San Michele Restaurant, Trastevere (Roma)

San Michele Restaurant and Pizzeria on the road that runs along the Tiber River, on the Trastevere side, was another top recommendation.
Foto di San Michele, Roma
Questa foto di San Michele è offerta da TripAdvisor.

It was our last night in Rome for a while and both Zorba and I wanted to have a fantastic farewell meal.

The setting of San Michele is just beautiful. It is like a large private courtyard filled with jasmine, trees, potted plants, water feature and the odd sculpture.  The pretty little lights take away the darkness with a subtlety and a huge canvas market umbrella provides shelter for the middle few tables.  Short stout Italian men in black trousers, white shirts, vests and bow ties were scurrying around with haste to service the Italians dining in.  No stranieri or foreigners here, just well dressed Italians.

Antipasto was mozzarella di buffala, stuffed zucchini flowers with mozzarella and anchovies, and stuffed crumbed olives.  A trifecta of yum! The mozzarella had a very light outer with gorgeously soft silky almost sweet mozzarella centre.  Absolutely heavenly.  Zorba said it was the best mozzarella he has ever eaten – and that’s a big call because he eats it at every opportunity.

The delicate zucchini flowers were crispy, slightly salty from the anchovy and again, deliciously moorish.

Zucchini flowers and crumb stuffed olives

For main course, Zorba and I shared a 900 gram bistecca Fiorentina – or Florentine t-bone steak.  This is no ordinary steak. There is a special breed of beef that this meat comes from. It is cooked over coals, slightly charred on the outside and served rare to medium rare.  It is so succulent and tender that the meat just melts as soon as it hits your tongue. I was in food heaven.

Fiorentina

It was also really great to eat meat again after all the unintentional Italian carb loading we have been doing. Although it was not so great when Zorba picked up the bone and started gnawing on it to ensure that he had eaten every last scrap of meat! I was mortified! No no no no NO! As much as I secretly love to do that also, not in public and certainly not in a nice restaurant! Thankfully, no one seemed to bat an eyelid – after all, we are in Italy and Italians really do appreciate good food.

For dessert we shared a chocolate gelato.  Always a winner.

Naturally, we had to digest and luckily we had the help of a couple of Amaro liqueurs that were served in a glass half-filled with frozen water, which when it melted slightly, turned into huge ice cube. It was pretty cool actually.

Thanks to my my Aussie friend Cat who has been living in Rome for six years for this fab recommendation.

This wins meal of the trip so far. Ten out of Ten.

FACT FILE

San Michele
Lungotevere Ripa, 7, Roma 00153 (zona Trastevere)
Tel +39 06 584 826

The secret restaurant with no name, Rome

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

FACT FILE

Da i 2 Ciccioni
Vicolo del Cedro, 8, Trastevere
Tel +39 06 5812 652