When I first walked into Fraschetteria Brunetti*, a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo, I thought all of my senses were under assault.
If the bright-red walls and yellow tablecloths weren’t enough, they were covered in notes and hand-drawn pictures left by particularly appreciative (or drunk) clientele. Tables were jammed so closely together, and so packed—with people who kept jumping up and down to go out for smoke breaks or to call friends on their telefonini—that elbow-room wasn’t so much a commodity as something nobody had ever heard of, never mind required.
If all of that sounds annoying… it was.
It was also completely, quintessentially—and, yes, endearingly—Roman.
Forget checkered tablecloths. If you want to experience “authentic Rome”—the Rome of young men shouting “OH, bell-ohhh” at their friends and of girls wearing Nike Airs and shiny jackets, the Rome of youth and fun and noise, of Romanaccio and worn-out, smoke-spitting scooters—then this is the place to come.
What’s that? The food, you say? You want me to write about the food?
Right. The food. In the celebration going on around me, I almost forgot to order. Never mind eat.
The food is… fine. There’s a cheap, fixed-price lunch menu from Mondays to Fridays—€9 for a primo, or for an antipasto and a secondo, each with a drink, coffee, and bread. Otherwise, an enormous antipasto of meats and cheeses came to €10; pastas are €10, and main courses €12—good prices for the area and for the amount of food (the portions were huge), less-good for the quality (granted, I did order a pasta with sausage and broccoli, but it was even greasier than I’d expected).
But perhaps the huge portions and the oiliness were all a part of the strategy. It seemed like at least three-quarters of the other diners were here to eat away their hangovers or, alternately, to keep the party going. (To be fair, it was early afternoon on a weekend. It might be far more staid on a weekday. Although the exuberant scrawls from former diners, hanging all over the restaurant, make me think it’s always like this).
Want to check the place out for yourself? Just make sure you bring your humor. After all, the Rome you’re diving into is “authentic”—but it might not be the one you’ve been picturing. And note: We did not receive a fiscal receipt here (just another way this place was super-Roman…). If you go, make sure you request a ricevuta fiscale.
Fraschetteria Brunetti is located at Via Angelo Brunetti 25b, right near Piazza del Popolo. Phone: +39 06 3214103.
*I’ve linked to the restaurant’s website for information’s sake, but I’m flabbergasted by the photos. Is that really what the place looks like without all the people packed inside? It’s almost… downright… sober-looking!