Piazza dei Satiri to the Vatican library--those I liked).

But at the very end of Satyr Square, he seems to set his high-falutin' oenophile friends aside and discovers Rome, and himself, at Il Goccetto. Here is his description:

  • None of my now vast circle of wine acquaintances in Rome has ever mentioned Il Goccetto. I came upon it by mere chance....These are not the posh surroundings of Jeffrey's tastings or the slightly faded grandeur that surrounds Sandro's, but something a little more raffish, in a neighborhood where captains of industry and leatherworkers are shoulder to shoulder. In place of Clara, in place of Jeffrey, in place of Sandro, there is Sergetto--gentle, frisky, direct, occasionally fantastical. No formal tastings here, no professorial master of the revels who has come from across the sea to instruct us, just an ongoing seminar about Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, pecorino and mozzarella, as well as the dreadful inhumanity of those who support the Lazio soccer team against Roma.

You had me, Leonard, at (or finally at) "Il Goccetto." Dianne
Other wine bars of note: Al vino al vino (via dei Serpenti, 19 - up from the Coliseum), Taberna Recina (via Elvia Recina, 26 - a few blocks from San Giovanni in Laterano), and Trimani Il Wine Bar (via Cernaia, 37b - not too far from Termini), and uve e forme (via Padova, 6/8 - in the Piazza Bologna area).

1 comment:

Larry Davis said...


Do you know if there are any wine bars that could give a wine tasting for an hour or so in English?