Rome Travel Guide

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

RST's Favorite 2015 Rome Restaurants - i.e., Trattorie

The bustling front dining room at Betto e Mary; not sure about the stuffed animal cow and her scarf.  Perhaps someone
will come forth with an explanation.  And the server?  She's the talking menu.
With the usual caveat that we are not foodies, we are taking a break from all that architecture to provide notes on places in Rome where we enjoyed eating this past year.  RST likes to graze, we must admit.  We like small plates; we don't like to be fussed over.  So if you are into high-tone culinary experiences, you probably should not read on (as you also can deduce from the photo above).  But if you like a casual meal, with no or few tourists around, and excellent classic Roman dishes, check out the 3 trattorie below - in a variety of neighborhoods: Monteverde Vecchio, Flaminio, and Tor Pignattara.  We'll take on 4 even more casual places in a subsequent post.

In a covered outside dining area at Betto e Mary - where you
are likely to sit without a reservation (and it's very pleasant).
We've previously mentioned Betto e Mary in the Tor Pignattara neighborhood.  We've enjoyed it partly because it's close to one of our favorite galleries, Wunderkammern.  And the area is known for high-quality wall art. The walk from Wunderkammern to the restaurant will give you a great sampling of that art (check out the StreetArtRoma app - the app is much better than the Web site - for excellent directions).

For those in search of a non-tourist experience, you can't do better than Betto e Mary.  I can't recall how we came to know about it, because you won't find it easily.  It does have many (high) ratings on Yelp and TripAdvisor (the latter spells the name incorrectly) which I checked after we'd been there a couple times.  And I only found out from reading an article in Men's Journal that it's considered a "communist" restaurant (that means apparently only that it's for locals, not businessmen).
Our 26 Euro bill at Betto e Mary was so low,
 we took a photo of it.  And when we paid it,
someone rang a bell and shouted
 "Mancia! mancia!" (tip! tip!)

You probably need a bit of Italian to get by, or be willing to take your chances on, e.g., horsemeat, innards.  The available dishes are described to you by your server; that's it. You can take a look at the (Italian) Facebook page for photos of some of the offerings.  To get to the restaurant, take the #1 tram from the side of Termini or from Porta Maggiore to either the Filarete or Tor Pignattara stop and follow a map or gps from there - it's only a couple blocks.  DON'T follow the Men's Journal advice to take the Metro to Villa Medici and ask! And, although not far from Pigneto, Betto e Mary is not really in Pigneto.  Address: Via dei Savorgnan, 99, 00176 Rome; tel. 0664771096.  I also don't think the open and closing hours are accurate in Men's Journal.
Early in the evening at Lo Sgobbone, before it filled up.

The outside tables are popular at Lo Sgobbone.
Second up, Lo Sgobbone, in our Flaminio neighborhood last year. As I said in my review on TripAdviser, I had to be talked into going in the first place, because the outside awning was so dirty, I didn't trust it. But Bill prevailed, and he was right. Terrific (clean inside) local trattoria, and few tourists. This restaurant isn't too far from MAXXI or from Foro Italico, if you are doing either of those sites. Lo Sgobbone features the usual Italian dishes - we had an excellent spaghetti (billed as tagliolini but it was spaghetti) with fresh artichokes...gotta keep eating them as long as they are in season, and a very good roast veal - large portions. I also ordered the fresh asparagus "a piacere" - prepared as I wished, and I wished with butter and parmesan.  A delicious large plateful was $10 and worth it.  The house white is from Pitigliano in SE Tuscany - an area we love - and perfectly serviceable.  You are given a 1 liter bottle and you pay for "a consumiano" - what you consume.

The awning, Dianne's objection, looks better at night.
We were too full to try the desserts, but they looked terrific, and the Italians around us were not holding back.  For us, this is so much better than Anthony Bourdain's Cacio e Pepe in Prati, or Katie Parla's favorite Cesare al Casaletto (sorry, Katie, usually we think you are spot on and we recommend you every time, but we can't agree on this one).  Bill is loathe to check any other reviews before we go to a restaurant, and he's often proven right - they lead one astray.  I checked Lo Sgobbone only after we went, assuming no one had discovered it, and it shows up with excellent ratings on both Yelp and TripAdviser.  Lo Sgobbone, btw, appears to mean a hard worker, but with a negative connotation (leave it to the Italians!). Via dei Podesti, 10 (between the Lungotevere Flaminio and viale Pinturicchio; near Ponte della Musica), tel: 06 3232994.  And nice photos on the Italian Facebook page.

Third, Tutto Qua!, in the Monteverde Vecchio neighborhood.  This is tinier than the two trattorie above, and more upscale in cuisine and price, but still reasonable.  It's not your classic Italian trattoria, in other words, but it usually has several classics on the menu.  I love the atmosphere, the creative menu, and the presentation.  The wine list is also good, especially for such a small spot.  You can see more photos on Tutto Qua!'s (Italian) Web site and  Facebook.  It's much praised on TripAdvisor (Yelp hasn't discovered it yet).  One drawback: you usually need a reservation.  Our phone number was taken down incorrectly and when the owner couldn't reach us the day before, he cancelled our reservation. So be careful when you reserve a table.  A few outside tables in season, as well (also subject to reservations).  Via Barrilli 66 (via Barrilli turns into via Carini), not far from Il Vascello Theater. tel: 06 580 3649.
Outside, looking in, at Tutto Qua! in Monteverde Vecchio.
We didn't include RST's favorite restaurant in Rome, Mithos, La taverna dell'allegria, because we've written about it many times.  Check out the Facebook site  to see if you can stay away.

And now it's time for some Buffalo wings (when in Buffalo we live 3 blocks from where they were first concocted - Frank and Teresa's Anchor Bar).


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