/The Worst of 2010, Rome Edition

The Worst of 2010, Rome Edition

How exactly am I supposed to eat these foul tacos with all that shit on top of them?

I’m still working on my “Best of 2010” list (it’s gonna be a LONG one this year) so I thought I’d get the much shorter “worst of” list out of the way first. If you are like me, a bad meal is a tragedy, a squandered moment of deliciousness that leaves you with paradoxical feelings of emptiness. I’ve jotted down a few memories of the worst meals I’ve had in the past 12 months. I hope you’ve had fewer!

Bir & Fud: Billed by a dwindling number of people as being among the best pizzerias in Rome, Bir & Fud has continued to decline in quality since the departure of consultant Gabriele Bonci, Rome’ star pizzaiolo. Many are the rumors about the divorce between Bonci and Bir, but one thing is certain, the pizza at this Trastevere joint is nothing special. After a wonky and less than delectable pizza in late 2009, I returned for a second try and, once again, found the pizza to be tremendously disappointing. On the upside, they serve great beer.

Griglieria La Vaca: It is so painful to think back on the meals I had at this Monti-based Mexican restaurant. Phrases like mayonaise vat, microwave cooking, and dog food come to mind. It would have been amazing to have a good Mexican place close to home. Instead we got this.

L’Arcangelo: I had a terrible meal back in May, which sparked a massive controversy when the Italian blogosphere finally noticed my less than complimentary post months later (well done guys!). Apparently irreverence and hyperbole don’t translate so well…Several trips back have redeemed the restaurant and now, it makes my list of favorite restaurants in Rome. Just more evidence to support the theory that in Rome, you can’t just choose what you want off of a menu, you really must know what to order.

Mexico al Aventino: Griglieria La Vaca was a low point in my gastronomic existence, but this place isn’t far behind. On a trip in July, the gazpacho was the absolute worst I have ever had (think Hunt’s ketchup cut with dish water). Tacos de pollo were a step below airplane food and the rice had the consistency of boiled toilet paper. I’m quite sure no one in the kitchen has ever eaten Mexican food before. I am seriously still depressed about this place. How they are affiliated with Slow Food is beyond me.

Obika’: The new-ish addition to Campo de’ Fiori is part of the expanding Obika’ Mozzarella Bar empire. The uninspiring quality of product at the original Piazza Firenze branch has been brought to Campo, but with staff that is painfully uninformed about Obika’s food and wine. Mozzarelle shared with clients this summer were poor ambassadors for the south-central Italian specialty. Definitely a place to check out if you love wasting money and hate food.

Open Baladin: I like this place. I really do. For the beer. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the food taste better. To be fair, sometimes it is really good. Potato chips with licorice powder I had in September were amazing. The next pair of times, not so much. The food is generally inconsistent, yet there are three constants at Open: an ample beer selection, good service (I’ve heard claims to the contrary but I’ve always been treated very well), and a vile burger that is nothing more than seared steak tartare. This flacid patty doesn’t bleed when cooked rare and is served on an untoasted bun. I call it a crime against cattle.

Pierluigi: After a long hiatus, I returned to this place for another try this spring. I’ve disliked Pierluigi on past visits, finding the food to be abundantly mediocre, which is why I stayed away for years. And so it was again when I went for lunch and had so-so pasta and fish that was swimming in a viscous pool of butter. Ewe.

Primo al Pigneto: Ugh! So over this place. More here.

2016-01-07T03:37:41+00:00 December 28th, 2010|Categories: Food & Wine, Restaurants, Rome & Lazio|8 Comments


  1. Elizabeth December 28, 2010 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Your lists are always so different than mine! I love the antipasti at Bir & Fud, which are always different and delicious. Ditto for Balladin, but also like their chicken wings. But both places are about the beer, and not the food so much.
    I’ve eaten about six times this year at Pierluigi, and always had excellent (but a bit overpriced) food. But Pierluigi is as much about the setting (which is uniquely beautiful) as the food.
    Yeah, still waiting for the mexcican thing to happen in Rome. Have you ever been to the Peruvian place in Pigneto? Sounds promising. Not mexican, but…want to try it.

  2. Mary December 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    Here’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance to make your day. I’m in Mexico right now (Cabo San Lucas, Baja) reading your post about worst Rome restaurants and note your lament (and Elizabeth’s) re the lack of a good Mexican restaurant there. Although I love Mexican food (the real, Diana Kennedy, deal…amazing spices, complex salsas) I live for my annual trip to Italy, scheduling meals instead of museums. So I mourn the dearth of over the top Italian restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. So….I when I’m in Cabo I drive up the Pacific Coast from Cabo about an hour to a little village called Todos Santos to Cafe Santa Fe–where the grilled vegetables are grown in the Huerta (Ranch) down the road and the daily specials of gnocchi and pasta are simply amazing. Opened by a Milanese, Ezio, and his wife Paula, this restaurant is a 5 star anywhere in the world, but to combine it with an 18th century mission church, art galleries and the historic (but inauthentic) Eagles’ Hotel California–believe it or not a tourist draw–and it becomes a “must see” and “must eat” destination! Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo!

  3. Alberto December 28, 2010 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Great list as usual. Just one note… think about that 2 in the list supposed to have the same food consultant at the beginning… it is not an accuse, but I think that you can find a comparison between the two places… 😉

  4. patrizia December 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    i am italian woman , my husband works in food business and i had many opportunities to enjoy ROMA Restaurants. i disagree for some brand you mentioned, bir and fud , baladin and obikà. they didn’t serve anytime 2 star michelin food but they opened a new way to eat in rome, without any kind of prejudice and at the market price. sorry for my bad english but i think your overall comment is ok but i am sure in rome WOrst category should include other restaurants.

  5. Katie December 30, 2010 at 9:24 am - Reply

    @Elizabeth i totally agree that bir&fud and open baladin are better for beer than food, but both places tout the food as being amazing and it, simply, is not. ive been to the peruvian place in pigneto but i know next to nothing about peruvian cuisine so i really cannot judge it.

    @Mary feliz navidad y feliz ano nuevo to you too! please eat some great mexican food for us and we will eat simple italian for you in return!

    @Alberto so you are of course referring to Bonci as consultant for Bir and for Open. I eat at pizzarium all the time and, while i think some slices are impossible to eat, the food is always good and well supervised. there is quality control and consistency there that is totally absent at bir and open.

    @patrizia thanks for your comment and PLEASE dont apologize for your English. it is absolutely fine! I agree that there are many places in rome that could make a “worst restaurants” list, but this post was about my worst meals in rome this year. I do a lot of research on where to eat, so perhaps that spares me from the truly awful places, but, sadly I do encounter terrible meals every now and again, as this post attests.

  6. My Very Best Bites of 2010 January 2, 2011 at 7:27 am - Reply

    […] already been over some of the worst. Now it’s time to relive the best bites of 2010. The past year was kind of nuts. I really […]

  7. Emiko January 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    This is a great idea; makes me think of all the horrible places I’ve eaten in Florence this year too! Obika Florence is one of them – my experience of the chain is much like your review here. Looking forward to the Best of 2010!

    • Katie January 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm - Reply

      The best of list is up (finally!). You can find it here. I just checked out your blog and it is gorgeous. Complimenti!

Leave A Comment

You are currently not connected to the internet