Relying on a hotel concierge for dinner recommendations is always a gamble. A lot of times, even when you tell them not to send you to a tourist place, they, for some reason, do so anyway. Maybe its a language barrier. Maybe they are getting a commission from the place. Who knows. Anyway, I was in Rome over Christmas so I needed help finding a good place that was open. I had my assistant coordinate with the hotel we were staying at and he recommended Ristorante Pizzeria Castello. For some reason, the place already sounded touristy. Plus it was near the Vatican which is not a good sign (usually, the tourist traps are located near tourist attractions). I read reviews which were ok, plus there were not a lot of options on Christmas Eve, so I went with it.
Upon arrival, the restaurant was a small nondescript place. When I checked in, they didnt have our table set up, but a very nice family moved tables so that the restaurant could place a couple of tables together to accommodate the 7 of us.
Our server explained that the food might take a long time to come out. All the pasta was made from scratch and they had a lack of stovetops. No problem. I am willing to wait for quality. We started with Proscuitto and burrata which was quite good.
…and then a long pause before the next meal as the server had mentioned. However, when I noticed the table beside us, who sat after us, get a couple of pizzas, I asked for the pizzas to be sent out and they kindly obliged.
We got a four cheese pizza and a Margherita. Here are my thoughts. First, they were delicious. However, they were not in Neapolitan or Roman style. Also, the Margherita, in my opinion was not authentic. It lacked basil and fior di latte or Bufala. Nevertheless, both were good.
Now for the main event – the pastas. On the way from the airport, I was having a discussion with our driver about food and he recommended I try Amatriciana which he described as “carbonara with tomato”. I have always seen it on menus all over the world, but always ignored it. I always thought it was a New World version of pasta (you know, red sauce, meatballs etc). Anyway, I’m glad I met that driver. Its now one of my absolute favorites. The pastas at this place were incredible. Cooked perfect. Sauce, tons of flavor. The guanciale was the best at this place. Perfectly crisp with just enough fat coming through. I continued to order amatriciana on this trip, but this place was the best. As for the carbonara and cacio e pepe, the carbonara was up there, but the cacio e pepe was “just” good.
For dessert, Tiramisu which I would put in my top 3 of all time tiramisu.
Overall, service was ok. Friendly but very slow. Food was incredible, especially the pasta. I would return again – most definitely.
2 thoughts on “The Hotel Concierge Got it Right – Phew”
thanks for sharing the Amatriciana recco, I have seen that as well before and never tried it. always nice to learn something new on this blog.
carbonara is my favourite and I have found some restaurants don’t even list it on menu, so I have become accustomed to always asking my server at any pasta place whether or not it is available. now, I can ask about both, and hopefully they offer one or the other as off-menu items. Have you found this as well, that carbonara is often missing from many pasta resto menus?
I don’t usually order pasta outside of Italy when at a restaurant. I like to order things I can’t make myself. The beauty of Italian cooking is simplicity. Carbonara has 5 ingredients at most. I would encourage you to learn to make it. The other reason I don’t order pasta is it is very easy to get disappointed. Versions outside Italy will either overcook pasta or over complicate the suace (add lots of garlic, oregano etc etc).