Late last Spring, Dan and I found ourselves in Rome unexpectedly. This gave us an opportunity to try new restaurants that we otherwise may have missed (i.e., with more time to make reservations). Dan decided that he wanted tripe, which is a Rome delicacy (at least to some), so I set out on the world wide web to find fantastic tripe in Rome. Not surprisingly, a restaurant in Testaccio came up multiple times, which is an area well-known of its offal based cuisine. I called and made a same day reservation.
We taxied from our hotel, the Cavalieri, and arrived at Checchino dal 1887 about 20 minutes later, where we were greated with our reserved table. I suspected Checchino dal 1887 was old-school due to its location and description online, but I underestimated how old school. Checchino dal 1887’s dining room is a true blast from the past, with a domed ceiling and wood paneled walls lining the restaurant. Old Rome drawings, advertisements, announcements, certificates, books and paintings line the wall, and there is a real fire place in the restaurant. Our friend Jenna, who joined us for dinner, described it as as “so old school, there are even cobwebs on the lamps.” LOL, this was actually true, but in the best way possible.
Checchino dal 1887 is truly family owned and one of the family members promptly came out to take our wine order. And, the wine list was really nice, especially for our palate. We started with a bottle of dry Lambrusco. Our waiter presented the wine and opened it on a rolling bar cart, just like old times. This was great. We later ordered a bottle of Sagrantino – our favorite wine, which was presented the same way. Very classy.
After ordering the wine, we quickly moved on to food. The three of ordered a bunch of things to split. One dish that we split was “broccoletti in padella”, because we felt like we just needed something healthy (or at least green). This was basically broccoli sautéed with garlic and olive oil. The broccoli was good, but certainly the least exciting thing we ordered.
We, of course, also ordered Trippa alla Romana, the real reason we dined at Checchino dal 1887! Trippa alla Romana is tripe (yes, that’s intestine) cooked in tomato sauce with mint and topped with a ripe sheep’s milk cheese. I was too scared to try it, but Dan liked it and Jenna thought it was “ok.” In any case, it looked pretty and we were happy that Dan got to have it. This dish is difficult to find.
We also split Saltimbocca alla Romana, or “Pop over to the mountain Roman style.” This dish is veal sautéed with ham and sage, and apparently its a speciality of the restaurant – there is even a video recipe on its website! I found the veal to be a bit tough and this dish just to be “OK,” my least favorite of all the dishes. That being said, I am not really a veal lover, so maybe that had something to do with it! Dan and Jenna both liked it better than I did. In any case, we couldn’t not order a dish that is the subject of an entire video!
And of course, last but not least, we had to order pasta! In addition to some of its traditional dishes, Checchino dal 1887 receives good reviews for its four Roman pastas: Cacio e Pepe, Gricia, All’Amatriciana and Carbonara. We split two of these: al gricia and all’amatriciana. The al gricia, which of the four I do not order often enough(!), was served with bucatini pasta here and always contains sheep’s milk cheese and guanciale. This was a fantastic version of al gricia pasta! The second pasta that we ordered was all’amatriciana, which was also done with bucatini here, as well as the standard slightly spicy tomato sauce, pancetta and pecorino cheese! Also amazing. I cannot decide which was my favorite – both absolutely delicious.
We had no room for dinner, but did partake in Checchino dal 1887 ample selection of amaro. I also ordered a cocktail from Checchino dal 1887’s upstairs bar, which at the time was planning to reopen as cocktail bar (not sure if that has happened).
We paid the check in cash after drinks, which was pretty reasonable for everything we ordered. We paid in cash; I cannot recall if credit cards were accepted.
All in all, great dinner and recommended for a delicious Roman dinner outside of the heart of tourist Rome.
STEAL OUR DINNER
Checchino dal 1887: Via di Monte Testaccio, 30, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. Open Wednesday – Sunday 12:30 – 3 PM, 7:30 – 11 PM. Closed Monday – Tuesday. Reservations suggested but probably not required. Staff speaks English.
ON A BUDGET
Checchino dal 1887 is a solid budget option for a quality sit-down dinner in Rome. Good size portions and reasonable price. Bring cash.