It’s not easy to find good places to eat and drink in a touristy city like Rome. As mentioned in my recent post “How was Rome?” we had a hard time getting away from the endless tourist traps lining the streets and plazas of the historic city center. But it wasn’t all bad and I did promise to share a few goodies that we uncovered during our exploration. These three spots below saved our gastronomic experience with fabulous food, craft beer, fine wines, and friendly service.
Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina
We were very excited for our meal at Pianostrada. Everything we had read suggested that it would be fabulous. In this case, searching the internet and reading other food blogs in advance really paid off, because a reservation was necessary to get in. Pianostrada began in 2014 as the dream of four women—friends Chiara Magliochetti and Paola Colucci and Paola’s daughters Alice and Flaminia. In November 2016 they moved from a teeny spot in Trastevere to a large beautiful space in the Regola neighborhood near the river.
The dining area is comfortable and elegant, and in nicer weather the courtyard out back would have also been lovely. We had reserved seats at the bar, where we could watch over the action of the open kitchen. The entertainment was riveting, like food theatre with highly skilled performers.
There were dozens of wines by the glass described on a scroll of cards arranged by color like a paint swatch color wheel. We ordered glasses of a 100% Bellone white wine from Lazio Italy to begin, and then flipped through the wheel to match dishes as our meal progressed. Fun!
We asked if we could share one dish at a time and their timing was perfect. Perhaps an extra benefit of sitting at the bar? They didn’t seem fazed when we started with the fish tartare, a nicely flavored and very fresh white fish that was listed under the Secondi side of the menu.
Next, a deconstructed squash blossom had the tempura batter fried flowers layered with slices of fresh mozzarella and salty anchovies in between. The flavors were brightened by a sprinkling of lemon zest.
Their version of the classic Roman dish Saltimbocca alla romana was just incredible. Our knives easily slid right through the thick slices of veal cooked at low temperature, still pink and tender, seasoned with Peruvian sage and wrapped in crisp ham.
The danger of sitting at the bar—everything being prepped in front of you looks too good to miss. We had been watching them plate beautiful raviolis and we just couldn’t leave without them. Thankfully, they were not horrified when we switched back to a pasta dish. The creamy ricotta cheese filling was balanced by crunchy artichokes and bacon. We watched Paola plate the ravioli and appreciated the care that she took to ensure each piece of pasta was perfect.
When the food is this good, there’s no way we are skipping dessert. I must have been living under a rock when it comes to desserts, because I had never heard of the classic Mont Blanc. From now on it will be one of my favorite things, although I’m sure most won’t hold up to the divine little mountain of thick cream surrounded by sweet chestnut puree that the ladies at Pianostrada whipped together.
This was by far our best dining experience in Rome and really one of our best anywhere!
Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina
Via delle zoccolette 22
Tuesday – Friday 1-4pm, 7-12am
I Colori del Vino Enoteca
When it comes to finding good wine bars, there are places all over Rome that call themselves “enotecas” or “wine bars”, but most don’t really specialize in wine. Thankfully, I Colori del Vino Enoteca came to our rescue with premium Italian wines by the glass. We lucked out that our hotel was located just down the street from this little bar. Otherwise, we would never have found it.
Owner and General Manager Marco Marchetti’s family owns the space and has been in the wine business since 1963. Marco is a collector of both music and wine. He spins vinyl Blues and Rock LPs on the turntable while engaging in deep discussions about his wine collection with those customers seated at the bar.
The wine list includes over 30 wines by the glass, mostly Italian and a few French. Beautiful, quality examples of Italian wines ranging from €6.50 to €13.50. Over a few days we worked our way through some of Italy’s best wine regions and grape varietals including Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and an Amarone della Valpolicella Viviani that was just delicious.
As an added bonus, the food is quite excellent with a menu of cheeses, prosciutto, salads and various crostini, like the crostino con fiore de zucca, alici e mozzarella al forno that held a bright, fresh zucchini flower stuffed with gooey mozzarella. The generous serving of carpaccio was served with crisp salad and parmesan flakes. For a heartier meal, there are also pastas and other hot dishes.
The dessert was also outstanding. The Sbriciolata di frolla of thinly sliced pears wrapped around crumbled pastry, ricotta cheese, and chestnut cream was an ideal accompaniment to one of their six dessert wines by the glass. This place is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts.
I Colori del Vino
via Aureliana 17
Monday – Friday 11-3pm, 6-11pm
Open Baladin Roma
Tired and thirsty from a day of touring Rome, we wanted a place to rest with a good beer. Did I mention that we averaged more than 20,000 steps of walking each day? Uff! Thank goodness craft beer has become very popular in Italy and there are many pubs in Rome where you can enjoy them.
Open Baladin Roma is a craft beer pub by Baladin Brewery that is open all day. The fun, colorful taproom was a welcome and cheerful sight. They had almost 40 beers on tap, all Italian except for one Belgian. The Baladin Brewery began in 1996 as a brewpub in a small village called Piozzo in the northwest Italy region of Piedmont. They now make more than 30 different types of beer distributed worldwide and have brewpubs all over the country.
Mostly burgers and wings make up the menu, but then it is a brewpub, so beer-friendly food is what you want. The house made potato chips (called Fatatas) smothered with parmesan cheese and truffle, satisfied our need for a snack while we worked our way through a few craft beers.
Most interesting, we tried one of their unique distillati: a strong grappa-like spirit made from beer that had been distilled and then aged in oak barrels. We had the Esprit De Noel, made from a Christmas beer from 2009, that was smooth with hints of chocolate.
Open Baladin Roma
Via degli Specchi, 6
Open 12 – 2 AM everyday