Though its restaurants are best known for their offal dishes, Testaccio has more to offer than just rigatoni alla pajata and trippa alla romana. Both are great (of course!), but a neighborhood cannot survive on niche cuisine alone…and look around! Testaccio isn’t the old school working class neighborhood your guidebook tells you about. I mean, there’s a Roadhouse Grill for god’s sake.
Indeed, the neighborhood has changed and so have the tastes of its residents. Testaccio is home to young professionals, well paid FAO employees, and families (to be fair, some of these have been in the ‘hood for generations). With its relative variety, Testaccio needs a place that does it all, and pretty well at that. That place is La Torricella. In addition to cooking the neighborhood classics, La Torricella makes pizza, steak and fish dishes.
The first time I visited, it was for a fish feast with my friends Petulia and Rob. The place is a favorite of Petu’s parents, die hard gastronomes and harsh critics. When they make a recommendation, we listen. We have been hooked ever since.
It’s not that La Torricella is perfect. On a recent visit, Mamma Parla and I were served an inedible frozen tartufo, which the owner bragged about before bringing the freezer burned nightmare to our table. Also, the wine is terrible. But there are far more hits than misses and the food is satisfying, simple, consistent, and accessibly priced.
I go for the seafood dishes like spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with cams), paccheri con seppie (tubular pasta with cuttlefish), spaghetti con la rana pescatrice (spaghetti with monkfish), tonnarelli ai frutti di mare (homemade pasta strands with seafood), sauté misto (clams and mussels in a white wine broth), and rombo con le patate (baked turbot with potatoes).
When I am in the mood for soup, I choose pasta e ceci (pasta with chickpeas) and pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans), members of the Roman culinary cannon, to warm me up. There are contorni (vegetable side dishes), which are served according to the season. This time of year, look out for puntarelle (chickory salad with anchovy sauce), cicoria ripassata (sauteed chickory), and carciofi alla romana (braised artichokes).
These and other dishes are dependable, moderately priced and vary depending on the season and availability of ingredients. La Torricella is popular with the testaccini, both new and native, so be sure to reserve in advance.
Via Evangelista Torricelli, 2/12
Tel: +39 065746311