Osteria der Belli, Trastevere
Trattoria Enzo al 29, Trastevere
We do a city break each year at this time; ostensibly to celebrate our wedding anniversary and my birthday, but also in the hope of discovering new places ,and a touch of early spring sunshine. We got it.
I always do tons of research each trip as I love doing so. I trawl through websites such as Chic Retreats, I-Escape and Mr and Mrs Smith searching or simply google `Boutique Hotels in …` to find the perfect place, in the perfect location, (I found our hotel in Mr and Mrs Smith) . I also spend ages choosing where we will eat. That doesn`t mean we don`t come across delightful little lunchy places when we get there, often recommended by someone you start chatting to in a bar or café…. but I like to be booked in for a couple of dinners, so we don`t miss out on the eateries of our choice; being the foodies that we are. This was especially pertinent in the case of the tiny Da Enzo al 29, in Trastevere, as we got stuck in a taxi driving along the banks for the Tiber as they were filming the new James Bond film( utter chaos on the already crazy road), and if we hadn`t booked I think we would still have been queuing to eat , such is the popularity of this family-run busy ,buzzy trattoria. It was a memorable meal that`s for sure. Sublime, simple, freshly cooked local food. I searched out the places the Romans eat, and we had some of the best food we have ever eaten. When in Rome …
Take a peek at www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com for real inspiration., this is where I found Al Enzo amongst others .We love busy bustling trattorias with carafes of wine, lots of banter, and all crammed in for the love of food. We ate the best garlicky spaghetti con vongole, (I am truly mad about clams) at Trattoria Brunetti, and the most divine carbonara ever at Al Enzo, no gelatinous cream laden sauces, just fresh parmesan and pecorino, bright yellow egg yolks and chunks of smokey, fatty melt in the mouth pigs cheek.
Artichokes were on every menu, ( fried Jewish style) as was creamy white Burrata, and delicious oily anti pasti.I really loved the aubergines which had just been thinly sliced and drowned in olive oil, parlsey , lemon and chilli, delicious with grilled lamb.
I could rave about the food for hours.Other foodie delights were the light as a feather pastries ( almond jam stuffed crosissants) for breakfast each day at our favourite caffe Navone, a few hundred yards from our hotel, on the corner of Piazza del Popolo, (where we sat each days for a few hours faces to the sun and watching the oh so chic Italians in their black Moncler jackets and fur trimmed parkas), the best, thinnest crispest pizza ever topped with zucchini flowers and anchovies at the fun Trattoria Pizzaria dal Pollarolo, family-owned since 1936 when it just sold chickens.I love stuffed Zucchini flowers too, full of ricotta and anchovies and fried in tempura…
I also swooned over the tiny glass of mascapone mousse topped with wild strawberries at Al Enzo as my husband sampled (at the insistence of the waiter of course)glass after glass of the chocolatey Jannamico liquer.
We stayed in Margutta 54. It is in the most perfect position, very central, the smartest most interesting area, and 20 minutes walk from the Spanish Steps, Borghese gardens et al. Owned by Count Alberto Moncada, whose great grand father built this amazing building in the 1920s.It housed studios for artists and musicians such as Picasso( whose studio was opposite our suite), Fellini and Puccini. Indeed Gregory Peck`s apartment in Roman Holiday was three doors down from us.
Alberto has written a charming illustrated `Roman notebook` which each guest receives, and it was just perfect for us, with tales of his childhood running in the Borghese gardens, his love of the Bloody Mary Cocktails at the Hotel de Russie , and special places to dine , drink and shop in.( I also took his advice and bought a piar of red socks for my son from a shop behind the Pantheon in the Via del Cestari where they sell `ecclestico` clothing; fascinating…these socks are made especially for the Pope!
We took his book everywhere with us. The Via Margutta was most definitely our favourite spot, a cobbledy street full of antique shops, galleries and quirky studios.We loved walking across the gravel courtyard amidst the artist studios each morning, opening our private gate and out into the sunshine to the Piazza as the city woke up.
We did a few touristy things bemoaning the crowds and the queues, but managed to see the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, the Gothic church Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and the Trevi Fountain which disappointedy had no water in it, as it is being renovated..so no coins in the fountain for us sadly.
Another highlight was going to the oldest jazz club in Italy-pre-booked before we went-Alexander Platz Jazz Club is in a sort of cave down some steps and all the great have played there. We loved it. It was everything a jazz club should be with a very smart all Italian crowd. We saw the amazing Brazilian saxophonist Sergio Galvao, who played both a tenor and alto sax.
Rome is stylish, full of great sights both ancient and modern, fabulous designer shops, the best food ever if you avoid touristy and uber expensive stuffy restaurants, walkable ( my feet did kill each night though) and very sunshiney. There are taxi ranks on the corner of each square ( you can`t flag a taxi here), and the drivers are fun and not pricey. For example the trips to the airport are fixed price from the centre of Rome .
And don`t ever forget to look up. Such beautiful building, shutters, architecture and the bluest of skies….
Sit a while like we did each afternoon in the Borghese gardens or the Piazza del Popolo ( the peoples` square) and take it all in, people watch, sketch ( as my artist husband did), and listen to the strains of the buskers, church bells, and the hooting of cars.
Vini, Vidi, Vici !
Arriverderci bella Roma.