Felice a Testaccio, Rome.

May 2017.

This was a lovely dinner in a restaurant apparently frequented primarily by locals in a straightforward Roman residential neighbourhood.

It’s a slightly complex room with maybe two dozen tables, slowly filling between 730 and 9 with the sensible adult level of noise. Service is brisk and in English, including a sommelier who was patient and helpful. We started with half-orders of pasta which made me wonder how they would get a couple of full orders over to the table let alone get them consumed. Bucatini amatriciana was perfectly prepared, possibly a little on the excessively tomato-flavoured side, but with satisfying chunks of guanciale. A special pasta done with artichokes and bacon was also packed with flavor.

Our mains were roast lamb which was magnificent, falling off the spinal and rib bones, accompanied with roast potatoes, and saltimbocca. The saltimbocca was a bit chewy but beautifully set up with a creamy genuine reduction.

The wines aren’t listed online. The white was a dry Pinot Grigio-style white reasonably priced at about €25. The red at €35 was a local Lazio blend with what I thought was Chianti/sangiovese character, fragrant and perfect with the lamb etc., and a good tannic mouthful. We were out the door at just over €50 (about $72 Canadian) each.

We were four, and a fairly raucous group (the two couples having just succeeded in a rendezvous) and the servers played along and made us feel welcome and comfortable. Definitely the best meal of four or five in our short stay in the complex and deeply historic city of Rome.

Food 9.1, service 8.6, ambience 9.1, value 8.4, peace and quiet 7.8.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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