Piazza Navona is probably the most magnificent piazza in the eternal city of Rome. It is quite romantic to sit in the piazza and look out on Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s Fontana del Quattro Fiumi. It is a gorgeous setting for a restaurant, but if you are in the eternal city do you really want to settle for less than average Italian cuisine? Unfortunately Piazza Navona, while beautiful, attracts tourists (and Romans alike) and that means that there are plenty of deceiving tourist traps. If you are in Italy why not opt for great cuisine and more of a traditional Italian feeling restaurant, located just a couple streets away from the hustle and bustle of the piazza. Down Vicolo Montevecchio is a little restaurant that is a diamond in the rough. One would never suspect that this street hides a restaurant that can fulfill the dreams of ones taste buds and stomachs, the only clue you have that there is a restaurant hidden away down this street is a small wooden sign that reads Osteria Del Pegno.
Osteria Del pegno is your traditional Roman restaurant; it takes pride in its food, it is small, and is filled with Romans. No matter what day or time of night you go the restaurant it is always packed and you have better made reservations the night before. If you come in with no reservations you might get lucky and get a table but most of the time you will be politely turned away. Osteria Del Pegno is a cozy restaurant that seats up to 40 people in a candle lit area. The restaurant is buzzing with boisterous Italians laughing and drinking merrily; the mix of families and friends eating together and couples enjoying a romantic dinner gives this place a peaceful and comforting atmosphere.
In my opinion though, the most important part of a restaurant is the food and the service and Osteria Del Pegno gets an A. One of the three people working the floor greets you with a very friendly attitude and asks you if you would like still or sparkling water. The service is quite fast and the smells from the kitchen keep your stomach in anticipation. For appetizers there are many options one may choose from. If you are a vegetarian then go with the sformatino di broccoli and for those who do not speak Italian it is a broccoli wrapped in sheet pastry. The lightness and the saltiness of the sheet pastry matches nicely with the sweetness of the cooked broccoli. It easily goes into the mouth and lights up your taste buds with great delicacy. This dish goes for 8,00 Euros. If broccoli is not your thing then definitely go with the Fonduta di patate, fiori di zucca, alici e mozzarella or for you english speakers zucchini flower, anchovies, potatoes, and mozzarella. This dish is not for people who want to eat light. It is heavy and rich in flavor but some how easily consumed. The way it is served is with simplicity. The potatoes are semi mashed with mozzarella running through to hold the anchovies and the zucchini flower all together with the potatoes; it’s shaped like a large medallion and is slightly crispy on the outside. This goes for 8,00 euros as well. For seafood lovers who want something light on the tongue try the polipo in guazzetto di agrumi or baby octopus with citrus fruit. The grapefruit is sliced into little wedges and surround the pieces of octopus that has been drizzled lightly with lemon. Take a piece of grapefruit and octopus and watch how your mind spins as the bitter sweet fruit goes with the tenderness of the octopus. This dish is a little more expensive going for 12 euros.
For the main course you have the option of a meat or pasta, or if you are hungry you can choose both. The best dish in my opinion is the maltagliati alla spigola e pachino or short homemade pasta with sea bass and cherry tomatoes. The dish hooks all of their customers, you take one bite of this and you will never be able to go to another restaurant. The sea bass is cut up into small chunks covering the freshly homemade pasta and the sauted bursting cherry tomatoes blanket the entire dish with their sweet juicy insides. The dish is quite big and can fill ones appetite quite quickly. This dish goes for 10,50 euros. If you’re not a person who likes meat but leans to the vegetarian side they have a perfect main dish for you. Ravioli ricotta spinaci fiori di zucca, zafferano e buccia di arancia, yes it is a mouth full but what you get for this mouth full is a delightful dish of Ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, with a saffron, zucchini flower and orange peel sauce. The dish is served with five rather large homemade ravioli. The saffron sauce lightly blankets these pillows filled with salty ricotta cheese and sweet spinach. The pasta seems to melt on the palate as the sweetness of the saffron sauce mixes with the saltiness of the cheese and combines to create a perfect harmony. This blissful dish goes for 10,50 euros as well. The last dish that is highly recommended especially for fish lovers is the filetto di spigoli in manto e pachino or in english fillet of seabass with oven baked potatoes and fresh tomatoes. The dish is one of the most expensive on the menu going for 16 euros but is worth that extra cash in your pocket. The thinly sliced potatoes guard the sea bass, which easily cuts under the pressure of a fork. The slight crunch of the potatoes as the fish melts in your mouth is very pleasing. The presentation is quite appetizing as you can see and smell the freshness of the food. The dish will satisfy any type of person’s appetite.
If I had to recommend anything else from this restaurant it would be the rabbit with a tomato sauce. The meat is tender, and the sauce is great, it is a perfect dish with a side of mash potatoes. They have a great wine list giving you a selection of reds and whites from across Italy’s wine regions. A good full body red wine that I recommend is the Monte Pulcino di Abruzzo for 32 euros. They also have a variety of salads that can take the place for your main dish if you would like. The desserts are all 5 euros and made fresh in the kitchen. The tiramisu is a classic and is always good. If you do not want to pay for a dessert you can just eat the complimentary dessert (ranging from little cookies to fresh clementines) and glass of limoncello that they serve. All their food is very fresh and their pasta and desserts are all homemade. Osteria del Pegno is a very peaceful atmosphere with a friendly staff. If you are looking for a nice night out with great food this is the place for you and you will be hard pressed to find another restaurant like it in Rome. Check out their website for more information and to make reservations as well! http://www.osteriadelpegno.it/
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