It is absurd to discuss something as elusive as the “best” trattoria in Rome. Judging food is by nature a subjective endeavor and many locals can’t help but be blinded by an intangible food-enhancing nostalgia. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Rome. We all romanticize food memories and forgive the foibles of our beloved establishments. Of course, trattorias don’t exist to serve flawless meals. Their role is to serve dependable comfort food at moderate prices. They get by on the charm or idiosyncrasies of their owners and on their convivial atmosphere. Regulars willingly overlook the habitually overcooked lamb or the watery cacio e pepe if the owner knows their name.
So does the perfect trattoria exist? Sadly, it does not. Even the “best” places like Cesare al Casaletto and Armando al Pantheon have their strengths and weaknesses. What I present to you is a list of my favorite places, those which serve great food, eschew laurel resting, and which I have judged without the hindrance of nostalgic delusion.
Armando Al Pantheon: The Gargioli family has been serving solid Roman classics since 1961. More here.
Cesare al Casaletto: This neo-trattoria in the Portuense district excels at starters and primi and has a killer wine list.
Settimio Al Pellegrino: Teresa cooks up basic Roman dishes while husband Mario schmoozes and serves good food with bad wine.
Trattoria al Moro: Ok, so this place is more like a ristorante with formal service and crisp linens–not to mention prices 30% higher than the average trattoria–but it was a simple trattoria when it was founded. Today, it serves a vast list of Roman classics, including many dishes that have vanished from most of the city’s menus.
Trattoria Monti: Located in the Esquiline district (not Monti as the name suggests), this family-run trattoria serves hearty and meaty dishes from Le Marche. I always start with a sformantino and never miss out on one of the stellar pastas like the beloved tortello filled with a runny egg.
Trattoria Dal Cavalier Gino: You won’t find a table on short notice at this institution near the Parliament that has been serving simple food to a loyal clientele since 1963.
Epilogue: Can everyone please stop saying nice things about Sora Margherita and Enoteca Corsi? The food is gross and hasn’t been edible in years. Basta! Also, the food at Da Oio A Casa Mia is an abomination.
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