L’Arcangelo is the polished Prati restaurant where chef Arcangelo Dardini built his name before putting it on the excellent street food outposts Supplizio and Ora da Re. I feel like I’m only now starting to understand L’Arcangelo after five visits over a decade. For a restaurant that has been so heavily covered by foreign press, I’m delighted to conclude that it’s getting significantly better with age.
SantoPalato is having a moment. My friends who are traveling to Rome routinely ask about this new trattoria. They’ve heard about it from Katie Parla in pieces from the New York Times or Eater (links below) and want to know if it lives up to the hype.
That hype is significant, but it’s not without substance. Sarah Cicolini is a sincere and gutsy cook who centers her cuisine around the off-cuts known in Rome as quinto quarto. Cicolini has a strong philosophy about using all parts of the animal. If you’re into that, you’re going to have a ball at SantoPalato (maybe literally).
For a while now, I’ve been on the hunt for a new Cesare. Ever since Katie Parla called this “the perfect trattoria” back in 2012, Cesare has been prominently on the radar of hungry travelers. 2015 was a record year for anglophone press coverage (see links below), but with the recent publication of Eater’s Guide to Rome, in which the trattoria is featured prominently in four different articles, I believe we are now experiencing Peak Cesare.
I’ve never disagreed with any of these rave reviews. But I’ve wondered, like Peggy Lee, “is that all there is?”
Opinion about this family-run restaurant in the Jewish quarter is strongly divided, and our own experience here has been mixed. If we’re sitting outside in beautiful weather and sipping wine while gazing at the columns of the portico d’Ottavio, it’s hard to find fault with anything in the world. The spell is slightly lifted, however, when we’re dining indoors and not distracted by the spectacular scenery.
Earlier this week I was reflecting, while tasting vignarola at a more vintage trattoria, upon the widespread torture of vegetables taking place in kitchens across Rome. The classic preparation of spring asparagus, artichokes, fava beans and peas renders these greenest of vegetables into a soft and oily pile of khaki. There’s still pleasure to be found, especially when cubes of guanciale are tossed into the mix, but I’ve often wondered how much better vignarola could be if it were prepared with a lighter touch.
Last night, Trattoria Pennestri provided an answer to this (it’s better!) and to another recurring question – what’s new in Rome?