There is not a great deal of difference between an osteria and a restaurant except that you’ll find many osteria have longer histories and hence are found in characteristic buildings. For this reason an osteria’s name often carries the same name as the road in which it is found like Osteria la Gensola on via della Gensola. Osteria, which best translates as “inn” or “tavern”, are a great price/quality mix. Slow Food publishes a guide called “Osteria d’Italia”, which is well worth a peak at when looking for a creative Italian eating experience. Newer, classy restaurants have funky names like “Primo” (First Course) or “Gusto” (Taste).
By law, if any eatery has used a principal ingredient that was frozen, it must be indicated on the menu. Look for an asterisk and the term “sugelato” at the bottom in small print. The best eateries never work with frozen ingredients and when something such as porcini mushrooms are not in season, the dish is off the menu, unless they have been sourced from outside Italy. Watch out for the use of cream (“crema di…”) as it is far too frequently used to “allungare” (elongate) expensive ingredients like truffles.
Area: Piazza della Gensola, 15 (Trastevere)
Tel: +39065816312 • www.osterialagensola.it
Tip: If you eat most things just choose meat or fish and let the waiter do the rest. Make sure you book the Gensola is popular with locals.
Area: Via di San Vito, 13 (Monti)
Tip: “No matter where on the menu you stray, it’s hard to go wrong.” (New York Times)
Area: Piazza Trilusso, 41 (Trastevere)
Tel: +39065803769 • www.enotecaferrara.it
Tip: Ferrara has one of the best wine cellars in town. Try several wines by the glass as you proceed through your courses.
Area: Via del Pigneto, 46 (Pigneto)
Tel: +39067013827 • www.primoalpigneto.it
Tip: Even if Pigneto is super trendy now, it was a hive of extreme left wing activity in the 70’s. So if you read the Guardian, understand food and have a few quid, you’ll love this place.
Presentation and atmosphere are cultivated and you don’t need be an expert to know you are being served mouth-watering cuisine. Have a look at our recipe films to get a better idea. Popularity demands that you make a booking. Most places don’t require you to leave your credit card details but you’ll only not turn up once. An evening meal will cost you 50-100 Euro per person plus wine. If you go out of the centre it is cheaper. Strike up a rapport with the waiter and if it feels right, say “meat” or “fish” and he’ll do the rest.