By the time our second evening in Rome rolled around, we’d realised that the area around Fontana di Trevi had an abundance of restaurants. The closer we got to the famed fountain, the more expensive they were, but we guessed that a recce in the vicinity would probably yield something affordable.
We weren’t mistaken- for we found, tucked away in a lane just short of the Trevi, a lovely little restaurant called Hostaria Romana. The Hostaria Romana was nothing short of serendipity- a chance glance towards the left, and there was a beckoning golden light streaming out of the windows, illuminating what looked to be a very contented crowd of diners. We went and checked out the menu (written up in English and Italian, and affixed to the outer wall of the restaurant). It sounded good- and not vastly exorbitant. So in we went.
The door opened into a place of bustle, merry chatter, the clatter of dishes, the swish of napkins flying as waiters scurried past. A narrow vestibule, about four feet in length, extended from the door, before spreading out on both sides into the restaurant. In front of us, a few steps led down into another space, equally jam-packed with diners. The walls in the lower room were covered with graffiti scribbled by appreciative patrons.
After a wait of about fifteen minutes, we were finally led to a table. Squeezing our way between the adjoining tables, we sat down, and were almost immediately handed our menus- by a greying and rotund waiter who sang as he worked. He took our order, repeated it back to us, served us, got us our bill- and uttered everything in a somewhat offkey, singsong voice.
But the food. Ah, the food. Tarun ordered a huge portion of roast suckling pig, deliciously crisp on the outside, and juicy. I decided to opt for a Roman specialty- osso buco. I’ve had osso buco before, but never so wonderful. The veal was exquisitely cooked: moist and tender, with the sauce, peas and mushrooms providing the perfect balance to the richness of the meat itself. Tarun’s order came with a side of roast potatoes and gravy; in addition, we got a bread basket full of fresh rolls. And- as if that wasn’t enough- we got starters, on the house. These consisted of crisp golden potato croquettes, and suppli- leftover risotto rolled around a cube of mozzarella and then fried, so the cheese melts into the most irresistibly chewy strands. Yum!
This being Italy (and we being addicted to wine!), we ordered a carafe of red wine to go with our meal. By the time we finished, we were so full, we had difficulty making our way to the door.
Final analysis: great place. Friendly, relaxed, affordable (we spent €34 for our feast), and the food- with lots of classic pasta dishes, seafood, and a range of meat and poultry- is awesome. And there’s live entertainment too- if the singing steward happens to be serving you.