Our Weekly Pizza is going lo-carb. For four weeks we consumed amazing pasta, strudel, and the wonderful bread of the Alto Adige. We were hiking to work it off, but now that we are back in the flatlands of Roma, something had to change for a few weeks. Protein and vegetables are on the menu, along with enough wine and grappa to keep us from wanting to dive off the 3rd-floor terrace.
This is, of course, a golden opportunity to fill you in on some other great dining establishments in Roma. As we wind down our time in Italy, we are revisiting places that are special to us, so OWP will take you along for the ride. It will not be forever, this hiatus from pizza. We might make it three or four weeks.
The first week of our self-induced deprivation we took our visiting friend, Zoe, to what is one of our favorite restaurants in Roma: La Fraschetta del Pesce. It is not an easy place to get to as it is far outside the zone tourists frequent, so we hopped in a cab from Piazza Navona with Zoe at a cost of about €15.00.
When we first arrived in Roma, Ric found La Fraschetta thanks to a 2012 article in The Guardian: “Where to eat in Rome — by the city’s cabbies.” This list has led us to some terrific venues and great meals, and one clinker. But I digress. We have been dining with Il Comandante (Captain) — Marco Magliozzi — for 4 years, and we cannot get enough of it.
The first time we visited, my Italian was not very good but we struggled through with the non-English-speaking owner and staff. At the end of our meal, Marco came and knelt by the table. “Come ci avete trovato?” (How did you find us?) Although he was pleased by the answer, he certainly does not need to promote: his place is full every night. People without reservations are turned away at the door. By now, when I call to reserve, he recognizes my voice and we are warmly welcomed as regulars, although we only make it here 4 or 5 times a year.
Marco used to be a fisherman and has owned fish stores. Now his son does the fishing out of Anzio and everything is fresh and simply prepared. The staff is well-trained and operates with little direction from Marco. Marco takes every order personally, but the guys and gals in sailor shirts deliver the goods. And it comes out fast!
We always start with the Antipasto al Portodanzese a reference to the provenance of the products, Anzio. This spread for two people could be called dinner. (With Zoe along, we let Il Comandante talk us into two portions. Error!) Dish after dish of beautiful seafood arrived: Huge bowls of mussels steamed in white wine and herbs, fried calamari, fresh alici, fried shrimp, bruschetta with alici, and sometimes more. Sometimes things I don’t recognize, but it is all delicious.
A few years ago we realized it was best to have either a pasta or a secondo. Even sharing a pasta was too much, so we go right to the main dishes: grilled calamaro for Ric and grilled tonno for me. These are best washed down with a crisp Vermentino and usually accompanied by Ric’s favorite veg, cicoria ripassata, a bitter green sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes. God we are going to miss this stuff when we come back the U.S! Where are we going to find field-grown chicory? Spinach is a reasonable substitute, but not the same.
The decor is classic beach-kitsch, which works. Not a place for romance, the tables are crowded with groups of friends and large families clearly enjoying the hospitality. But there are no children under five allowed, which is another reason to love the place. In fact, on the restaurant’s home page Marco has posted this notice:
Because of unpleasant episodes due to lack of parental (emphasis added) manners, this establishment does not welcome the presence of children under five years (who are) left without direction, nor the entry of strollers or high chairs for reasons of space
Certain of your understanding in advance, thank you, Dear Clientele.
It seems he had some poorly behaved parents who let their little monsters run around the restaurant, tripping servers and generally causing an unpleasant experience, so he put an end to it: no small children, strollers, nor highchairs. Lots of press coverage, an example here from the British press, and allegations that it is illegal to exclude children, but we have not seen any young ones there and the notice persists. Personally, I love it.
No pizza on this menu, although as you can see we snuck some carbs in courtesy of breading on the calamari. But no dessert and no pasta! Dinner for three with wine and water, the giant antipasto, three secondi, and cicoria was €82.00. We’d easily pay that for two of us in the center of Rome, and often more. It’s worth the taxi fare.
FYI, the address in The Guardian article from 2012 is incorrect. When you go, check the website and be sure to call for a reservation. Tell Il Comandante that the Bartons sent you.