La Focaccia

La FocacciaTel: +39 06 6880 3312
Address: Via della Pace, 11
Cuisine Type: Roman
Closed: –
Tables outside? Yes
Website La Focaccia

The church of Santa Maria della Pace became very popular after Pope Alexander VII commissioned Pietro da Cortona to restore it in 1656. For a long time it was the only church in Rome that offered Mass in the afternoon on a regular basis. To facilitate the attendance of the Roman aristocracy, Pietro tore down the dwelling houses immediately in front of the church to make a small piazza – big enough to turn around a horse-drawn coach – and he created in the façade one of the great Baroque theatrical masterpieces.

After admiring this wonderful work, turn to your left and ask Massimo or one of his minions (two delightful young chaps, Daniele and Danilo) for a table in his excellent pizzeria/ristorante specialising in Roman cuisine: In fair weather you can dine in sight of Pietro’s exquisite work; at other times retreat to the capacious downstairs dining room.

The menu is genuinely Roman, without being themed. For example, you can get olive ascolane or suppli and other delicacies associated with Rome. There are many more substantial dishes as well as a broad range of pizzas. Of particular merit is the selection of bruschetti (€5 or under), those with caciotta al peperoncino e pomodori secchi, caprino e pepperoni, and salmone, patate e stracchino being especially worth a try.

Fresh pasta (€8) is available with a number of sauces – try the Tagliolini al limone for something light (but filling) or the heavier but delicious Lasagnette verdi gratinate con ricotta di bufala e basilico. There is also a selection of wholegrain pasta dishes. The secondi range €8 – 12. The present reviewers, despite a return visit, never reached the dolci, alas. The house wine is local and good – the white especially – and cheap.

There is a daily menu (from which you might have selected – for example – orecchiette con pajata); there are also a number of different versions of the main menu – they do not differ greatly, but if the tagliolini al limone is not on your menu, look at somebody else’s or ask for a second copy. The limoncello is first-rate. But perhaps the most appealing characteristic of this ristorante – aside from its dramatic location – is its friendliness, from management to waiter.