/Tragedy in Testaccio: Roadhouse Grill Opens in the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

Tragedy in Testaccio: Roadhouse Grill Opens in the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

Few things have the power to stop me in my tracks these days and today I encountered one of them: a chain restaurant in Testaccio. As it is, Chicken Hut, Burger King, Spizzico, and McDonald’s are all over Rome. Even Subway is cropping up here and there. As vile as the growth of fast food chains are, there is something particularly unsettling about an American-style chain steakhouse opening just steps from the old slaughterhouse and Monte Testaccio archeological site, places that were instrumental in the sacred food history of the city.

The place in question, Roadhouse Grill, sits right on via Galvani, occupying several storefronts in the Nuovo Mercato Testaccio, the new Testaccio Market. While the butchers, fish mongers and produce stalls are still being completed, the Roadhouse Grill is open for business. Disgusting doesn’t cover it.

2017-02-17T15:25:11+00:00 September 27th, 2011|Categories: Culture, Meat, Rome & Lazio|22 Comments


  1. KF September 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Is it a franchise? I wonder that the relationship between the American college-style bars and clubs (like On the Rox, Coyote, etc) across the street have to do with it. Someone’s market research is way off.

  2. Jeremy Parzen September 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    “Disgusting doesn’t cover it!” I remember when the McDonald’s opened at the Spanish Steps… it was the beginning of the end…

  3. Mamma Parla September 27, 2011 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Disgraceful, irreverant and disrespectful.

  4. shayma September 27, 2011 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    awful. this is the same sort of thing that makes my skin crawl when in Paris- those Hippopotamus chains. sad sad sad. x shayma

  5. marjorie Shaw September 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    There would be a particular power to a concerted protest — in one form or the other or both — on the part of those North Americans who find this development repellant.

    Roadhouse Grill : http://www.allbusiness.com/food-beverage/restaurants-food-service-restaurants-full/6544953-1.html

  6. adrian reynolds September 27, 2011 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Would you say these fast food outlets reflect Romans’ changing eating habits or are the outlets creating the change of habits…or have the habits really changed and this is not a big deal? I mean, Rome can’t be frozen in amber/cacio e pepe for all time. I’ve noticed more bio/km0 type stores (as per your chronicling), Grom (a chain but one who does the right thing with its Slow Food alliance). So if there’s fast food or American style steakhouses, what’s the big deal? Mom and pop may not be able to afford the rent in a new development. You’ll always have a Volpetti.

  7. Engin September 27, 2011 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    repulsive.. even it’s logo is naff.. hope this one gets closed soon and the ignorant, taste-bud-free customers (who are faint-hearted – or shall i say steak-headed – for the marvellous italian cuisine) stay at their home and dig their beaks into frozen foods forever.

    mind the parla:

  8. Sue September 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    In Ogunquit Maine they don’t allow any fast foods or chains-if you want it you have to drive out by the highway. Let Italy put it next to the Auto Grill

  9. mart September 28, 2011 at 12:12 am - Reply

    they get what they deserve? Funny lot of those places pop up at the ‘must see’ locations. Guys no worries it is for tourist, only 10% of the people have proper taste, it is all very elitarian , not egaliterian. But on to more interesting stuff, Jeremy if you ever (in due time) are to visit Umbria, Calcabrina might interest you,just don’t pour it to the 90%…….

  10. Sarah May September 28, 2011 at 1:19 am - Reply

    UGH! This just hurts my eyes!

  11. Carol Malzone September 27, 2011 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Worse would be Olive Garden. As it is, let’s hope it goes the way of Dunkin’ Donuts.

  12. Kenny September 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I just saw it last night and I was just filled with anger. I saw the cow-designed wall paper on the walls over the last several weeks so i naively thought that it was some sort of permanent exhibit commemorating the Matttoio (slaughterhouse) across the street. I couldn’t believe it was a damn Roadhouse restaurant.

    McDonalds opening across from the Spanish Steps was the impetus for the Slow Foods movement so maybe this latest atrocity will give birth to something great. Maybe we should set-up a barbeque outside and give out free steaks.

  13. Erica September 29, 2011 at 9:23 am - Reply

    One word: Subway

  14. nyc/caribbean ragazza September 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    What the hell is Roadhouse Grill? Why that neighborhood? If it was on Via del Corso, who cares, but in Testaccio? WTF?

    Testaccio doesn’t need any chains.

  15. nyc/caribbean ragazza September 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Oh dear god, I just read about this place:

    Roadhouse Grill restaurants are located in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee. 35 of the Company-owned restaurants are located in Florida. Three franchised Roadhouse Grill restaurants are located in Las Vegas, Nevada, two in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and one franchised restaurant recently opened in Brasilia, Brazil.

    Source: http://www.allbusiness.com/food-beverage/restaurants-food-service-restaurants-full/6544953-1.html#ixzz1ZLipblBS

  16. Kenny September 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    it just got worse. I think something needs to be done.

  17. Katie September 30, 2011 at 4:33 am - Reply

    @shayma oh god those are the worst!

    @KF Roadhouse Grill is owned by the Cremonini group. The company is originally american but the american corporation went bankrupt in 2001, but RG continues to thrive in Italy. Cremonini is a huge producer of beef (around 40% of the company earnings derive from their meat packing and distribution branch. They happen to supply meat to Italian McDonalds. They do offer franchising opportunities for RG. The testaccio restaurant is their 29th. im not sure why there are so many American style bars and clubs in the Monte Testaccio district, but maybe just part of the wider trend of theme restaurants/clubs in the zone.

    @Jeremy Indeed. Now 30 years on, the food industry in Italy is unrecognizable and fast food, not Slow Food, is king

    @Mamma Parla you said it!

    @marjorie shaw i am actually quite conflicted about how to approach this. any type of orchestrated N american protest must also include the intervention of locals. the general response to italian foodies has been, “it’s not worse than Angelina or Ketumbar or all the horrible Monte Testaccio restaurants.” thoughts?

    @Adrian these are all really good questions. there are so many things to say. Certainly Roman/Italian eating habits have been changing for the past 30 years. a big part of that has been the arrival and growth of the supermarket chain and fast food restaurants. It is not as though Italians took the streets demanding these things, but they have nevertheless managed to take hold. both businesses favor homogeneity over diversity and therefore have had a negative impact on biodiversity and palates.

    i certainly don’t think rome’s food culture should be frozen in amber. on the contrary, it must change as it always has. if it hadn’t been “adulterated” we wouldnt have iconic dishes like amatriciana, concia, fiori di zucca, and many more. im not even against american style restaurants per se. what i do not see as positive is the growth of businesses that embody the worst of american food culture (huge portions and unhealthy menus for children, for example).

    and on the subject of mom and pop, many will probably not be able to move into the stalls in the new market, as the comune has increased the rental fees. and moving has been halted anyhow due to a dispute…it’s them im worried about, not volpetti. volpetti is forever.

    @Engin well said, sir. i can’t imagine this place taking off and becoming popular, but then again it was full when i walked by at lunch…

    @Sue yet another reason Ogunquit is awesome.

    @Carol Olive Garden is always worse

    @mart Roadhouse grill is definitely not for tourists. the menus posted outside are in italian and there is no english website. i get that there arent any decent burgers in rome, but how could people eat that stuff?

    @Sarah May it is so bad my eyes did bleed

    @Kenny too bad slow food has done little to halt micky ds or any other such atrocity. what can be done? i like the idea of a bbq

    @nyc/caribbean ragazza the US-based Roadhouse Grills went bankrupt in 2008 but the Cremonini group’s 29 outlets are going strong

  18. […] [Testo e foto: parlafood] […]

  19. marcel October 1, 2011 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    Well, the beginning of the end was the the hypermarket, Iper Coop, Auchan, Carrefour, Billa Superstore, (REWE), and their like. Also the EU had much to do with the economics of “blending”. I believe the only way to avoid worldwide homogenization of what we eat will be the consumers “voting with their feet”, and not patronizing these destroyers of regionalism, pride in one’s product and locally based agriculture. Some have suggested having Government “Do something” that is the kiss of death, Government should not get involved with the individuals freedom of what they consume or not consume. Government has eroded way too much of our personal freedoms, keep the buearacrats off my dinner plate!

  20. sandie October 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Il gruppo Cremonini, come testimoniato da inchieste di REPORT (Rai 3), è un’azienda che nel corso degli anni si è distinta per una serie di azioni illegali e anche criminali.
    – vendere carne di bovini di oltre 17 anni come carne di bovini inferiore ai 24 mesi di età (tale carne è finita negli omogeneizzati per bambini!)
    – vendere svariate tonnellate di carne in scatola avariata a Paesi poveri (guadagnando su incentivi europei per tali esportazioni), tra cui la Russia (dove Report ha raccontato della morte di un 12enne dovuta al consumo di tale carne contenente botulino) e Cuba.
    Per la morte in Russia un intermediario della Cremonini ha pagato 150.000 euro per evitare una denuncia e il blocco delle importazioni in Russia.
    Al momento dell’indagine fatta da Report, la carne che il governo cubano ha respinto dopo alcune analisi (che confermavano le pessime condizioni di diversi lotti di carne) era stata imbarcata su una nave, ma non per riportarla in Italia per la distruzione. La nave era destinata all’Angola. La carne avariata verrà distrutta o venduta agli angolani ?

  21. […] isn’t the old school working class neighborhood your guidebook tells you about. I mean, there’s a Roadhouse Grill for god’s […]

  22. […] of the modern space that had moved away from Piazza Testaccio in the heart of the district. The inauguration of an American budget steakhouse and terrible sushi restaurant in the same complex did nothing to alleviate anxieties. But now, due […]

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