Fine dining in Trastevere, Rome

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I’m not the type of person who counts Michelin stars but I do think the Michelin guide is a good guide to use and I often check out restaurants mentioned in it when I’m going travelling, especially when I want to go to a more up-scale restaurant. I did my research before Rome as well and the Michelin star restaurant I was most excited to try, Glass, was fully booked the one night I had in the city. Luckily my next choice,  Antico Arco in Trastevere had availability.

Despite having dinner here on my own on a Saturday night, I had a fabulous meal and really enjoyed the food, the ambiance and the service. I actually think I got the most attention from the staff, checking I was enjoying myself as often as they could.

My lovely meal started with an amuse bouche (pictured above) of crispy mackerel, courgette and a very light orange sauce. So delicious!

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My choice of starter was a porcini mushroom mousse with yoghurt, poached egg yolk and blac truffle. So very good!

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Next up was a pasta dish; ravioli with sea bass with a seafood bisque. The pasta itself was amazingly thin and delicious, the bisque nice and pungent and the seabass nice and soft, but it wasn’t really what I had expected texture wise.

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For my maincourse I was choosing between three meat dishes and since one of the waiters recommended the steak tartare I went for that. It was the most decadent steak tartare I’ve ever seen; a ginormous portion of perfectly seasoned raw steak, topped with raw porcini mushrooms, black truffle and generous shavings of foie gras. It was delicious and very rich, and having had two courses already there was no way I would get close to even finish it.

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I was so full after my lovely meal I declined pudding (no room) but the waiters still brough me a mini dessert of decaf tiramisu. It was heavenly but I couldn’t even finish that tiny portion. Instead I had a tea and a breather, and looking around the fellow guests I was wondering how they manage to finish their portions. I mean, to me, Roman portions were American sized.

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Turns out they order differently to me. A couple near me had several mini plates of soup and pasta before having a main course each. I guess I’m too polite to even consider asking for tasting portions in a nice restaurant, but the next day I did so at lunch. And it turns out even a half portion of pasta is large, but at least I could finish it!

Antico Arco, Piazzale Aurelio, 7, 00152 Roma, Italy

A Roman holiday

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A few weekends ago I went to Rome for the first time and loved every second of it (apart from almost not finding a taxi late at night in the rain when I arrived, but I got there in the end).

Arriving to the hotel I went straight to bed and feel asleep to raindrops hitting the courtyard outside my room. Very soothing. Waking up to a beautiful day I had breakfast at the hotel (just before they stop serving it, that’s usually how I roll) and then walked along the Tiber to my first stop of the day; the frescos by Raphael and his contemporaries at Villa Farnesina. They were just amazing and a great start to my day.

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I then crossed the Tiber to go back into the centre of Rome, via the little market on Campo de Fiori, that turned out to be a lot more touristy than expected, but the greengrocers still carried magnificent produce and I so wanted to buy large fresh porcini mushrooms and courgette flowers but as I didn’t have time to go back to the hotel before continuing my day I thought I could make my purchases the next day. Unfortunately I couldn’t, as all the best greengrocers seem to take Sundays off.

I then made a quick stop at the Pantheon as my lunch reservation was nearby.

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After a fab lunch (review to follow) I walked back across the Tiber to visit the Vatican museum, where I had bought my ticket in advance, which I recommend anyone visiting Rome to do too. There is so much to see in the eternal city, queueing just feels like a waste of time.

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Apart from the fact that you sometimes felt like a sheep ushered by a shepherd, I enjoyed the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel a lot.

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Some things were pretty spectacular, like the exit (above).

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Walking past St Peter’s Basilica I decided to join the (massive queue) and at least see if it was moving. Luckily it was, and as it’s free to go in you can’t book in advance. And it certainly was magnificent and absolutely worth a bit of a wait. The time didn’t feel wasted at all as I got to see the sun setting over the basilica and could take some nice photos in the twilight.

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After a walk back to the hotel my feet were pretty sore (I walked 25 kilometres that day) and I decided to take a taxi to Antico Arco (review to follow) where I was having dinner.

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The next day after breakfast I went to the Colosseum, again with a pre-booked ticket, and although heaving with people it was a lovely sight so see.

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Afterwards I went to Foro Romano nearby, using the same ticket, and it was as wonderful to see.

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Next on the list was Crypta Balbi and then lunch.

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My last stop was Crypta dei cappuccini, a crypt for the Capuchin monks decorate with skulls and skeleton parts. It sounds macabre but I didn’t think it was; just very different and beautiful in a strange way.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and pick up my bags and head to the airport. What a wonderful weekend.

PS. Sorry for the heading; couldn’t help myself.