My lovely girlfriend Cat who lives in Rome was given a restaurant recommendation by a local who lives in Trastevere, a lively night-time neighbourhood just over the Tiber river. “This restaurant has no name, no menu, is kind of illegal and it’s really hard to find, but it is supposed to be really good,” Cat said with enthusiasm. Zorba loved the sound of that, and so it was decided.
As it turns out, the restaurant does have a name, Da i 2 Ciccioni, or the Two Fat Guys, is in a non-touristy street tucked towards the back of Trastevere. It is kind of illegal because there is no license…oh well! You could be visiting someone’s house really, hence the lack of menu. This is a hole in the wall kind of restaurant. There are just five tables and the walls are decorated with press cuttings from Australia, Brasil, Spain, New York and London that all said it was like having dinner at your Nonna’s. They were right.
Gianni, the owner, doesn’t speak a word of English and greeted us with a short sharp smile underneath his black moustache. “Cosa volate bere, rosso o biancho?” Our choice of drinks to have with dinner was simply red or white. Red please! The house red wine came in unlabelled bottles, poured into little cordial glasses and very quaffable making it easy to drink. No sparkling mineral water was available, just still tap water.
Dishes were plonked on the vinyl table coverings one after the other, with Gianni checking on us during each course to make sure everything was ‘buono’. His wife / friend / partner – not really sure who she was, kind of helped clear plates whilst balancing a cigarette from her mouth. I estimated that she smoked about a cigarette every eight minutes. It was non-stop.
Antipasto consisted of tomato brushetta with those beautiful tasty ripe red tomatoes Italy is famous for, a really delicious bean concoction in a sauce, and mash potato with tomato and a hint of chilli – nothing I’ve ever seen on an Italian menu before. Not that we had a menu, but you know what I mean.
Primi was a choice – pasta with carbonara or amatricana or with cream and pepper. Cat chose cream and pepper – the meat free option, whilst Zorba and I thoroughly and utterly enjoyed our Roman carbonara. Our bottle of red was finished (by Zorba and I – Cat doesn’t really drink) and without question or request, another bottle of red was opened and plonked on the table.
For secondi, we also had a choice, calamari with peas or chicken. Cat and Zorba chose the calamari and I had the chicken which was succulent, juicy and so tasty with just a hint of rosemary. The calamari was very flavoursome – a little bit too hot for my weak-chilli palate, but Cat said she was in ‘food heaven!’
My poor stomach was stretching, so full.
Gianni must have sensed how stuffed we were because he plonked on the table three little plastic cups and a bottle of limoncello and a bottle of grappa, to help us digest of course. The limoncello was so smooth – we all enjoyed several servings of that. I was the only brave one to try the grappa, which was like paint stripper, but nonetheless it made me feel like I was digesting – haha! Oh, we also received some home made biscotti which tasted like Arnotts teddy bear biscuits – nice!
After an hour or so, it was time to go. Gianni said that the bill was 25 euro each. Is that all? Less than A$30 each? For all that food, and moreover, all that limoncello? We paid cash, of course, and waddled out of there amazed at the experience we had just had.
This is one Roman food experience worth seeking out.
Lastly a big shout out to Zorba or always helping me and reminding me to take photos for my blog x
Da i 2 Ciccioni
Vicolo del Cedro, 8, Trastevere
Tel +39 06 5812 652