La Fraschetta del Pesce, Roma, August 6, 2016

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.

The Captain, Marco, and me. If I look like I've had half-a-bottle of Vermentino, it's because I did.

The Captain, Marco, and me. If I look like I’ve had half-a-bottle of Vermentino, it’s because I did.

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.

Today with the antipasto, a bruschetta taking advantage of abundant summer tomatoes and a bit of fresh anchovy.

Today with the antipastobruschetta taking advantage of abundant summer tomatoes and a bit of fresh anchovy.

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.

Mussesl -- or cozze -- plump and delicious. I could eat these all night.

Mussels — or cozze — plump and delicious. I could eat these all night.

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.

Calamari alla piastra, or grilled calamari, our other favorite.

Calamari alla piastra, or grilled calamari, another favorite.

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!

Zoe's calamari fritti. Not greasy, not previously frozen. Made fresh daily.

Zoe’s calamari fritti. Not greasy, not previously frozen. Made fresh daily.

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 server is a blur as she acreens through the restaurant, delivering great seafood.

A server is a blur as she careens through the restaurant, delivering great seafood.

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.
Il Comandante

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.

I did not discover teh tuna until about 15 months ago. Now I order it every time. Done to perfection!

I did not discover the tuna until about 15 months ago. Now I order it every time. Done to perfection!

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.



7 comments on “La Fraschetta del Pesce, Roma, August 6, 2016

  1. […] I called one of our two favorite restaurants, La Fraschetta del Pesce to make a reservation. Il Commandante (The Captain) recognized me immediately, was delighted to […]


  2. Michael, Ric and I went low-carb Atkins-style in 2000 and I personally lost 47 pounds then. Some crept back on, but then we lost even more when we moved to Rome in 2012, just from lifestyle changes: walking, fresh food (despite the pizza and pastry). Some of that crept back in the past two years although we had kept our exercise level up, so we decided August was the month to do it and try to drop the ten-or-so pounds plaguing us and keeping me out of my skinny jeans. It’s just so darn much cooking/prep and a b*&%* to avoid the cornetti! And wine is included. Life is too short!


  3. Sounds like a divine place. I love the “nobody under 5” rule — I’ve had more than a few meals ruined by screamers and wanderers and poorly skilled parents who can’t manage them (yes, not every parent is a good one, and not every child is an angel)

    Great to see you try the low-carb thing, I’m here to tell you that it works wonderfully, the trick is just to manage the intake in a carb-saturated culture. I find I’m much happier, think more clearly and I’m leaner with no more than 50g of carbs a day. Yes, that’s not much, and it forces you to really only eat the carbs you can savor and enjoy with intention. (BTW, I exclude wine from my 50g carb limited :-D)


  4. We miss you guys and The Rome Dining Club!


  5. Wish we were there – Bill and Melissa!


  6. I swear you are my sister by another mother, Carolyn.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a delightful restaurant. All the food looks so perfect – all my kind of likes! I think his children under 5 rule is wonderful too.

    Liked by 1 person

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