Da Gildo

Tel: +39 06 5800 733
Address: Via della Scala, 31/a
Cuisine Type: Classic Roman
Closed: Thursdays
Tables Outside? Yes
Website: www.dagildoatrastevere.it

Da Gildo is the type of restaurant that, once again, makes you ask yourself why you don’t live in Rome. Situated in Trastevere not far from the Ponte Sisto, just across from the Porta Settimiana, it’s friendly, it’s fun, it’s unpretentious and the food is out of this world. And it’s spectacular value for money. A memorable meal for three adults and a child, including more fresh truffles than I’ve ever seen in one place and copious amounts of a soft house Merlot / cabernet franc house wine, cost less than £50.

The menu is small and seasonal, the dishes simple but perfectly prepared. Zuppa di carciofi was crammed with tender artichokes, while those in a warm carciofi salad were just cooked, perfectly tender and served with shavings of Parmesan. Olive ascolane were served with white wine vinegar, which brought out the flavour. Spaghetti caccia e pepe was prepared at the table: a plate of perfectly cooked spaghetti was produced, followed by a swirl of first quality olive oil, generous amounts of freshly grated caccia (a sharp-flavoured local cheese) and pepper to taste. I had the same dish the day before at a perfectly good restaurant, but there was no comparison between the two – this was superb.

To follow, there was an extraordinary plate of fungi porcini which although previously frozen, and the waiter alerted us to the fact, were some of the best I have tasted. It just goes to show that yet again, when it comes to food, the Italians know exactly what they’re doing. The triumph of the meal, however, was the plate of eggs with white truffles. Two plain fried eggs, cooked just right, dotted with large slivers of truffle. The smell, of course, filled the restaurant, and I was in heaven.

No room for dolci, alas, which I suspect would also be wonderful: the impression given at Da Gildo is that whatever you order, or ask for even if it isn’t on the menu, will be prepared with care and will be delicious. We did manage a plate of cheese – peccorino, Gorgonzola, scamorza and others we loved but couldn’t identify came served with a small dish of excellent honey. This is a normal practice in Rome, though rarely found in restaurants, and it’s a great way to end the meal.

Da Gildo rapidly goes on my list of favourite restaurants. It’s tiny, and not surprisingly popular, so booking is advisable.

Editor’s note: This review was first published in 2002. I have been revisiting this restaurant regularly since this review was written, and apart from the prices having risen as one would expect, it remains an accurate picture of what you’ll find at Da Gildo. HJW