Numero 1: Vulio
So with a holiday postponed, I find myself with six days and nothing planned. So whilst pottering through the internet, I decided to think about maybe going for lunch and popped on to TripAdvisor for their recommendations (the food in Rome so far has been hit and miss) and it was then that I stumbled on an idea….trying the top 100 restaurants in Rome and blogging about it.
So with that in mind, today I stumbled off to numero 1: Vulio
Literally a two minute walk from Metro stop Ottivana (and not far from the Vatican) off a small side street, Vulio is quite a small eatery. Being quite early, I was the second customer but by the time I left, the place was packed. Vulio is a lunch time place. It serves bruschetta but with their own freshly baked bread. There is a set menu but you can play around with it. I asked for the server’s recommendation and she suggested Caparezza which has the following ingredients:
Pane e Pomodoro, olio evo, origano fresco del Gargano, capocollo di Martina Franca, caciocavallo podolico del Gargano, valeriana e spinacino
I also ordered wine. I felt really sorry for the server because she was on her own and was trying to take orders and make the food at the same time so there was a wait but not a wait that was insufficient.
The bruschetta came out and it was delicious. I always feel awkward eating bruschetta with my hands because it can be quite messy but once I got over this self-consciousness, I munched happily away. The bread was warm and well salted with the right amount of olive oil and the meat absolutely delicious. I love cheese so that was a win. It also came with olives and a lovely little piece of crostini which was delicious – I think with oregano.
The other options looked equally delightful and I am really keen to go back and try the bruschetta with burrata.
My glass of vino was plentiful…definitely felt a little merry upon leaving and all in all it was a delicious lunch for a total cost of 8.50 euros which, with the wine, I thought was really reasonable.
Total cost = 8.50
Nearest metro: Ottivano
Numero 2: Cipasso
All indications for this restaurant were that it was pretty hard to get a table with some reviewers quoting a 75 minute wait. The trick then is to go slightly earlier (bearing in mind the Italians eat at 9pm on average) and this seemed to work for me as there were a number of tables free which soon filled up after my arrival.
Cipasso is a cosy restaurant with limited seating, hence the lack of availability on occasion but it has a warm atmosphere and the servers were incredibly friendly and helpful. They were attentive but not too attentive.
My trick is to ask for the server’s recommendations to try and get the best food in each restaurant or eaterie. Here, I went with Crostini pecorino cheese, black pepper and pears and the veal and beef meatballs with aubergine which I then followed with a panna cotta. Delicious – every course. The crostini was soft and easy to eat and the flavours really complemented each other well. The meatballs were the best meatballs I have ever had. Usually, I dislike meatballs but, firstly, the meat was really good quality and secondly, adding in the melanzane gave it the right amount of moisture. Finally, the panna cotta was delicious with the frutta di bosca – I like panna cotta as it feels like a light desert although there was a lot of panna cotta here.
Total cost = 38 euro
Nearest metro: Lepanto and then bus down.
Numero 3: Pizza e mozarella
Many of the top places, as recommended by TripAdvisor are lunchtime places rather than restaurants. This is one such place. Tiny with approx. 10 seats, this serves pizza. To me, as someone who lives in Rome, I couldn’t distinguish it too much from the pizza bar I am used to frequenting. The pizza was great – I had the mozzarella, basil and tomato pizza and then a red onion pizza and I got free water, which was a nice touch, but this did not strike me as a stand out place. A nice place for lunch but definitely not guaranteed to get a seat.
Total cost = 3.70
Nearest metro: Barberini or Spagna (close to Pantheon)
Numero 4: Pane e Salmone
Not feeling totally content with my lunch choice, I decided to stop off for a drink opposite the Pantheon, which is by far my favourite. If you are coming to Rome my advice would be don’t eat in the immediate vicinity of a big tourist site…the food quality is not normally as good but the prices are sky high.
I continued on to Pane e Salmone. I was really excited about their cutting boards because the pictures on TripAdvisor looked awesome. Again, another small eaterie, I had to wait for a seat but this was perfectly fine. I could see the workers putting together orders and the range of fresh meat on display. I was quickly shown to my table and again asked what the server would recommend. His recommendation was the mixed cutting board containing meats, bruschetta and cheese with pickles. I opted for the medium sized one (which was ridiculous after already having pizza) and a glass of wine.
Oh my goodness was it delicious! The cutting board was full with meat and cheese and the bruschettas. The bruschettas were massively varied – there was a salmon one which was spicy, a mushroom one, an olive one and one with a slice of meat on top. The meat was really good quality and so varied. The cheeses were minimum in comparison to the meat but the honey and red onion marmalade was delicious. Alongside this, there were various roasted vegetables and a little salad.
This lunch was super tasty and probably my favourite cold / bread based lunch thus far. It was incredibly good value for money and I would definitely look to take guests here – maybe booking ahead if this is a possibility.
(PS. after having two lunches, I skipped out on dinner that evening!)
Total cost: 13.70 euro
Nearest metro: Barberini / Spagna
Numero 8: Rione XIV
Feeling full up with bread and pizza and bruschetta, I decided I wanted to go to a restaurant today and eat pasta. Usually pasta is eaten every day and I felt like I was getting withdrawal symptoms so I chose to go to Rione. The outside is nothing to shout about and, had you not done your tripadvisor research, you could easily miss this restaurant especially with so many other restaurants on the same road and this being down the far end.
So again this place is tiny – 10-15 seats max and I headed down fairly early to guarantee getting a seat. The décor is really nice and there was music playing which created a really relaxed atmosphere. The server was really lovely and dealt with me in Italian and English – I am trying.
I followed his recommendation for starter – bruschetta with cheese, walnuts and honey which was really delicious. It could have done with slightly more honey as it really went well with the other two flavours. I then ordered what has slowly become one of my favourite dishes – Cacio e Pepe – this is a Roman dish of cheese and pepper….it is simple but oh so delicious. This was definitely the best one I had. There was not too much cheese so the spaghetti is wet and the pepper flavour was so good. It was also a really large portion and filled me right up!
To drink I had acqua natural and a glass of vino.
I loved it and, again, this is definitely somewhere I would go back.
Total euros = 20.50
Nearest metro: Ottivano
Numero 9: Borghiciana Pastificio Artigianale
A new day, a new restaurant. Common themes to the most popular restaurants seem to be the lack of seating. This restaurant seats 12ish so again is tight for space. The server was polite but less friendly than the ones I had come across before but this might have been because he was on his own.
Again, I went with the recommendations of the server and this time it was pasta with zucchini. It was delicious and the bacon was out of this world. It was incredibly understated- plastic plate and cutlery so no expense spared and because the pasta was a little wet it was harder to eat (the Italian way).
However, although the food was great, the small size of the restaurant and the demand made me feel as though I had to rush. I had people literally stood behind me waiting for my seat. This ruined the experience a little for me. It feels like this place is an eat and go and I like lunch to be a little more chilled.
Feeling the rush, I decided to take some of the deli with me – mushrooms stuffed with gorgonzola and something else and zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta which I can’t wait to try.
Nearest metro: Ottivano
Meal: 9 Euro discounting takeaways
3.5/4 out of 5 – not for food but for general atmosphere.