Hostaria da Nerone

Tel: +39 06 474 5207
Address: Via delle Terme di Tito, 96 Roma
Closed: Sundays and August

When we first found the Hostaria da Nerone, just up from the astonishing (and astonishingly touristy) Colosseum, it was a tiny, friendly restaurant presided over by the dapper black-suited Eugenio and frequented by a mixture of locals and foreigners. There were a few tables outside in good weather and the food was good.

We’ve been visiting at intervals ever since, and nothing has changed – except, perhaps, that the food has got even better, with some really good Roman specialities such as cazzimperio – raw fennel served with a dipping sauce of oil, parsley and black pepper and a hint of (possibly) pecorino cheese.

Antipasti (€ 5 – € 7) include the above mentioned cazzimperio, a seriously good frittata di carciofi (think of a perfectly made omelette and then add slivers of fresh artichoke hearts) and a huge selection of grilled vegetables from a display that makes you hungry just to look at it.

Among the pasta dishes (€ 6.50 – € 7) are more Roman specialities, including rigatoni con pajata di agnello. Not for the faint-hearted, as pajata are intestines, but if you can get over the thought they are excellent (and rich).

Main courses are a snip at around € 8, the only exceptions being beef fillet and lamb at € 13, which is still pretty good value. Saltimbocca alla Romana (thinly sliced veal with ham and sage) are excellent, as is the fegato alla Veneta (liver served with onions, Venetian style).Picattina di vitella was melt-in-the-mouth slices of veal in a lemon sauce, and I am told thefritto di cervello e zucchine (brains) were also excellent… oxtail and tripe, two other traditional Roman dishes, are also available for those that like their offal. The fish choice is narrower but includes rombo alla griglia – turbot – at € 13.

Puddings (€ 4.50) are mostly home-made – the torta di ricotta is creamy and tasty, fragole all’aceto (strawberries in balsamic vinegar) are wonderful, and the fresh fruit at € 2.50 really is fresh. On our visit it was either pineapple or strawberries, and the former came as two vast slices carved off the pineapple in front of our eyes.

Nerone is a treasure. This time we were a group of seven, which fazed our bustling waiter Theo not a whit. Unfailingly courteous and helpful, he managed to pull off the trick of serving every course promptly while never seeming to rush our meal. House wine is soft and delicious and costs double nothing.

Booking essential.