Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Roman specialty from Trattoria da Bucatino

Picture I stole from someone in my program who's also been to the restaurant and remembered to take a picture, unlike me :)

Many many weeks ago (this semester has flown by, that's for sure!) my roommate and I tried out a restaurant in the Testaccio area of Rome. Testaccio is a very short bus ride away from my apartment, and it is full of great restaurants, bars and clubs. A lot of young people hang out there for the nightlife.

I had heard about a restaurant called Trattoria da Bucatino, which was supposed to be a very local, non-touristy place with seriously awesome food. More importantly, it was supposed to serve an amazing bucatini all'amatriciana dish. Well, even though eating a great meal in the culinary capital of the world is SUCH a difficult, taxing job, I took on the challenge ;)

Trattoria da Bucatino was truly down-home frills, just awesome food in a family-like atmosphere. We walked in and the main room was jam packed full of people, so they brought us downstairs, which was equally crowded but luckily had more tables. Everyone was talking and laughing, and the food on everyone's tables looked so good, so we knew we had made the right decision! There was not a word of English to be heard, and menus were not given to us until we asked for them -- everyone there must be regulars because they seemed to know what they wanted without needing to reference the menu.

The restaurant is named after a type of pasta common to Lazio (the region that Rome is in) called bucatini. Bucatini is thick and looks like spaghetti, but with a hole down the center ("buco" means 'hole' in Italian.)

Photo source

As for the "all'amatriciana" portion of this pasta dish, we can thank a town in Lazio called Amatrice. It was from this town that farmers traveled to Rome with their produce and shared their way of cooking bucatini -- covered in a delicious amatriciana sauce, which is made with olive oil, guanciale (pork cheek), onions, tomatoes, chili pepper and pecorino romano cheese.

This is a classic Roman recipe that is a favorite of many here, and it can be found on almost every menu in town. At this point in time, I had not tried this dish, so I didn't know what to expect.

All I can say is that it was beyond awesome, and bucatini all'amatriciana quickly jumped towards the top of my list of favorite dishes/sauces. The restaurant's portion of pasta was hearty, and the bucatini was cooked perfectly al dente. The sauce was deliciously smoky with the bacon flavor and a bit of a kick from the pepper, and the mound of cheese put it over the top!

Sorry for the not as good as normal pictures...I left my roommate in charge of photography that night ;)

I was a happy camper ;)

I have since had bucatini all'amatriciana twice at other restaurants, and while it was good both times, neither compared to Trattoria da Bucatino's version! My roommates and I already have plans to go back once more before we leave.

We also tried Roman style chicken, which is roasted chicken covered with roasted bell peppers. It was delicious as well -- very juicy and full of flavor.

I am already looking forward to my next visit to Trattoria da Bucatino, and I am also excited to recreate bucatini all'amatriciana when I get home...this is a dish that I hadn't heard of until I came to Rome, and now it's one of my favorites!


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