Via Gaetano Sacchi, Rome, January 25, 2013—
THE FIRST TIME we stayed a month in Rome we had an apartment on the Piazza Sant'Egidio in Trastevere. At the north end of the piazza was a nice little greengrocer shop. It's gone now. The second time we stayed, or maybe a little later, a new trattoria had opened next to it; two years ago it had become so successful it had taken over that entire end of the piazza, three adjacent storefronts.
The last time we ate there, a couple of years ago at least, I wasn't impressed. Since then it's not only grown bigger, it's grown much better. It's featured, for example, in Osterie d'Italia, one of the guidebooks I trust. So after a pleasant hour or so in the Botanical Garden a little north of here, just outside the old gate at the house of La Fornarina, we decided to stop in for midday dinner.
The Trattoria degli Amici is a special place, run by a nonprofit whose purpose it is to fold handicapped people into normal work and life. The trattoria is staffed by them and by volunteers who help things along. There are 130 covers now — I asked — and six people in the kitchen, two teams of three, for lunch and dinner, I suppose. Osterie promises that they use the best ingredients, and attend to traditional Roman cuisine, and today's dinner pretty well bore that out.
I opened with a trio of bruschetti, with oil and garlic, with tomato, with lardo; and a lagniappe, one with a soft cheese. Then we all shared deep-fried artichokes a spicchi, and I went on to the gnocchi you see here, nice little potato gnocchi dressed with walnut pesto and pine nuts and little bits of fried radicchio: superb.
Dessert: Crostatina di Ricotta e Cioccolata Amedei: a tartelette filled with superb ricotta and drizzled with fine dark chocolate. We may return.
Bianco della casa, Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio, Planeta (Sicily), 2011
•Trattoria Gli Amici, Piazza Sant'Egidio 6, Rome; +39 06 5806033