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Antico Arco, Rome

7 Piazzale Aurelio
Tel: 39 06 581 5274
view web site ›'s insider take:

The "Old Arch" on the Gianicolo hill above Trastevere has established itself as a reference point for Roman gourmets who want to eat well without breaking the bank. "Creative Italian cuisine" is an overused term, but that is exactly what chef Patrizia Mattei offers in dishes like tonnarelli with gray mullet bottarga, wild fennel, and breadcrumbs, or duck breast in vin santo sauce with stewed cannellini beans. The recipes are based on the kind of roots-y local ingredients an Italian grandma might use, but in combinations that Nonna would never attempt. The menu changes according to the season, but even in winter, lightness is a key word, with plenty of vegetables and herbs. Main courses go beyond the usual binary meat-or-fish option to embrace game (rabbit, pheasant, guinea fowl), and a small selection of side dishes (such as grilled vegetables with Piedmontese Toma cheese) can easily take the place of a secondo. There's no outside space, but the air-conditioned interior, fresh from a 2007 makeover in tones of white, cream, and dark chocolate, balances seriousness and friendly intimacy, as does the generally excellent service. Wine is another forte: If you're unsure what to order, ask knowledgeable sommelier Domenico for advice. Be sure to book at least a day in advance.

Open daily 6 pm to 11:30 pm.

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