Sublime setting in Rome

This item appears on page 62 of the February 2009 issue.

My wife, Elissa, and I were in Rome Oct. 13-18, 2008, and reinforced our opinion that we had found a wonderful ristorante in a magical setting.

Halfway between the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon is Piazza S. Ignazio. It’s dominated on one side by its eponymous church and on the other side by some architecturally pleasing buildings. Most of these buildings are apartments, but the one across from the church houses a local carabinieri (police station).

Elissa and Richard Finerman with their favorite waiter, Antonio.

On another side of the small piazza is the Ristorante da Sabatino a S. Ignazio (Piazza S. Ignazio, 169; phone 06-6797821, They serve lunch and dinner, and the menu is pretty much the same for either meal. Their pizza is the authentic kind, with a thin, cracker-like crust. Toppings are simple and delicious.

But the magic happens at dinner when it’s dark. Although there are plenty of tables inside, outside is where you want to be. The piazza is lit up, and the sounds and crowds of the city are absent, leaving only the conversations and laughter of your fellow diners. Any minute, Fellini will be yelling “Action!” Even the waiters get into the act.

Everybody gets a little preorder treat, which is usually bruschetta and fabulous fried mozzarella. Instead of sliced bread, ask for what they call “focaccia bread.” It looks like a hollow football, and we believe it’s actually two pieces of pizza bread stuck together. I highly recommend their antipasto della casa, an assortment of peppers, olives, meatballs, eggplant and, in our case, buffalo mozzarella (from buffalo milk).

Their house red wine is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is just fine and quite reasonably priced, about €12 ($15) for a bottle. But they do have a wine list, and I highly recommend their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano as something wonderful and also reasonable.

I would recommend anything on the menu that you might fancy. No matter what you order, it will be enhanced by the incredible setting. Be sure to order grappa or limoncello with your espresso after your meal; they’ll leave the bottle!

Wander inside and look at all the photos on the wall. You might recognize a president or two! And if Antonio is your waiter, bellissimo!

Dinner for two with water, the Vino Nobile, two courses, dessert, coffee and tip ran about €100 (near $125). A service charge of 15% was included on the bill.


Palm Springs, CA