Trattoria Virginiae Rome

Tonight my only concern for eating out was that we wouldn’t have pizza. Reason being that after last night’s gorgeous stone baked pizza at Bir+Fud, anything else would just be sub-standard and disappointing. Well it seemed a likely theory.

The trattoria Virginiae was a spontaneous choice of restaurant – it didn’t look like a tourist-trap like those on the main piazzas, it was getting late (even by Rome’s late dining standards) and we wanted to eat *now!*, and there was space to sit outside. The waiter greeted us straight away even though he was running around like a headless chicken. So why not…


 
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Virginiae trattoria on Via di Parione


For starters we ordered a Virginiae sharing platter @ €8 (an assortment of hams, cheeses, olives and artichokes) and a bottle of chianti classico.


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Anti-pasti sharing platter


For primi platti, I had fettucine al funghi porcine @ €10.50 (pasta noodles, garlic, oil, mushrooms, parsley and hot pepper that gave it a wonderful kick!) and K had Tonnarelli cacio e pepe @ €9 (spaghetti pasta, ewe’s milk cheese and pepper).

Our waiter recommended a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan on the tonnarelli but not on the fettucine – the strong earthy mushroom flavours and hot chilli spice shouldn’t be overpowered by parmesan he said – they’re such lovely flavours in their own right. And he was right.

We were in raptures with this whole dining experience from the get-go.


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Fettucine Al Funghi Porcine


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Tonnarelli cacio e pepe – simple subtle flavours


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At Virginiae – thanks to the chef; light + bright inside Virginiae; Pecorino crisp wine


And then came the serious benchmarking test after all: pizza. For secundi piatti (I can’t help but love the Italian way of eating – so many courses! And when in Rome…) we shared a Capricciosa pizza @ €8 and an insalata mista @ €5, with a bottle of crisp Pecorino wine (slightly carbonated and refreshing).


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Capricciosa pizzabest pizza


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Pizza base – thin as a ring with mixed salad


With a crisp base as thin as a ring, this pizza was in a class of its own.

And so we were tempted into a final taste test: panna cotta. AT €5, the panna cotta itself was good but the ‘fruit’ sauce tasted as though it had been freshly squeezed from a bottle and slightly ruined it.


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Panna cotta


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Total bill €110 excl service – cash only as card terminal not working this eve


The verdict: A most pleasing discovery on our last evening in Rome, ending the culinary delights of this trip on a high note.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: Via di Parione, 41, 00186 Rome, Italy
~ Website + menus: Virginiae website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Virginiae
~ facebook page: Virginiae on fb
~ Location: Virginiae map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – typical Roman cuisine
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

Bir + Fud Rome

The theme for tonight’s eating and drinking was a blend of old and new (new Italian craft beers with traditional Italian food) and had already started at Open Baladin.

Moving on now to Bir + Fud – another mighty fine bar and restaurant serving many real ales and pizza freshly baked in a wood-fired oven – this was one hot, open-plan restaurant.


 
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From the front door, pass the long bar to enter this restaurant at the back (Bir + Fud image)


Heading passed the heaving bar area, we went through to the restaurant at the back admiring the simple but stylish interior that sees exposed brickwork contrasting with dark wood, and furnishings and signage designs in elegant browns and creams.


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Open plan kitchen + wood fired pizza oven


We ordered a couple of wheat beers while reading the menu, and settled on a Capricciosa @ €11 (tomato, mozzarella, artichoke, egg, basil, prosciutto san Daniele, olives plus extra mushrooms) and a Regina @ €12 (tomato, mozzarella cheese, basil, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan cheese).


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Capricciosa with extra mushrooms


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Regina pizza


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Local weiss beer + a Nora


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Two pizzas + four glasses of beer @ €50


Great pizza, great beer. Nice and simple.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Italian, pub, pizza
~ Address: Via Benedetta 23 – Roma, Italy
~ Website + menus: Bir + Fud website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Bir + Fud
~ facebook page: Bir + Fud on fb
~ Location: Bir + Fud map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – typical Roman cuisine
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

Open Baladin Rome

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100+ bottled beers, 40+ draft beers


Situated in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori district, Open Baladin is a real ale pub with a party atmosphere. And we arrived with a thirst, having walked a good few miles around Rome enjoying the sunshine today (from Piazza del Popolo, the Spanish Steps, around the Borghese Gardens and zoo, down to the Pantheon and on to Open Baladin on Via degli Specchi).

You can’t reserve a table here and when we turned up (about 7pm) all of the tables were taken. With some effort we managed to squeeze in to the row of tightly-packed high stools snuggling the bar, and climb on to the last two that were free. Some unavoidable leg entangling with strangers quickly led to beer related chit-chat with a neighbouring couple from California.

It’s an intimate, friendly place.


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A selection of today’s drink specials


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Popular bar, friendly staff


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Italian craft beers


Priced at 5 or 6 euros for a glass of beer, it’s not exactly cheap but the choice is vast. We tried a couple of light, hoppy craft beers and dark stouts along with a couple of traditional Italian pub snacks (we were classing that as our very late lunch!) – deep fried mashed potato balls in breadcrumbs and rolled in cheese and black pepper, apparently a local speciality, and a mozzarella and buffalo tomato snack.


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Deep fried mashed potato balls


As we didn’t want to eat a main course perched at the packed bar, and there was – by now – a queue for tables, we decided to explore elsewhere for dinner.

All in all: great bar with an excellent craft beer selection, and very friendly and helpful (if over-stretched) bar staff. Be prepared to wait for a seat (for drinks at the bar) and be prepared to wait a long while for a table if you want to dine here.

 

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Italian pub
~ Address: Via degli Specchi, 6, 00186 Roma, Italy
~ Website + menus: Baladin website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Open Baladin
~ facebook page: Birra Baladin on fb
~ Location: Open Baladin map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – typical Roman cuisine
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – Rome

Saturday night in Rome (2 of 2)

Following pre-dinner beers at no.au and a re-visit of the Pantheon (obligatory when in Rome), we stumbled upon Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio on Piazza dei Caprettari, nearby.


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Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio


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Outdoor dining


It looked appealing and cosy, serving typical Roman cuisine. It was this that attracted us rather than it’s grand, fourteen-syllabled name which doesn’t roll off the tongue so easily.

Greeted with welcoming Italian hospitality the moment we stepped around the hedge, we ordered a bottle of Elena Walch (EWA) vino bianco d’Italia (recommended as an aperitif or to accompany slightly spicy dishes owing to its dominant grape ie. 60% Gewürztraminer, 20% Muller Thurgau, 20% Chardonnay) which was very reasonably priced and turned out to be a really good wine.


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EWA vino bianco d’Italia


From the extensive menu, and with a little assistance from our jolly waiter, we ordered deep fried artichoke flowers (a Roman speciality) and octopus for starters.


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Deep fried artichoke flowers


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Cucina tipica Romana – octopus in a tomato sauce, artichoke tempura


For main course, K ordered porcini fettuccine while I had potato gnocchi seasoned with a tomato and basil sauce. Both were outstanding and full of fresh ingredients giving a surprising complement of flavours in each mouthful.


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Porcini fettuccine


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Fresh gnocchi


Although we were stuffed we were so enjoying this dining experience, that K ordered a strawberry pannacotta for dessert. It was outstanding, served in the juice of fresh strawberries (no fake flavoured sauce from a bottle here).


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Strawberry pannacotta


A serendipitous find, Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio has set a high benchmark for this holiday’s dining.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Roman, Italian (in Italy)
~ Address: Piazza dei Caprettari, 63, 00186 Roma, Italy
~ Website + menus: Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Ristorante Archimede S. Eustachio food
~ facebook page: On fb
~ Location: Ristorante Archimede S.Eustachio map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

No.au – Rome’s craft beer scene

Saturday night in Rome (1 of 2)

The current craft beer revival is more widespread than you might think. Rome’s craft beer scene is particularly vibrant and fast-growing, with over 100 breweries and several brewpubs.

And we intend to try as many local brews as we can during our short holiday here.


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Small bar at No.au


First on our hitlist was no.au (on fb, or see my no.au photos) where we stopped for pre-dinner beers served in nicely designed re(thinking)Ale glasses. Knowledgeable, friendly bar staff talked us through the local beers available (less than a handful) and while the restaurant looked appealing, it was small and full so we moved on to look for somewhere else to eat… (see post 2 of 2)


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Real ale at No.au (Naturale Organico Alimento Umano)


Restaurant/bar info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Address: Piazza di Montevecchio, 16a, Rome, Italy
~ Photos on flickr: my no.au photos
~ Location: No.au map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – typical Roman cuisine
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

Lunch at Rome Cavalieri

The five star Cavalieri Hotel is situated high above Rome, up the twisting Via Alberto Cadlolo, surrounded by 15 acres of Mediterranean parkland, and is part of Waldorf Astoria’s exclusive Hotels & Resorts.


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Poolside terrace and bar


Everything about this place is just stunning and the service is second to none. With several bars and restaurants offering a variety of food and drinks, we chose the pool terrace bar partly because it was scorching hot so we wanted to be outside and – to avoid getting burnt – we could take advantage of the parasols for shade.


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Wellbeing salad lunch at the Cavalieri


For a late brunch today – slightly suffering from the excesses of last night – we both chose the Insalata del Benessere (wellbeing salad) comprising corn salad, cabbage, lettuce hearts, fennel julienne, Taggia olives, orange and cheese @ 24 euros, along with fresh mixed breads and the inevitable oil and balsamic vinegar, and a pot of tea.


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Premium extra virgin olive oil + balsamic vinegar


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Leisurely lunch


A huge bowl of hearty goodness, the individual flavours within this salad were exquisite: subtle, creamy goats cheese, sparse but juicy orange segments, and a hint of aniseed from the fennel. Absolutely divine with fresh walnut bread and extra virgin olive oil and aceto balsamico di Modena.


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Cavalieri grounds


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Lawn sculptures – the lions are coming


It’s hard to believe that this tranquil oasis is only a short distance from Rome’s buzzing city centre. But it is. And it’s well worth a visit.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 5 / 5
~ Type: Italian
~ Address: Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101, 00136 Roma, Italy
~ Website + menus: Rome Cavalieri website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Rome Cavalieri food
~ Location: Rome Cavalieri map


RELATED LINKS
More Rome drinking + dining:
~ Bir + Fud – stone baked pizza + craft beers
~ No.au – real ale bar + restaurant
~ Open Baladin – 100+ craft beers
~ Ristorante Archimede Santa Eustachio – typical Roman cuisine
~ Roma Cavalieri – terrace dining in a Mediterranean oasis
~ Virginiae – cucina Romana *best pizza*



		

	

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen – Chicago

Brunch bliss in the form of a bacon burrito

My last morning in Chicago before heading over to O’Hare involved a last-minute shop along South State Street, where I passed Spang-lish Mex-i-can Kitchen.

Initially attracted by the restaurant’s name, then the menu options, and price, I ventured in. It was an easy place to go in and eat on my own – a simple diner where you order and pay at the till then wait (with enough interesting artwork to keep you occupied) until your food arrives.


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Art @ Spanglish – this piece is by Stefani Villanueva (seemingly a self-employed designer in the Chicago area but I can’t find your website. If you happen to see this post, contact me + I’ll link to your website here…)


I ordered a breakfast burrito @ $5.75 – a giant flour tortilla filled with a base of beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream – and opted for the bacon and egg variety, with a side of guacamole and tortilla chips @ $3.00.


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Breakfast burrito with guacamole + tortilla chips


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Bacon and egg burrito – packed with fresh ingredients


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Giant burrito – so stuffed it stands on its ownor is it a Spanglish work of art?


Including a bottle of water @ $1.10, my entire brunch meal came to $10.00 (about £6.50). Outstanding value without compromising on quality. Very pleasing.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Mexican, cheap-eats
~ Address: 555 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
~ Photos on flickr: images of Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ facebook page: Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on fb
~ Location: Spanglish map


RELATED LINKS
More Chicago dining:
~ Gilt Bar
~ The Gage tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Tesori


Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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