Thursday, November 5, 2009
When it comes to writing about restaurants in Rome, there is usually not much to report that is 'newsy.' When Food & Wine asks for my help with new openings for their yearly Go List, I'm always happy to oblige. Yet every year I have to explain that nothing new ever happens in this ancient city. This year I was proven wrong. In the 4-month time lag between turning in my copy to F&W, and the material appearing online, half the restaurants have closed! Sign of the times? Perhaps. But not all news is bad news. Here's the recent scoop:
Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
Via Madonna dei Monti
Last month my favorite restaurant in Rome closed their doors. After a brief panic, Alessio the chef/owner managed to calm me down by showing me his brand new local, just a few doors down from the old place. After deciding not to pay an increased rent where he was, he has bought the new space, which is not only bigger, but has ancient beamed ceilings as well as a wine cellar. Although we are all going through Taverna-withdrawl, Alessio promises to re-open by mid-December.
Via Urbana 104
I really liked this place, and am sad to see it close. It always seemed full, so not sure what happened. In any case, it has been bought by new owners and is now called Monti & Puglia and features organic, vegetarian dishes from Puglia. Sounds like a good idea to me, and I'll report back once I've had a chance to try it.
La Vecchia Bottega del Vino
Via Santa Maria del Pianto 9a
Thjs one is the saddest story, but may have a happy ending. Anacleto Bleve and his wife, Tina, opened this enoteca in Rome’s Jewish ghetto 20 years ago, before expanding to the grander Casa Bleve near Piazza Navona. Their nephews Gino and Antonio Nutricato took it over a couple of years ago, providing the same warm service, fair prices and always-excellent food that have made the place such a local favorite. In fact, it was Gino and Antonio's warm welcome that made this many Roman's favorite lunch place. I'm not sure of the real story - but Anacleto has taken charge again, and Gino and Antonio are no longer part of the Bottega. They will be sorely missed.
Anacleto's newly re-vamped recipe for the place involves bringing in the cheese master from Bric to transform the Bottega into a one of Rome's best sources for formaggio. Due to open next week, I"m keeping my fingers crossed.