For Cucina Romana Done Right: Il Pommidoro

Pasta alla gricia at Pommidoro, Ro,eWhen I want cucina romana, Rome boasts one restaurant I can always count on for high-quality ingredients and top-notch dishes: Il Pommidoro.

Located in the student-heavy, graffiti-spotted San Lorenzo neighborhood (half-jokingly referred to by Roman residents as the "communist quarter"), Il Pommidoro isn't on the track for most tourists. The clientele, almost always exclusively Italian, reflects that. But when it only costs €6 to take a cab before 10pm to Il Pommidoro from, say, the Colosseum, it's a worthwhile venture. Especially when it's for classic Roman dishes the way Il Pommidoro cooks them up.

Italian orange mushrooms, or amanita caesarea, at Il Pommidoro, Rome

One of Rome's classic family-run restaurants, Pommidoro dates back to 1926, when the current owner's grandmother turned her wine shop into an eatery. Aldo, the grandson, started working here at seven. 

Although the menu does have plates inspired from beyond the Lazio region, most of the food reflects those older Rome traditions. All of your classic offal is on the menu, from animelle alla cacciatora, or stewed sweetbreads (€12) to spiedone di pajata, the intestines of unweaned calves (€10). Try the porchetta as an antipasto; the sliced pork, shown below, is melt-in-your-mouth. Roast partridge, rabbit and duck also are on the menu, and much of it was shot by the Bravi family themselves on their hunts. (This was, perhaps, never made more real to me than when I took a bite of their pheasant last night, only to chomp down on something hard. It was shot.) 

Porchetta at Il Pommidoro, Rome

Pastas include all the classics, too, from carbonara (€8) to amatriciana (€8). And while a recent amatriciana was the only dish I've ever had there that I haven't been completely impressed with — it was a little too watery — Il Pommidoro has made it up to me in the past with their other pastas. Most notable: The best pasta alla gricia I've ever tasted, complete with perfectly al dente pasta and smoky, just-crunchy-enough bits of guanciale, shown at top.

Always ask about their specials, too; you might come across something like the orange mushrooms, or amanita caesarea, shown above.

Il Pommidoro tends to be popular with locals, so make sure you book in advance. Unlike most other Rome restaurants, it has long lunch hours — until 3pm — so it's a good midday stop, too.
Il Pommidoro's wood oven

The wood oven at Il Pommidoro, perfect for roasting those suckling pigs and rabbits.

Il Pommidoro. Piazza dei Sanniti 44, in San Lorenzo. Open for lunch and dinner daily except for Sunday. 064452692. For a map, click here.  

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6 comments

  1. I’m really digging your blog. The only problem is that it usually makes me very, very hungry. I’m hoping to get to Rome (my first time) next year, and your blog has been excellent research. I also enjoy your posts on Turkey, in particular the one on Hagia Sofia.

  2. Hi Via,
    Thanks! Looks like you have a pretty sweet blog on Chicago, too — shamefully, I’ve never been… but I think I’ll be using your pizzeria recommendations if I make it someday!

  3. Mmm… this place sounds delicious! I wish I known about it last month. We were just in Rome for 5 days, our First Time Visit (1st time to Europe, actually) and in all honesty, we had some downright terrible meals. Only great meal (that we would have actually ordered a second time) was in Trastevere…

  4. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t eat as well as you would have liked in Rome. It has a lot of great restaurants, but a lot of not-so-great ones, too, especially in the tourist areas. Do you remember the name of the restaurant you liked in Trastevere?

  5. We are visiting Rome in two weeks (well, 16 days…but who is counting?) This place sounds wonderful and very near where we are staying. We will try it! Thanks for your site. It has been a great resource for me.

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