Monday, December 12, 2011

Dining in Rome- restaurant reviews

Obika Mozzarella Bar  
Our hotel was right across from this place and even though I had not really planned at eating there, I was aware of such a place .. I mean come on, a Mozzarella Bar sounds intriguing right? So we got take out after checking in to the hotel.  We had reached late after an exhausting long day in Florence and the train ride and most of the other restaurants nearby were closed. We ordered the Farro vegetable soup with mozzarella topping and the roasted tomato soup. Let me tell you at the end of that long day, the soup with croutons totally hit the spot. Sorry, no pictures.. too tired and starving to click. ;-)

Cafe Mancini 
I found out about this place from Chowhound and turns it was literally again, just a few feet from the hotel.  But when we got there, we learnt it was closed and instead called "Costa Rei"... specializing in seafood. Did not dine there.

Osteria de Mario - 
We stumbled upon this place we got bad attitude from a waiter at the restaurant we had originally planned on. So, we walked out. :) 
This place was a cute joint with heated tents (very common for outdoor seating in the winter/rainy season). We had the grilled vegetable platter (antipasti) which was a bit oily but tasty. It had zucchini, eggplant, navy beans, pickled cabbage (YUM), pepperoncini (kind of like banana peppers) . We also had the minestrone soup which was really good and the fettuccine alfredo. In Florence, we were tipped to have chicory greens in Rome, so that's what we ordered. They were sauteed in a lot of garlic and olive oil. It was quite tasty but we couldn't finish the portion. The portions were HUGE.  We finished off the meal with a limencello and some biscotti. The service was super friendly and very quick. 

So, how about a snack?

LOL. I think NOT!!!!

Arlu a San Pietro (Vatican) 
I highly highly recommend this place. We went there for lunch after a tour of the St Peter Basilica. The tomato and mozzarella lasagna was simple yet amazingly delicious as was the veggie pizza with mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant. Thought we mostly ate pizzas and pastas we never got tired of it :) Service was super quick which was good because we were so hungry!! 

Alla Campana
This place was recommended by our hotel for our anniversary dinner. It was a short 6 minute walk from our hotel. I had a really yummy artichoke ravioli in a pink sauce and Rajesh had a lentil pasta soup. We ordered an appetizer of mozzarella, tomatoes and greens. It was divine!! I had never cut into a ball of mozzarella to eat as an appetizer so we were certainly dining the Italian way that night!  The waiter first gave us an Italian menu and then hurriedly brought us the English menu upon seeing our confused faces.

So another real neat thing about this restaurant is that it's part grocery store. No I'm kidding. When you first walk in, it appears like the produce aisle of Kroger, but they display all their fresh produce and cheese and when you order it, they walk with some of the ingredients and then present it to you as part of your dish. At least, that's what I inferred. They also had some desserts on display like the red wine poached pears. 

Il Margutta
I give this place only 3 out of 5 stars. This all vegetarian only place was recommended again by forumites on Chowhound but I wasn't too impressed. The variety was obvious in the brunch buffet but the food was average. The dishes were not warm and I didn't get a satisfying feeling at the end.. probably because I ate too much but you know that feeling at the end of a buffet when you feel so full but not like you really enjoyed the meal? Anyway that was me after that meal.  The food was just OK.Maybe the a la carte dinner is better.. but the brunch is an excellent value 12 euros per person (soup, one plate of food from buffet, water, and fresh fruit). Guess what though? The one thing that stood out for me was the "matar paneer" which my tastebuds craved!! You can guess why! 
It was quite a hike from our hotel but luckily that morning, we were near the restaurant sightseeing near Piazza del Popolo.

Il Chianti
Next to Trevi Fountain. This is where we had the best pizza of the entire trip- Cipolla (onion) pizza with black olives. The mixed salad (greens, corn, cherry tomatoes, olives and mozzarella) was incredibly fresh and satisfying and complimented the pizza very well. The wine was amazing. And OMG the dessert was puff pastry with mascarpone filling and fresh strawberries on top and a strawberry sauce on the side. DECADENT! I would say this was the best meal we had in Rome.

One of the many cappuccinos.. this one came from the heart ;-)

Got Any Cheeeeeeese?
A Typical Italian Deli

Night and Day
Joint near the Pantheon- a disappointing last day dinner. I dont recommend this place. Felt like I was eating sub par food.. the pizza tasted like American takeout pizza :( Sucked because this was our last meal in Italy.. 
However overall, we had some great eats and some unique experiences and we learnt to say a lot of "Prego, Prego" !!!!! 

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