We spent a very long morning exploring the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill (gosh, they’re big sites) but skipping the interior of the Colosseum; we’d see that on another trip, we reckoned. But it was near on 2pm and though we weren’t extremely hungry, our feet were starting to get sore and a sit down was much needed. The plan was originally to head to Trastevere and look for a restaurant there (I had a few on my list) but we ended up running into Giggetto after first going through the Portico D’Ottavia. The place was full and not only of tourists but locals too. And there was no waiter outside calling us inside – always a bad sign. This settled it – this was where we were going to have lunch and rest our feet. Only when I returned to London did I realise that An American in London had also made a visit here back in 2006 – her post was one I read a while back when I was planning for this trip. Oh, and hey! I just discovered that Londonelicious also went there earlier this year.
We started with a plate of their fried specialties, which they advertise with huge photos outside their restaurant. Don’t be put off by these – they fry things excellently and every table had a platter of some assortment or other. We shared another carciofo alla giudia, a filetto di baccalà (salted cod filet) and a fiori di zucchina ripieno (stuffed with mozzarella and an anchovy). That artichoke was even better than the one we had at La Matriciana, if that’s possible, and the courgette flower was absolutely gorgeous with its melty, chewy, cheesy filling with that anchovy saltiness. But the star of the plate was their filetto, the flaky, toothsome, salted cod sitting in perfectly crisp batter.
This time, we skipped the pasta course – I was a little pasta’ed out and one day without it would be ok, right? I opted for the Saltimbocca alla Romana, which arrived as three small veal escalopes with prosciutto and sage (the sage was sandwiched between the meats), all sitting in a thick white wine sauce. The veal was tender and as tasty as you can imagine though the ingredients are simple. The wine sauce was incredible and we sopped up every last bit with our bread.
Blai ordered the Trippa alla Romana – tender yet slightly chewy pieces of tripe in a tomato sauce with mint. I’d always found tripe to be a bit tasteless but this one had a slight …. tripey flavour? Not sure but the tomato sauce had certainly infused into the offal. And the mint intrigued us as we’d never heard of adding it to a tomato sauce before but hey, the Romans know what they’re doing.
We ended the meal with a tartufo nero for Blai and an espresso for me – I wasn’t taken by any of the desserts on offer. The tartufo was quite nice though – very rich and chocolatey gelato with a vanilla centre. The meal was a total of €50, making it not a budget meal but definitely one we thought was lovely. Some reviews online speak of terrible service but we didn’t encounter any problems.
Giggetto Al Portico D’Ottavia
Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 21
00186 Rome, Italy