Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rome Journal: Trattoria, Ristorante, Osteria or Enoteca?

"Roman Osteria" by Aleksandr Laureus (1820)
Everyone is always looking for the perfect trattoria in Rome and they come and go. Trattorias serve pastas like cacio e pepe and carbonara and they may have platters of prosciutto and salamis, naturally insalate mista, sometimes a variety of pizzas including the classic margherita and then things like osso buco. Roman trattorias are rarely known for their pastries, but there's often zabaglione, the dessert stirred up of eggs and marsala wine. OK trattorias can be compared to diners in New York due to their set offerings, but on a de facto basis, they tend to be better, if only because of the ingredients, which are often a source of pride. Even though a New York diner is open 24 hours a day, there's no guarantee that the turnover will result in freshness. Now a ristorante is another matter all together. Like Tolstoy’s unhappy families Rome ristorantes each attempt to be exemplary in their own way and the fare may vary including such dishes as maolino, roast pig served at the magnificent Tavernaccia da Bruno, a steak with a bone, appropriately named the Tomahawk, a specialty of Il Focolare in the Monteverdi section and Grano which has a flare for desserts. Beef by the way is not a Roman specialty and you’ll find that some  of the good beef to be found in Rome comes from Ireland. Ristorante Maccheroni near the Pantheon is a little more than kin and less than kind, mixing the bustling qualities of a trattoria with some of the specialties of a restaurant and if you sit in the center room, you can watch the cooking. Lumie di Sicilia on the Gianicolo is on the other hand plainly a restaurant which serves regional fare. Of course Rome has its share of osterias and enotecas, but where in this holy city can you can pluck from the tree of forbidden fruit?

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