In life as in eating. timing is everything. So it was that on my last days in Rome with so many restaurants yet to visit, I had no choice but to double up on big meals, both pranzo (lunch) and cena (dinner). One day in particular, I hit the big gustatory jackpot: two spectacular feasts.
Augustarello had been on my must-go-to list for several years, and this trattoria in the Testaccio area did not disappoint. From the owner himself, the son of the original Augusto and the embodiment of the seemingly gruff, but, under the barely scratched surface, warm and welcoming Roman nature, to the hearty dishes which for about 150 years have defined the Eternal City’s cucina povera, the food of the poor. Pictured here is just one-sixth of my mega-lunch: borlotti beans, sausage, and cotiche (similar to pork rinds) in a creamy slightly tomatoey sauce.
Dinner was at another Roman institution, but a bit more upscale. La Gensola, poised between the trattoria and restaurant category in Trastevere, is owned and run with passion and a palpable sense of humor (the large glass doors were replaced in the main room during
prime dinner hours with a smile and an apologetic shrug) by husband and wife, Claudio and Irene. Who cares about chaos when you’re being served an insalata of seppia (cuttlefish) with bruschetta points rubbed with olive oil and pancetta (pictured) and tagliolini with tartufi neri (black truffles).