I’m letting you in on a place that I consider one of the last great strongholds of true Roman cooking in the city. It’s not just my opinion, but the opinion of many of my Roman friends as well. This is a place where you can get very authentic Roman cooking but not spend a fortune, definitely a rarity.
I give you: Da Enzo, right around the corner from my apartments here in Trastevere. This photo shows the wall where the owner has hung a bunch of drawings by his daughter, and the kitchen on the right.
This place is literally a hole in the wall: I think there are about 10 tables inside. Hence, if you don’t make reservations, you’re probably not getting in. For dinner they run two turni—one at 8 pm and one at 10 pm. Service is usually quick, no-nonsense, efficient and the whole ambience is simply down home.
I’ll let you in on another little secret: as an appetizer (antipasto) you simply must order the carciofi alla giudia.
These are “Jewish style” fried artichokes (in ancient Rome, the majority of the neighborhood inhabitants were Jewish) and are a typical Roman dish that is becoming harder and harder to find these days. Lots of people will tell you to go to the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood to try them, at places like the overrated and overpriced Da Giggetto, but Da Enzo has them just as good and you’ll spend half the price for your meal, in a decidedly non-touristy environment.
For your pasta dishes, Enzo has a good selection of the basic Roman classics, like arrabbiata, amatriciana, and carbonara. I think one of their great selling points is that they know exactly how to cook pasta al dente, that Italian style of cooking the pasta so that it is firm to the bite.
See how there’s a white ring in the middle of the pasta when you bite it? That’s the part that remains uncooked and gives it that special al dente consistency that is the mark of a great Italian pasta dish. After getting used to this style of cooking pasta, it can be hard to go back to the squishier version we have in restaurants in the States, which Italians call scotta, overcooked.
Whenever we have visitors, this is one of the places we always try to take them. As the smile (and big bottle 'o house wine) will tell you, our most recent visitor and favorite houseguest Jessica definitely approved!
Via dei Vascellari 29 (Trastevere)
Tel. 06 581 83 55
Open for lunch and dinner, closed Sunday
Reservations highly recommended
Average cost for dinner: approx. €25-€30 per person (appetizer, pasta, dessert, house wine)