Rome is like any other big city (even if it’s not so big). Once you get settled into one neighborhood, it’s hard to get up the energy to move on to another area. During the day I’m usually here, in Monti, working away at my computer, and find I barely have time to have lunch in my own kitchen, much less wander across town. And at night? Then I get real lazy, and usually opt for something that involves minimal cross town movement.
But last week I managed to shed a bit of my lazy ways, and went to Pigneto to meet my friend Martha for lunch. Martha is a pioneer of sorts, since she’s been settled into this neighborhood long before it became so hip and trendy. (she did similar things in San Lorenzo and Tribeca in former lives, but those are other stories).
I’m so glad I went! Not only did I manage to visit Pigneto’s daily outdoor market (pretty great) but I also got to see Martha’s studio and home (pretty great too).
The highlight though, (well, duh) was food. We had lunch at Necci.
I’d been meaning to go here for ages, but….well, I’ve already gone into the why not.
Necci dates back to 1924, when it was opened by a southern Italian coming up to the big city to make a living. It soon became the hub of the neighborhood, and his sons eventually took the space over. It even had its moment of fame when Passolini shot parts of his film Accattone here in 1961.
Today the place is owned by chef Ben Hirst, an Englishman who has taken over the rambling space, and surrounding garden, and imbued it with a retro-1970’s look that is somehow both extremely cool and warmly inviting.
You could spend all day here. Really. Since food is served from 7am – 1am. Things start out at breakfast with pastries and coffee. Then lunch, aperitivi and dinner till late.
The menu is pretty much the idea of Roman cuisine, revisited by Ben. Although the day I was there, I went for a completely non-Italian sort of starter: foie gras. Two perfect slices of foie gras, served along side a salad of crispy greens with a mustard vinaigrette and a pile of stewed pears and raisins.
Martha ordered the fettucine con cozze e zucchini: hand made pasta with plump mussels studded with bright green zucchini and just enough tomatoes to bring it all together. I had the stuffed cuttlefish, cooked with a sweet and salty mixture of black gaeta olives and bright orange pumpkin.
We ended things on a sweet note, with upside down orange cake (I’m definitely trying this one at home) and a huge slice of their famous cheesecake.
I could have hung out all afternoon. It’s that kind of place. Wifi. A cat sleeping in the corner. Enough coffee and sweets to keep my going until cocktail time.
Necci dal 1924
Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68
Open 7 days a week, 8am-1am.