Spotlight on Taverna Trilussa

Taverna Trilussa on Via del Politeama, Trastevere, Rome, Italy, August 2014, photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Taverna Trilussa on Via del Politeama, Trastevere, Rome, Italy, August 2014, photo credit (c) Likeitiz

We had read about Taverna Trilussa on Tripadvisor. Rick Steves also mentioned the establishment in his Italy guidebook. They only open for dinner so we decided to take a chance and walk in early. The Taverna is a hundred year old restaurant on Via del Politeama about a block off Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere, Rome.

The restaurant’s outdoor seating is lined with some mature plants that provide a semblance of dining in someone’s back garden. On our first night there, we opted for the garden seating. The manager was holding a swaddled infant when we walked up to his podium. He looked at us. We peeked through the blanket. We all smiled understandingly. He informed us we were early. They opened at 7:00 p.m. We told him we did not have any reservations but would be happy to wait. And beg. He told us to return at 7:00 and he would squeeze us in.

We walked idly around the surrounding vias and piazzas. By half a minute to, we were back. A server wearing a crisp white shirt, a tie and a vest, seated us in the garden. He handed us the menu and a thick wine book. My hubby was curious about some of the dishes recommended by previous patrons on Tripadvisor. We opted for some salad greens to start and then, the Mimosa Ravioli and the “Spaghetti del Perfetto, Ottimi!” I ordered a glass of a 2009 Brunello di Montalcino by Frescobaldi Castelgiocondo. Well, why not, I thought! When in Rome…right?

Our pasta choices on our first dinner at Taverna Trilussa: Left, Spaghetti del Perfetto, Ottimi! and to the right, the famous Mimosa Ravioli. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Our pasta choices on our first dinner at Taverna Trilussa: Left, Spaghetti del Perfetto, Ottimi! and to the right, the famous Mimosa Ravioli. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

My spaghetti arrived in the pan used to put it together, handle and all. Its wondrous aroma floated from the pan and to my waiting nose! I inhaled it all shamelessly. It was al dente with “sweet cherry tomatoes called “datterini,” some Nostrano pecorino, and Ventricina salami from the Abruzzese Fracassa company.”

I was totally shameless when I scraped every last bit of pasta, sauce, tomato on the pan. I washed it down with a glass of Brunello. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

I was totally shameless when I scraped every last bit of pasta, sauce, tomato on the pan. I washed it down with a glass of Brunello. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

My hubby did not expect the Mimosa Ravioli to be so creamy. It was described in the menu as “a small secret, neither fish nor meat, winner of a contest in Rome and Milan.” Whatever it was, the layering of flavors and textures was sublime.

Halfway through the meal, we decided to exchange plates.  Our eyes locked and we both nodded slowly in agreement: Yes, this is probably the best pasta created in the face of this earth yet! We ate slowly, savoring each spoonful.

My wine was not too heavy for a pasta dish. It had good body and balance. I enjoyed it so much I asked to see the bottle. I knew I chose well when our server gave me a barely perceptible nod of approval.

The maze of wine bottles at Taverna Trilussa. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

The maze of wine bottles at Taverna Trilussa. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

We knew we had found a treasure in this restaurant. Rome has undoubtedly many dining choices. But we were intrigued with Taverna Trilussa, with its unusual location and unimposing exterior. We dined in other restaurants. But we just had to go back on our last night in Rome.

Table of Antipasti at Taverna Trilussa: Cured meats, marinated vegetables, olives, etc. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Table of Antipasti at Taverna Trilussa: Cured meats, marinated vegetables, olives, etc. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

It was a Friday evening, and promptly at almost 7:00 p.m., we walked to the podium where again, the manager, Massimo, stood. He was on his cell phone talking animatedly, but he smiled and beckoned us with such Italian flair. As he ended his call, we told him we just had to come back. He nodded understandingly.

Si. Si. I understand.”

It was our last night in Rome, we pleaded. He nodded knowingly and asked us to wait. When he came back, he led us inside. The place is an almost contrived mayhem. It felt like going into a gourmet grandmother’s lair. Well, a gourmet grandmother with a penchant for tennis, that is, aside for the obvious trappings of great food and wine.

Interior view of Taverna Trilussa; middle frame is a write-up of the establishment. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Interior view of Taverna Trilussa; middle frame is a write-up of the establishment. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

There were shelves and tall glass cabinets of wine. Then we passed the rows of prosciutto legs held up on stands. There were traditional cheese cabinets made of rich wood and thin glass, and wide earthen bowls on a long table with marinated veggies, more cheese, and mounds of different olives. There were the dessert carts full of pies, crostata, and fresh fruits. Our mouths began to water.

Platters of Mozarella Buffala, marinated vegetables, Ricotta Buffala, Arugula, etc. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

Platters of Mozarella Buffala, marinated vegetables, Ricotta Buffala, Arugula, etc. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

This time, we opted to start with their salumi platter for two. This came with crusty bread and a plate with a mound of fresh buffalo ricotta. Our server explained we could either alternate the cured meats with the cheese or eat it together with the bread. There were about nine different kinds of salami on the platter, garnished with olives, capers, the reddest cherry tomatoes and some arugula.

SAlumi Platter served with Ricotta Buffala, bread and a glass of Amarone. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Salumi Platter served with Ricotta Buffala, bread and a glass of Amarone. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

I asked for a glass of 2009 Amarone del Valpollicella by Gerardo Cesari. When it came, the server watched as I took my first sip. He was the same server from our meal in the garden. I nodded to him. This was even better than the Brunello. It was perfect for the salumi platter, and even more. He came back and poured a little more on my glass. My appreciation must have been so clear on my face. He showed me the bottle. He remembered!

The cheese cabinets at Taverna Trilussa; In Rome, they use a lot of Pecorino cheese, not Parmesan. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

The cheese cabinets at Taverna Trilussa; In Rome, they use a lot of Pecorino cheese, not Parmesan. Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

The different meats on the platter were like the variations of ballroom dancing. One was a samba while another was clearly a paso doble. A third was a divine waltz while another was a peppery jitterbug. The ricotta buffala was a rich and creamy swing.

Pasta Amatriciana before and after it was "demolished with gusto!" Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

Pasta Amatriciana before and after it was “demolished with gusto!” Yes, I scraped the pan shamelessly again! Photo credit (c) Likeitiz

I had ordered a Bucatini all’ Amatriciana for my second course. My hubby said he had to order the spaghetti “del Perfetto, Ottimi!” again. He vowed he would eat it again before he left Rome. He just had to experience the fresh pasta married to the reddest and sweetest tomatoes, coupled with salami with its salty aged meatiness to anchor the sweet. The pecorino cheese completed the union like a pontiff’s blessing.

My Amatriciana was probably the best I have tasted to date. It seemed to have been made simply, although the restaurant boasted that theirs came with the approval of Commune Amatrice, the origin of the recipe. The bacon used was Guanciale bacon. I deliberately slowed my mouthfuls to savor the flavors.

Dessert Table at Taverna Trilussa, Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

Dessert Table at Taverna Trilussa, Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

After our meal, we walked sadly away. There were no more evenings left to explore the restaurant’s offers. The next morning, we would be off to Dubrovnik.

Jazz music in Trastevere

Musicians playing jazz music in the evening, Trastevere, Rome, August 2014. Photo Credit (c) Likeitiz

Would I go back? Of course! In fact, I already wrote it in my bucket list: I am willing to stay for at least a week in Rome and dine at Taverna Trilussa every night until I taste all the favorites on their menu. Maybe next time, we will make it to their Secondi selection.

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12 Responses to Spotlight on Taverna Trilussa

  1. prior says:

    awesome pics and what a fun experience – two big takeaways “demolished with gusto” ha! and cool to learn about Guanciale bacon… have a great week 🙂

    Like

  2. The wine sounds like heaven. I can’t even imagine. I need to put that on my bucket list. I felt like I was right at the table with you. What incredible food.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Leon Mercado says:

    It all looks yummilicious!

    I recently found out that heating Filipino kesong puti (white cheese) made from carabao (Asian water buffalo) milk, will turn it into mozzarella di buffala. Back when we were kids in Manila, we often had our cook fry the kesong puti to a chewing gum consistency before serving it with our pan de sal. We enjoyed the resulting chewiness, and had no idea we were essentially eating mozzarella di buffalo then. The only differences between fried kesong puti and mozzarella di buffalo are that kesong puti is salted and mozzarella di buffalo is pulled and cut into balls after heating.

    The Spanish for some reason, may have never introduced the heating and pulling stage when they brought cheese technology to the Philippines. Or maybe Filipinos just preferred the creamy consistency of kesong puti, and just left out turning it into mozzarella altogether.

    Like

    • likeitiz says:

      Good point. Is kesong puti made from carabao milk? I thought they were made from goat’s milk. Or maybe they can be made from different sources of milk with each aninal’s distinctive flavor. I’d love to try making this at home!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Leon Mercado says:

        Kesong puti is traditionally made from both carabao and goat’s milk. The goat’s milk variety is more expensive as you get a lot less milk out of a goat, so supply is limited. That being said, I am not aware of any large scale carabao dairy farming going on in the Philippines. The carabao being more of a beast of burden to most farmers, only produces milk as a by-product, which kesong puti producers only buy from many different small sources. I think the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture in Los Banos, Laguna still runs a small carabao dairy operation for research and teaching purposes. And yes they do sell kesong puti at their farm.

        Goats are also raised mainly as a source of meat so milk is not the main product of goat farms. They say that goat’s milk is sweeter in flavor, but that doesn’t matter much since kesong puti is relatively heavily salted. I prefer the creamier taste of carabao’s milk.

        I think you can buy goat’s milk in California, but haven’t heard of a source for carabao milk. In the Philippines they have two methods to coagulate the milk into curds: the vinegar method and the “cheese starter” rennet method. Using rennet makes for a firmer textured and better tasting cheese, while using vinegar results in a shorter shelf life and runnier consistency. Rennet is a combination of bacteria and the enzyme rennin that comes from the stomach linings of herbivores like cows, goats, carabaos…etc. It can come as a processed product or you can actually use a piece of stomach lining to curdle you milk. I’d would go for the latter. To my mind, the cruder the more genuine, better tasting cheese.

        Call me when you make a batch of kesong puti. That’s one Filipino food you can’t find in the States that I’ve been craving for a long time. In desperation, I’ve used the whites of Chinese salty red duck eggs as a substitute, but that doesn’t really cut it. Nothing beats real kesong puti. on pan de sal.

        Liked by 1 person

      • likeitiz says:

        Well, you’re in luck. My mother claims that she has learned all over again how to make kesong puti. She’s coming in October.

        Like

  4. Rose says:

    Makes a girl want to hop on a plane!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Oh my mouth is watering, you’ve described this so well. I love the idea of eating from the pan and what huge portions, well done for managing to eat it all. The people working there sound perfect as well, you found food heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You were drinking a Brunello! Probably one of the best Italian wines, ever! As if the food descriptions and photos weren’t enough to make me salivate.

    No samples to share with your fellow bloggers? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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