Did you know there are nearly 10,000 restaurants in Rome catering to the nearly 10 million tourists to the city every year? 2016 was an even busier year for tourism because it was named by Pope Francis as a Holy Year of Mercy, or a Jubilee of Mercy. The world’s Catholics flocked to Rome this past year so that they could pass through the doors of St Peter’s Cathedral as a pathway towards salvation.
Though baptised as a baby, K is very-much-atheist lapsed Catholic so our visit to Rome definitely wasn’t influenced by the Jubilee year! Still, a visit to Rome necessitates a visit to St Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City – to see the famous Sistine Chapel if nothing else.
Close to St Peter’s, you’ll find Borgo Pio, a street full of restaurants, gelaterias and bars. It was here that we stepped into the restaurant Ristochicco for a quick lunch. Ranked in the top 2% of restaurants in Rome according to Tripadvisor, Ristochicco is extremely tourist-friendly with menus available in a number of different languages and can fit any budget with mains ranging from 10 Euro pastas to 25 Euro steaks.
Ristochicco is everything you would expect an Italian restaurant to be, right down to the red checked tablecloths and tables packed in tightly together. The wait staff are friendly and speak enough English to take your orders and explain the daily specials – which really, is all you need!
I chose the first pasta dish on the menu – a Homemade Fettucine Boscaiola. What an absolutely enormous serve! The couple at the table next to us had ordered the same dish and when it came out, we shared some mutual exclamations about the size of the pan and how we would ever finish it.
It’s so delicious though, that you just can’t help but continue eating – the creamy sauce, the plump mushrooms, the salty sausage, the little globs of wobbly cheek lard, the strong parmesan…all that on top of thick homemade noodles is a simply irresistible combination. Great value for the price!
K chose one of the daily specials, a Spaghetti con Spada, or spaghetti with swordfish. We weren’t sure how this would be served as the specials menu didn’t go into details, but was pleasantly surprised by this combination when it came out. With a simultaneously sweet and salty tomato sauce thanks to the inclusion of olives, capers and cherry tomatoes in the sauce mix, the firm swordfish chunks made for a hearty addition to a simple al dente spaghetti. Given that I’d only ever encountered salmon with spaghetti, seeing a different fish matched well with pasta was a revelation.
Ristochicco is undoubtedly a restaurant that’s geared towards tourists – the multilingual menu makes that clear. However, the quality of their pasta still seems to draw in a local crowd, with a few groups of young Italian women dining there as well. Well worth a visit if you’re after a button-popping pasta meal close to St Peter’s Basilica.
Ristochicco is located at 186 Borgo Pio in Rome, Italy.