Based off my friend KK’s, recommendation, I made reservations for lunch at Trattoria Monti. It’s definitely off the tourist path although, when you walk up to the entrance, you see a myriad of stickers and postings highlighting how well-rewarded and highly-recognized this restaurant seems to be. After the 20min walk in the Roman heat from The Colosseum, I was ready to eat by the time I arrived.
After perusing the menu, we settled on a few dishes, but it was hard deciding… as it usually is, especially for me, because I want to TRY EVERYTHING. The key word is “try.” I taste everything, but I don’t actually finish anything. Such is the problem and ever-present dilemma I face when I go to any restaurant but especially the new ones.
The first course was Olive Osedane, Conscolo, Crema Fritta e Terdure Fritte which was essentially a Fritto Misto of sorts. Everything was deep-fried, but the most interesting one was the Fried Vanilla Cream. It was sweet yet battered in oil. It tasted especially good when you would eat it with the fried squash or the sausage like cold cut. Interesting… overall it was a good way to start the meal.
One of the primi dishes was Penne Carbonara. This was a solid dish. The penne was cooked very al dente (probably a tad bit more than I would like) and the fresh-shaved parmesan, pork bits and cracked pepper gave it a stronger flavor than I am used to, but considering I don’t usually like carbonara, this dish was not bad. It was decent.
The other primi dish was Cod Ravioli and I thought this was really special! I loved it! The moment I took a bit, I was in heaven. The ravioli was thick but soft and the filling was a mix of fish and herbs. The sauce was a nice, subtle tomato sauce. It was really delicious. There were only about 5 maybe 6 raviolis, but once I finished my share, I wanted more!
The segundi dish was Involtini di Pescespada which was essentially rolls of swordfish filled with a mix of fish, breading, and herbs. This was equally delectable! The sauce was tomato-based with some really delicious cherry tomatoes and pine nuts. I really liked it, and I can safely say I’ve never had anything like this before, ever. It was yummy beyond belief.
Overall, the restaurant was the best one so far on the trip. Not only was it absolutely delicious, I also felt like it was different… and special. It felt like the Italian equivalent of a Napa Valley or other Bay Area restaurant. The ingredients were fresh, the food was well-prepared, and it exuded a strong sense of fine, high end dining. Although there seemed to be a fair number of locals there, I think it is very well-known among tourists. We were sitting next to a french couple, and in fact, I saw a fair number of tourists carrying guide books walk in and get turned away. This happened quite a bit. Although the restaurant wasn’t that full, there was no way you could get a table without a reservation. My friend emphatically told me this same thing, and I even read about that being the case in a few reviews including Frommers. I’m so lucky that I did though, because it really was worth it. All the way!
PAFO Ratings for Trattoria Monti:
Price 3 ½ stars
Ambiance 3 ½ stars
Food 4 ½ stars
Overall rating 4 stars