This wonderful trattoria has been run by three generations of the Garbini family since 1934. Located near the Pantheon, this place was initially recommended to us by a couple of newlyweds we met on a day trip to Tuscany back in 2012. They told us that if we went there, we would find a charming atmosphere with great service and even better authentic Roman cuisine…and they were right. This was one of our favorite dining experiences then, and was just as amazing this time around.
As you walk down Via dei Pastini toward the trattoria, you will likely notice the current owner (who I only know as “papa”, but he might be named “Antonio”) standing outside the door with a kitchen towel thrown over his shoulder. He’s generally chatting with someone and making sure things are running smoothly, and although he will always welcome you graciously, he will never try to pull you inside like so many other places around that area do (and which makes me NOT go into them).
In warmer weather, there are a few tables set up outside. Inside, the place is not large, maybe 10 or 12 tables. Some of the chairs are mismatched, some of the plates are chipped, the house wine comes served in a jug and the candlesticks burn low with wax dripping over the sides – and every single one of those things just adds to the relaxed and comforting feeling that you are dining with family.
So on our first night back in Roma, we wandered over to the trattoria and couldn’t help but smile when we saw “papa” standing outside with a white towel over his shoulder. We got there early, about 7:30, and although all the tables outside were full (the weather was unseasonably warm), there were only a few occupied inside. We were seated by one of the daughters (I feel terrible that I didn’t find out anyone’s name) who was very friendly and spoke English much better than I speak Italian!
During our first visit in November, 2012, my mom had the stracciatella (Roman-style egg drop soup) and has been talking about how wonderful it was ever since. I had the tonnarelli cacio e pepe and have been talking about how wonderful it was ever since. My aunt had the veal saltimbocca and has been talking about how wonderful it was ever since. I’m sure you’re getting the idea that we were very excited to go back!! To my mom’s dismay, however, when she opened the menu, there was no stracciatella to be found.
When the daughter (please remind me to get people’s names the next time I travel!) came back to take our order, I mentioned to her that we had been there a couple of years ago and my mom was sad to not be able to have the amazing stracciatella again. She explained that it is more of a “winter” menu item, but then told us to hold on a moment and went over to talk to her papa. I tried to keep up with the conversation they were having in Italian and failed miserably (I guess I have to stop telling people I’m bilingual since apparently knowing a few phrases doesn’t qualify me as such). Anyway, she came back to our table and announced “Don’t worry, papa says he will make the stracciatella special for you.” See? I told you this place is awesome!
While waiting for our food, we drank the vino rosso della casa (house red), which I really enjoyed. But the whole time, I was really just counting down the seconds until the unbelievably mouth-watering tonnarelli cacio e pepewas placed in front of me. And then, I heard angels singing and like a vision, it appeared:
And my mom got her highly-anticipated, custom made stracciatella:
If I haven’t mentioned it before, pasta cacio e pepe is my absolute favorite meal in the whole world. You know how when you and your friends are bored and ask each other questions like “If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Well, for me, it would be tonnarelli cacio e pepe from Trattoria Antonio al Pantheon. I tried to pace myself, but not too long after the dish was set in front of me, this is what it looked like:
I know it looks like I licked the plate, but I didn’t (only because my mom wouldn’t let me). I did, however, use bread to try to get every remaining smidgeon of deliciousness into my belly.
On to the next course, which, for me, was scallopini al limone (veal with lemon). The veal was tender and juicy, the lemon sauce was outstanding with just the right amount of tart citrus flavor:
My mom and aunt both got the veal saltimbocca, which was also delicious:
But wait…there’s more! When we were told one of the dolci (dessert) specials of the day was panna cotta, home made by the daughter herself, it just seemed like it would be rude of us not to order it. So as not to offend her after being treated so wonderfully, we made the sacrifice. Yes, we are selfless.
It was a perfect way to finish off a perfect meal. I just love this place and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for authentic, delicious, reasonably priced Roman cuisine that is cooked and served by wonderful people – because that is exactly what you will get at this trattoria.
Next time I’m in Rome, you can bet that I will be back here (and I will remember to get everyone’s names!).
Via dei Pastini 12, Rome
+39 06 679 0798