Ristorante 34

Tel: +39 06 679 5091
Address: Via Mario de Fiori, 34
Cuisine Type: Classic Italian
Closed: Monday
Tables outside? A few
Website: www.webeco.it/al34

Ristorante 34 is one of Rome’s famous, long established restaurants, and very impressive it is too. We visited on a night when the city was heaving with (happy) English rugby supporters fresh from their team’s victory at Stadio Flaminio, and many of them seemed to be eating here. The result was a restaurant packed to the seams, and yet service (and tempers) remained exemplary.

It’s not a place to go to if you’re figure conscious, however. Portions are generous and the food tends to veer between rich and very rich, but it’s worth it at least once in a while. You can always do penance on the seven hills later.

Antipasti and soups are relatively standard (€7.20 for Caprese to €11.40 for an interesting-sounding saute di frutti di mare). We chose to be awkward and went for a couple of dishes from the piatti di mezzo section (of which more later) which included fried fiori di zucca and radicchio at the bargain price of €1.30 each. Zucchini flowers are a staple, but we’d never sampled fried radicchio – it was a real treat.

The menu hots up with the pasta (€7 – €17). Here you are spoiled for choice, with some unusual and mouthwatering options. Being a huge fan of Italian broccoletti, which bears little resemblence to its southern cousin, the tasteless calabrese, I had to have orecchiette con broccoletti e salsiccia. Superb but very rich, as the sauce has to be butter-based. Spaghetti al pesto di Trapani was also excellent; farfalle al granchio (crab) e fiori di zucca and gnocchi di semolino alla romana Tartufati will have to wait for a return visit.

We were totally unable to do justice to the secondi (€9 – €20), but the fagottini di vitello ai ferri were superb (and, you guessed it, extremely rich). Three succulent rolls of tender veal with a delicious filling. There are animelle di abbacchio e carciofi saltata (lamb sweetbreads with artichokes) and tripa alla romana for those who like their offal, and a wide selection of fish dishes (including turbot with potatoes, cherry tomatoes and muchrooms – another one to try).

The piatti di mezzo called however – and what a great idea they are. Somewhere between a starter and a main course, we reckoned they wouldn’t be too heavy, and we were half right.Radicchio ai ferri con gorgonzola (€8.30) was fabulous and would have been almost slimming if it hadn’t been for the cheese… but it was heavenly. Misto di tortini (€10.40) consisted of three delicious portions of what were closer to sformati than tortini – one with fennel and cheese, one with artichokes, the third with zucchini, tomato and cheese. They weren’t huge portions but I still couldn’t finish them, good though they were.

After failing so lamentably to cope with a proper meal at 34 we shouldn’t have even tried pudding, but we did demolish a semifreddo di torroncino (nougat) with chocolate sauce (€4.50) between three of us – it really would have been rude not to.

There is a good and well-priced wine list – the house wine is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo at €10 per litre, and Prosecco di Conegliano is particularly good value at €12 a bottle. If you want to push the boat out there are pricy wines too, but you really don’t need to.

Ristorante 34 is a classic example of a real Italian restaurant – good food, good atmosphere and good value (especially this close to Via Condotti). They’ve been doing it for years, and it shows.