Garbatella, a tale of two eateries

IMG_6499To find out why Garbatella’s gorgeous garden zone is experiencing a revival, check out the ‘areas of Rome’ page. Off the tourist grid in Garbatella are two popular neighbourhood restaurants. They offer two different culinary experiences, both with elegant and authentic dishes for cheap. Get off the metro red line at ‘Garbatella’. Both hold equal appeal, we often play ‘pari e dispari’ (a weird ‘paper and scissors’) to choose.

I first went to Pot Pourri with my roman man and his friends. I was unsure about it, as the sign with twinkly lights leading you down steps inside said Arab and Roman food, a curious mix. In fact, both styles are honoured here. This place is great food, no messing about. And no need to book a table, these guys work fast for your table. Steps led us down to a little veranda covered with bamboo. The tables were strewn romantically with leaves that had fallen from trees above. There is a down to earth feel of busy waiters jovially bantering with customers.  I was advised to share a mix of traditional Arab and Roman treats, (just ask for menu if in doubt). It came with fresh warm pitta in minutes.  The seasoned green pancake falafel with crispy brown shell has changed me into a fan of the chickpea snack, dipped into an addictive hummus sauce. Next was the roman fried staples. Supplì is a real roman treat of rice with tomato sauce fried in crunchy breadcrumbs like a croquette with a drooling line of mozzarella in the middle. Fiori di zucca is a surprise favourite of mine. Mozzarella, seasoned with a nugget of salty melted anchovy is wrapped in a curious casing of zucchini flower, all oozing from crispy light batter. Deliciously decadent. Next I was pressed to try the Arab style ‘Cous cous con carne’ (cous cous with meat). This is like comforting meat stew with a base of tomato sauce and spices, with tender beef and veggies. One of our party got a scrumptious looking platter of Italian style fried mixed seafood. It is one of my favourite Italian meals and here the seafood was soft and fresh with a light crunch of batter, perfect with a drizzle of lemon.  It is the best  seafood away from the coast with a happy mound baby octopus, calamari and small local fish. A simple and cute pot of chocolate mousse topped with cream added dark sweetness while a good Amaro (after dinner sweet and bitter liqueur) finished our meal off. This place is all about good food and catching up. The price of €22 each for all this including wine wasn’t bad either. Via Roberto De Nobili, 8, Rome.

 

IMG_6501Next up is the equally uncomplicated, high quality local favourite Li Scalini De Marisa.  I was taken here by my roman man on a mission after I told him I had tried Italian ‘Trippa’ (tripe) before and wasn’t impressed. This restaurant boasts traditional roman food cooked with care and with fresh ingredients for low prices. Like a twin of Po Pourri with twinkly lights, it is tucked away from street level with a cute and covered veranda with a romantic feel. As one can imagine, traditional roman food was food for the poor, often meaning unsavoury cuts of meat that are now consumed with gusto and pride by locals. Trippa or tripe is a legendary dish of cow stomach lining cooked slowly in tomato based sauce. Its sinewy honeycomb appearance can put foreigners off. Cooked right as it is here, it is soft and yielding with the all-important tomato sauce seasoned beautifully, perfect with Italian chewy crunchy bread. My man had the ‘Rigatoni con la coda alla vaccinara’ (pasta with veal tail). This is similar to a thick meat stew, with succulent pieces of meat you can pull from the bone, and added flavouring from the marrow of the bone melted into the tomato and wine based sauce. The result is a slow cooked earthy flavouring. Both dishes are recommended for warming comfort food. Average price €25 incl. Via Roberto De Nobili, 17, Rome.

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