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.
L’Arcangelo is usually recommended for classic Roman pastas like Carbonara and for the pillowy delicious gnocchi. These are excellent. However, this is a restaurant where you should consider going off-script and exploring beyond the classics. Dardini is a serious chef with a deep understanding of Rome’s culinary past. While his classics are very good, I’m more interested these days in some of his less obvious proposals.
Yesterday, for example, I started with a salad of bitter herbs with shards of crunchy almond candy, anchovies, pollen and a perfectly poached egg. The name Viaggio a Rocca Priora is meant to evoke the journey to his hometown in the Castelli Romani villages outside of Rome. I can only conclude, based on the surprising combination of flavors in this salad, that Rocca Priora is a magical place. Some freshly baked bread helped me to scoop up every weird and wonderful bite.
Next up, I tasted Dardini’s ravioli filled with sweet onion and his recreation of garum, a sort of fish sauce from ancient Rome made with anchovies, rosemary, honey, oil and vinegar. This may sound like a flavor bomb, but in reality the onions and garum are a surprisingly subtle condiment to the dish’s real star – perfectly cooked pasta.
As strongly as I advise branching out from the classics, I also recommend coming for lunch. The dinner service is packed with foreign travelers. Lunch is almost never full – I’ve walked in without a reservation during my last two visits – and it’s mostly locals. Dardini is often there during the day, squeezing the shoulder or kissing the hand of his regular customers. He jumps in to deliver dishes personally, talking fervently in rapid Italian about ingredients and cooking techniques. The afternoon light is beautiful here, and it’s a nice place to linger over coffee and biscotti after lunch.
There’s nothing wrong with eating gnocchi at night surrounded by other gnocchi-eating foreigners. It’s good gnocchi. But there are more interesting layers to be explored at L’Arcangelo, and lunch is by far my favorite way to do this.
We’ve included this among our Favorite Restaurants in Rome.
Address: Via Giuseppe Giaocchinio Belli, 59
Hours: +39 06 321 0992
Telephone: Open Monday-Friday from 13:00-14:30 and from 20:00-22:30. Open Saturday for dinner only from 20:00-22:30. Closed Sunday.
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L’Arcangelo in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- Gambero Rosso (2018) has awarded L’Arcangelo with 2 Forks and a numerical rating of 81/100 in 2018, 81 in 2017, 82 in 2016, 82 in 2015.
- “Roma nel Piatto” by La Pecora Nera gave them a score of 7.5 out of 10 points (“good, very good”) in 2018 and 7.5 points in 2017.
- “I Cento” by EDT ranks this as their #32 restaurant in Rome for 2018.
- “I Ristoranti d’Italia” by L’Espresso awards them 1/5 hats (“good”) for 2018.
- Condé Nast Traveler (2017) says “The boiled chicken meatballs and paper-thin carpaccio are both fine starters, especially when followed by the risotto with anchovies and capers, designed to share.”
- The Telegraph (2017) Lee Marshall says that L’Arcangelo “was one of the first places in Rome to take the fresh-and-local trattoria formula and give it a cordon bleu twist. The good news is, it’s still one of the city’s best bets for a mid-range gourmet meal.”
- Luciano Pignatero (2016) says this is a place where you can eat well at a good price, where which the dishes are real, thoughtfully designed and never relying on the same-old tired routine that you find in most Roman restaurants. Dardini “studies the products of the countryside and seeks a continuous lightening, and therefore modernization, of the kitchen.”
- Bon Appétit (2015) Katie Parla includes the gnocchi in her roundup of the Top 9 Plates of Pasta in Rome, saying that Dardini’s “surpass all others in flavor and texture. He dresses them sparsely with a gently cooked fresh tomato sauce, strips of guanciale and Pecorino Romano.”
- Serious Eats (2014) Katie Parla advises that “Arcangelo’s greatest successes are when he keeps things simple. His potato gnocchi, which are dressed with a light tomato and guanciale (cured pork jowl) sauce, are the absolutely lightest in town, and his stewed tripe simmered with tomato and mint has few rivals, while his braised oxtail is enhanced with a dusting of cocoa.”
- An American in Rome (2014) loved her gnocchi and recommends ordering it here, with “the guanciale crisped, the pecorino liberally dusted, the gnocchi both fluffy and toothsome.” She found the rigatoni all’amatriciana a bit dry.
- Katie Parla (2010) says that “if you get the suppli’, cacio e unto and l’amatricana you won’t want to eat them anywhere else. I would encourage any visitor to Rome to order those dishes and I would discourage them from delving into other parts of the menu, simply because Arcangelo’s classic dishes of the cucina romana are that good.”
- Dissapore (2009) calls L’Arcangelo is a “safe place,” recommended for the classic dishes of Roman cooking.