Trastevere is a charmingly picturesque area in Rome to the west of the river Tiber but still easily accessible from the city centre by foot. I was keen to try a restaurant there; when we were there at the beginning of the month, there were very few tourists around and Trastevere felt like “old” Rome. Dan from Essex Eating recommended a couple trattorias in the area and that’s how we found ourselves at Da Augusto one lunchtime.
The trattoria was a little tricky to find. When you get to Piazza de’ Renzi, there’s one clearly marked restaurant…that wasn’t Da Augusto. There’s no sign for the trattoria but there is a menu posted up – and this was the only hint of the restaurant (except for when it’s packed, of course, with tables spilling into the square). The photo below is what the place looked like when we left.
The menus are handwritten and are in Italian on one side and English on the other, the only hint that tourists do find this trattoria. When we were there, we were the only tourists – the rest of the tables were full of Roman families, single businessmen, couples meeting for lunch. We weren’t any less welcome though; our waiter was very keen to practice his English on us. There’s loads of character to this trattoria: it’s rammed with chattering Italians, the plain wooden tables are packed close together and are topped with just a large piece of paper, and it’s clearly a family run place and I love it more for that. From this environment, we expected a home style lunch and we were not disappointed.
Ravioli was available the day we were there and we opted to split a dish of it to start. There was no indication of what the ravioli filling would be but it turned out to be ricotta and spinach between delicious thick homemade pasta sheets. We were given the option of meat sauce or tomato and basil with our ricotta and we chose the former. What came out was a tomato sauce and we found a telltale shred of tripe within it – I think this was the sauce from trippa alla romana! Waste not, want not. Fresh and delicious and a big portion too – six huge ravioli.
We split two second courses. The first was agnello alla cacciatora, lamb cooked with white wine, garlic, rosemary and anchovies too, I think. The meat was falling off the bone and the simple ingredients complemented that characteristic lamb flavour. Every bit of the sauce was sopped up with bread.
Our second second course was straccetti con rucola, strips of beef with rocket leaves. Though plainly cooked, the beef was thin and tender and obviously of good quality and the rocket leaves added a peppery contrast to the robust meat. Again, we inhaled this.
I couldn’t turn down dessert, not when they’re listed on the menu as “Dolci di Nonna Leda“. Oh yes, grandmother Leda was in charge! (And did I see her in the kitchen? There was a nonna in there…) A torta con pinoli to split again, please. It was a slice of sponge cake with thick pastry cream on top with a good layer of untoasted pine nuts. The Romans love their pine nuts but we were surprised to see most of them untoasted in desserts. But this untoastedness worked well with our light cake and cream – toasting would have made the pinenuts overwhelming.
We wondered why it took a while for our bill to come; it was because we actually needed some time from a waiter or waitress to recollect what we ate and to calculate our total bill on our paper tablecloth. We left after paying about €30, certainly good value eating. The place was absolutely rammed by the time we left so get there early!
Piazza de’ Renzi, 15
00153 Rome, Italy