I discovered the other day that I’ve put on 6 kilos since I started this blog (that’s just over 13 pounds for American readers). I generally keep away from the scales but things were starting to pinch (and by things, I don’t mean Italian men!) so I thought I’d better check it out. I weigh more than I ever have and even though I know that is bound to happen as the years pile on, I’m vain and not ready to give up my figure quite yet. So I started a diet and joined a gym. Let’s see how that goes. The diet at least did not start too well as I plowed my way through several mini-sandwiches the other night at the Auditorium where I attended my bi-monthly classical music concert/world’s most expensive nap.
All this by way of saying that I won’t be writing much about restaurants for a while and will concentrate more on history and culture and oddities and other stuff I really should have been writing about instead of just eating the whole time – for every restaurant I write about, I probably go to two or three.
But here’s one last review for the road: The Hosteria Amatriciana (which also goes by Hosteria Vino e Cucina) in Monteverde. But before I start: language lessons! A hosteria (or osteria) is the least formal among Italian restaurant classifications (the others being trattoria and ristorante, with ristorante being the fanciest). In ye olde times, a hosteria was an inn where weary travelers could stop off for the night and enjoy a cheap simple meal and some wine. These names mean less and less these days and the Hosteria Amatriciana is neither simple nor particularly cheap, although not particularly expensive either. I’d say it’s medium. Amatriciana is a super famous pasta sauce that dates back to the 18th Century and is made with tomatoes, guanciale (dried pig’s cheeks) and grated pecorino cheese. The sauce gets its name from the town of Amatrice in Central Italy, where it originated.
The Hosteria Amatriciana is tiny, with only about 10 small tables. The menu is hand written on a small blackboard; there are only a handful of courses listed and they change every day. The menu is based around traditional Roman dishes, which are harder and harder to find these days, although less so the famous pastas: carbonara, cacio e pepe and amatriciana. I’m not much of a pasta eater but I love cacio e pepe, which is made with Pecorino Romano cheese and crushed black pepercorns, so I went for that.
It was delish: creamy and peppery and extraordinarily comfort foody, which was nice on a rainy day. For some reason, I felt compelled to have a second course (such compulsions explain the six kilos) and I chose braised chicken, also very good.
For my veg, I had an artichoke, which I ate Roman-style, i.e. stuffed with herbs and cooked in olive oil and water.
To my mind, the carciofo alla Romana is not quite as scrumptious as the fried version but I’m never going to turn up my nose at an artichoke of any persuasion. I was on my own for lunch the day I went to the Hosteria Amatriciana so I can’t comment definitively on the other dishes on offer, but I did see some interesting things on the menu, such as eggplant rolls, octopus and a tiramisu with hazelnuts that looked amazing. Next time! I should note that the restaurant, in addition to being intimate, family owned and featuring only fresh seasonal ingredients, is the requisite 10 minute walk from my home. So there will definitely be a next time. My lunch cost about 20 Euros, including a big bottle of mineral water and a double espresso.
Over the weekend, one of Rome’s major newspapers did a survey of the best cacio e pepe restaurants in the city. I noted them all down carefully and intend to do something similar for a future blog. But not, perhaps, until I’ve knocked off those pesky 6 kilos. Off to the gym!Hosteria Amatriciana Via San Girolamo Emiliani 7/9, Rome