Via dei Fienili 50, Phone: 06/6780933
San Teodoro feels removed from the madding crowds of the centro storico, but remains geographically smack in the center of Rome. The surroundings are typical breathtaking Roman stage setting: an enclosed piazza, ivy-draped walls, atop the Palatine hill -- nestled aside the Roman Forum and Monte Caprino, the hillside park adjacent to the Campidoglio. Here, civilized locals, politicians, and in-the-know foodies dine on refined Roman fare, featuring tastes of the Roman Jewish kitchen, and specializing in seafood. With (mostly) courteous service and an interesting menu, including several variations of tasting menus, San Teodoro lies somewhere above typical trattoria but hovers below the esoteric of a break-the-bank Michelin meal. The outdoor deck is lovely in warm weather, offering the shade of umbrellas and the intimacy of candlelight, and in cooler months, the brightly-decorated rooms with contemporary art and glass doors abutting the deck offer an extremely pleasant dining option. The small but varied menu includes classic fried artichokes (among the best in the city), and the Roman classic rigatoni all'amatriciana. An unusual appetizer of calamari, white beans, and bottarga (dried pressed mullet roe, shaved into thin slices) is a warm, harmonious medley of flavor and texture. Fresh sole in a tomato, zucchini flower, and thyme broth, and roasted turbot delicately crusted in paper-thin potato slices let the delicate flavor of the fish shine. The wine list is well-picked and represents the various regions of Italy. Here, even dessert surpasses the banal Italian offerings of most menus (go for the chocolate medley). Prices have creeped up significantly in recent years, but considering the quality, this is still one of the better dining experiences in the Eternal City.
Alle Fratte di Trastevere
Via delle Fratte di Trastevere 49/5000153, Trastevere. Phone: 06/5835775
Closed Wed. and 2 wks in August
There are countless trattorias in Rome. Some are good and some are not good at all – and some surpass the good by having food that’s just a little bit fresher, with service that’s warm and welcoming. Alle Fratte is one of those in the latter category. Here you find staple Roman trattoria fare as well as dishes with a southern Italian slant. This means that spaghetti alla carbonara (with pancetta, eggs, and cheese) shares the menu with penne alla Sorrentina (with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella). For starters, the bruschette here are so simple, you wonder what exactly it is that makes them so tasty. The pressed octopus carpaccio, while less common, is no less delicious on a bed of peppery Roman arugula. For secondi, you can again look south and to the sea for the mixed seafood pasta or a grilled sea bass with oven-roasted potatoes, or go for meat with a fillet al pepe verde (green peppercorns in a brandy cream sauce). Service is always with a smile, as Peppe, the owners’ longtime trusted waiter, makes you feel like you’re eating in your Neapolitan aunt’s dining room.