Cucina Romana is one of my favorite regional cuisines of Italy. When I'm in Rome, I look for no other type of food, well it and pizza al taglio. I do love the cuisine, some of those rough Romans can make it difficult for the straniera (foreigner). I'm certainly not the only one to say that Rome isn't always the friendliest to its visitors, especially when it comes to dining. Although I do speak Italian, albeit with an obvious foreign accent, and follow Italy's stringent dining & food rules, I have had my share of dining issues in Rome. My reservations have been "lost;" I've had double billings & other "errors" on my bill. One restaurant (Felice a Testaccio) wouldn't give me a reservation after several attempts that spanned weeks. I finally asked an Italian friend to make the reservations for me, and eccolo, a table was miraculously available.
Even though Trattoria Da Danilo came highly recommended by Katie Parla, (as in if you only had 4 meals to eat in Rome, eat there) it was still with much anxiety that I left a reservation request via voicemail. My fears of lost reservations and "not-so-special" service to foreigners disappeared as soon as we walked into the door. Two welcoming waiters with smiling faces led us to our table. Their kind and attentive service continued throughout our meal. Even with a full dining room, it seemed as if one, and sometimes both, of them was by our table waiting to answer a question, help with a wine suggestion, and even call a taxi for us at the end of the meal. Three fellow food lovers (Frank, Jessica & Larry) whom I had met earlier in the day on the Testaccio food walk joined me for one of most delicious and delightful dining experiences I've had in Rome.
A family-run trattoria outside of Rome's center. Danilo runs the front of the house, with his wife and two waiters, while his mother runs the kitchen. There are two dining areas, one on the main floor and one above. We ate on the main floor. The small rectangular dining room has a cozy feel, with red & white plaid tablecloths, wooden chairs, and photos, wine bottles and other knicknacks filling most of the wall space.
For me, the Spaghetti alla Carbonara was the star of our classic Roman meal, one that included other traditional dishes and house specialties.
For the first course, we shared three plates of pasta, two house specialties and one seasonal dish. The carbonara was divine, with guanciale (cured pork jowl) cubes, crisp outside and chewy inside, poking out of a mound of twirled spaghetti. The rendered guanciale fat gave the spaghetti a silky coating to hold onto the creamy and yolky sauce. The perfectly crisped slice of pancetta on top only heightened the dish's divine status.
The other two dishes were both good, but not standouts like the carbonara. The strozzapreti (priest stranglers) was toothsome in a tasty tomato sauce cooked with lard from Colonata and topped with pecorino di Fossa (a crumbly sharp goat cheese from Fossa). Being mushroom season, the tortellini with thinly sliced porcini and a brothy and earthy sauce nicely complimented the heavier pasta dishes. Their cacio e pepe is also a specialty. While we didn't order it, we saw the waiters serve it tableside, mixing the cheese with the pasta in a huge hollowed out round of pecorino. I made a note to self to order it on the next visit.
As we had just spent the afternoon in Testaccio, home to Rome's offal treats, it felt only right to order a few offal classics - Coda alla Vaccinara (Oxtail stew) and Trippa alla Romana (Tripe stewed in tomato sauce with mint). The coda was rich and tender. I loved the big saucepot they served it in and the soupy sauce. The tripe was tender and took on the flavor of the tomato sauce well. Julienned puntarelle (long cylindrical chicory) and anchovies were coated in a tangy dressing and livened up the hearty protein dishes.
The entire dining experience was a treat, both the meal and the staff, and I'm still dreaming of the carbonara.
Via Petrarca 13
Phone: +39 06 77 200 111