Ah, Roma. It had been three years almost to the day since my last visit, when MJ, Lauren and I had spent an excellent few days eating pizza, pasta and tripe salad.
On that visit we’d had excellent advice and company from our Roman friends Agnes and Massimo, with a couple of outstanding meals in their neighbourhood of Pigneto.
Arriving in mid evening on might first night of this visit, I snagged a seat at the bar in much-vaunted Roscioli on Via dei Giubbonari. This was, of course, after I’d eased my way into the city by renewing acquaintances with the excellent Open Baladin, a fantastic craft beer bar just around the corner.
Roscioli seems to appear on just about everyone’s list of recommended places in Rome’s city centre. It comes with the caveats that it is not cheap and that there are some perceived weaknesses on their very broad menu.
I took my reference point as Katie Parla’s review which recommended the burrata, the house mortadella and one of their classic pasta dishes. I added some oysters because I was feeling the need.
Service at the bar was attentive but demure, at least to begin with. Once it became clear to the counter man that I was a) hungry and b) thirsty for amaro, things followed a pretty jocular pattern. The American couple next to me, I fear, were fighting a somewhat losing battle in piquing his interest in being quite as helpful as he was to me.
Anyhoo, I started with a sipper of an excellent negroni featuring a vermouth from the Jerry Thomas Project. It was simple and elegant.
Next my big splodge of fresh burrata served with sunblushed tomatoes arrived as well as the mortadella topped with profuse grated parmigiano.
These were both of excellent quality with the porky mortadella profoundly satisfying.
With the three Breton oysters to follow I had a glass of franciacorta, which was an enjoyably sparkly accompaniment. The oysters were their usual rockpool treat.
The pasta dish was a simple classic – amatriciana – which brought together guanciale, tomato and pecorino cheese. Cooked al dente, it was another dish of understated brilliance. This was accompanied by a full-bodied by very light drinking red from the region.
I didn’t required dessert but some biscuits and chocolate dip arrived as I tried what proved to be one of the best espressos I’d had in the city. Oh, and I had some fun discovering the different types of fernet that are made. That was quite an eye-opener.
So overall, Roscioli lived up to and even exceeded expectations. I love dining at the bar in places generally, and I thought they delivered this very expertly. Much of what they offer is made with a hugely impressive attention to detail and no little passion. Next time I will bring friends as I’d very much like to introduce more people to this splendid place.
I ate: mortadella, burrata, oysters, amatriciana, chocolate goo with biscuits
I drank: negroni, franciacorta, red wine, sparkly water, fernet
I wore: loafers
Total bill: €113
Address: Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma