Trattoria Monti, Rome

Written by Katie Parla on October 25, 2008

I try my best to stay up on restaurants in Rome but this is no easy task. No matter how hard I try to branch out, there are a few places in Rome that I return to again and again. Believe it or not, consistently above average (and economically accessible) restaurants with decent service are hard to come by in Rome. One I religiously depend on is Trattoria Monti. Recommended in nearly every major guide book and travel publication, this small, bright place, a stone’s throw from Piazza Vittorio maintains its quality and authenticity in spite of its popularity.

The food is mostly marchegiano (from the region of Le Marche on Italy’s central Adriatic coast), which features many handmade egg-based pastas, small game birds, rabbits, and some fish. They have an extensive selection of vini marchegiani-I highly recommend trying one of the fabulous wines from the region. Le Marche’s best varietal white is called Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and is made from the Verdicchio grape; a prestigious red is called Rosso Conero made from the Montepulciano grape and up to 15% Sangiovese.

But lets back up a moment. First you need to make a reservation, an absolute necessity on most nights, unless you want to risk it and try walking in after 10pm. Regardless of how busy the restaurant is, the Camarucci brothers who own Trattoria Monti will greet you kindly and inform you of the day’s specials, crafted from seasonal ingredients.

I suggest beginning with one of their legendary tortini. Translated as flan on the English menu, a tortino is a savory egg custard mixed with veggies and/or cheese. There are several to choose from–I love the cheesy tortino al parmigiano–and it’s not a bad idea to try several. After all, you only live once. While you are at it, ask for some olive ascolane (deep fried olives filled with meat), native to the city of Ascoli Piceno and one of the best foods ever invented.

There are always several pasta specials to choose from, though if you want something uniquely marchgiano, go for the tortello al rosso d’uovo, a large raviolo stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and runny egg yolk, all dressed with a light tomato and basil sauce. If you happen to be there at the right time of year, you may find pasta or risotto with zucchini flowers, pumpkin soup, or pasta with truffles. I am a fan of their pappardelle con asparagi (flat noodles with asparagus) when asparagus is in season.

Second courses include both fish and meat. Involtini di pesce spada (swordfish filets rolled around breadcrumbs, pine nuts and herbs) or baccala’ (cod) prepared in a number of ways are always available. I prefer the rich meat based second courses like stuffed quail or coniglio imporchettato (rabbit stuffed with truffles and sausage). The second courses, too, change depending on the season. Look for game in the autumn and lamb in the spring.

I seriously advise diners to eat every single course at Trattoria Monti, including dessert. I am fully obsessed with their semifreddo all’amaretto (a semi-frozen amaretto ice cream) though in the fall I must have the mousse alle castagne (chestnut mouse).

So, book well in advance and go to Trattoria Monti. Whether you follow my advice or not, you can’t go wrong.

Via San Vito 13
Closed Sun dinner & Mon

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