June 26, 2018 local produce, Roma No Comments

Agustarello

There are few greater joys than a boozy lunchtime catch-up with a pal of long-standing, so when my second day in Rome presented the opportunity for lunch with Roman oracle Agnes, I was thoroughly delighted.

Gricia

It was nice to meet Agnes’ friend Rachel shortly before and hear about their plans for more food and history blended tours of the city. I’d recommend their upcoming dates to you wholeheartedly.

On Rachel’s suggestion, Agnes and I headed to a lovely little trattoria called Agustarello in Testaccio, which apparently promised some adventurous whatnots along the offal route.

Corratella

We sat in their covered outside area where you could spy evidence of the original walls of meat markets for which this neighbourhood is famous.

Agnes took charge of ordering as seemed sensible. We shared a portion of a gricia pasta dish to open, then followed with coda alla vaccinara – a classic Roman oxtail stew – and corratella con carciofi – a mix of lamb heart, lungs, liver and other offally bits served with seasonal artichokes.

Greens

The pattern with pasta dishes in Rome is that you get amatriciana, carbonara, cacio e pepe and gricia pretty much everywhere and that’s that. Their might be a daily special or two, but otherwise things follow this classic formula.

I had had amatriciana at Roscioli the night before, I was confident that carbonara would feature at a visit to the excellent Pigneto Quarantuno at some point on my stay (it did and it remains spectacular), and the word was that the gricia was where Agustarello’s strength was so that seemed a good way to go.

Coda

Gricia is simplicity itself with just cured pig’s cheek (guanciale), black pepper and pecorino cheese accounting for the ingredients. The pasta served was rigatoni. It was an excellent dish with the guanciale finely chopped and beautifully crunchy and the pasta accurately cooked to an al dente bite.

The corratella was served on toast and reminded me of the classic drilled kidneys on toast from The Dogs with added interest from the range of textures of the various organs and the artichokes. I was impressed.

Probably the star of the show was the coda with incredibly tender meaty lending itself to easy picking off the tailbone. Cooked with a dash of bitter chocolate in the stew mix, the deeply rich gravy was almost as wondrous as the meat itself. I took great pleasure in mopping it up by making my tiny shoe, which I’m told is what Romans call the business of licking the plate without actually licking the plate – fare la scarpetta.

Dessert

We had accompanied this with an enjoyably ignorant white wine, then followed this with some all too knowing amaro which we had with their dessert special. This was an outstanding cherry wine cake. The texture had a smoothness to it but the flavour was light and delicate. It felt like a very well judged end to an excellent meal.

So overall, Agustarello served us a memorably good lunch for an extremely reasonable price. Their classic Roman dishes showed considerable skill of execution and showcased some ingredients that perhaps wouldn’t be found in more tourist-focussed places. I’d recommend it to you next time the road leads you to Testaccio. I’d be very pleased to return and try more dishes from their menu.

Today’s questers were: Agnes, Blythe

We ate: gricia, coda, corratella, wine cake

We drank: white wine, amaro, water, espresso

We wore: action footwear

Total bill: €75

Address: Via Giovanni Branca, 100, 00153 Roma

Written by BKR