Pane & Vino – Via Ostilia, 8 – no website available.
And then there are the days when all you want for lunch is a panino! So off to Pane and Vino to sample what are supposedly the best panini in Prati (the area near the Vatican). The place is tiny! But the panini are to die for! You choose from boards up on the wall, place your order and wait for your panino to be made. We decided to share and ordered two different ones. They use fabulous roll/bread that has sort of a focaccia like texture. We decided on a panino with grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini and salsa verde and one with scamorza cheese, prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) and lovely, soft sun-dried tomatoes cured in oil. The local wine we ordered went down a treat! We voted and it was hard but the eggplant zucchini panino came up the ultimate winner.
Ditirambo – Piazza della Cancelleria, 74-75 – click here for the link.
This trattoria, a few blocks from the Campo dei Fiori, gets an enthusiastic two thumbs up from these two well-seasoned eaters! Normally we don’t tend to go back to the same place more than once on a trip but in this case we had to make an exception! Our first visit was for lunch and what a lunch it was! The service we received was absolutely outstanding! The warm cozy vibe of this place made us want to stay all afternoon and into the evening just sipping away! We ordered the antipasto alla casa that was a selection of 2 types of bruschetta: chopped veggies and the inside of the burrata (the creamiest part) with chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Neither of us care much for burrata but this bruschetta changed our minds! There was also a very good Serrano ham, nicely seasoned Sicilian salami as well as a bruschetta with Sicilian broccoli and smoked cheese. We were impressed and loving every bite! Then there was that little pot of fresh ricotta and mint, not much to write home about until you combined it with that Serrano ham…wow did that work! Joe ordered a pasta (why the hell not…this is Rome after all) and describing it almost brings tears to my eyes. Everyone has heard of spaghetti vongole right? Well not this version!!! WOW!! It was spaghetti with a smoked tomato, saffron, garlicky sauce tossed with clams …oh my!!! After that my excellent spelt pappardelle with rabbit ragu, full of tender, delicate tasting morsels of rabbit, seemed to come in 2nd place! Joe makes a habit of keeping to fishy/seafood/tripe or other offal when in Rome! We shared chocolate budino for dessert because of the wine pairing (they pair all the desserts this way) of a Barolo Chinato. Now people, if you have not had the pleasure of this so-called Amaro, you need to! I was introduced to it a few months ago by a friend… so as soon as I spotted it on the dessert menu, well…enough said! After finishing both the budino and the wine our hostess asked if we liked it (the wine that is)and we were all over ourselves praising it, she went away and returned with a couple of samples of similar wine made using Barbera grapes…did I mention we could have stayed all afternoon? The night before going home we made a break with tradition and instead of the local pizzeria, decided to make a reservation at Ditirambo…we could not have made a better choice! On the way to our table, the wait person we had before recognized us and from then on it was simply one of the best times we have had eating in Rome! The couple at the next table was from Chicago and so as these things sometimes do…we basically spent our evening together chatting…rather nice! A bottle of Vino Nobile was ordered and then on to the main event! More pasta…absolutely! For Joe rigatoni alla Norma (an eggplant, tomato sauce) and for me tonnarelli, my favourite long pasta, with an artichoke and guanciale sauce, (hey this is Rome and you gotta do your bit for the artichoke growers). A shared second course of melt in the mouth plate of beef cheeks…ending with a radicchio salad. There’s no dessert tonight! But our trusty server generously laid on us both the Barolo Chinato and the Barbera version because Joe had told the last time, he preferred it! A wonderful way to wrap up 3 weeks in Roma I think!
La Zanzarra Bistrot – Via Crescenzio, 84 – click here for the link.
This place was on my to do list from 2014 and we never quite got there. It’s on the same side of the Tiber as we can walk there. It’s a good looking space inside but both of us are still trying to figure this place out and figure you can’t strike it lucky all them time. Maybe they should be in Paris??? I will say that perhaps as a place for cichetti (snacks) and drinks after work it might work but we just did not get it. The staff, dressed in their long aprons, alla Parisienne did not seem very friendly and for us that’s the best part of going to restaurants. Anyway, we were there for lunch and well…nothing much appealed and the prices were not inexpensive. That said we ordered 1 beer and 1 glass of wine and their version of a club house sandwich. One with salmon and one with beef (??) what?? The chicken option seemed to be “sold out”…so what I can say is I liked that the bread was nice and thin, the beef uber-thin and included slices of hard-boiled egg. The sandwich was nicely presented but was the messiest “club sandwich” in my 60 odd years of eating them! I actually gave up and left some behind because I got so frustrated with the mess….very disappointed to say the least!