When Robert and I were in Rome, we ate primarily at restaurants serving traditional Roman fare. Robert had never been to Italy, and wanted to experience classic foods and dishes. Our two favorites were Checcino dal 1887 and La Campana.

Checchino dal 1887

This restaurant was recommended by my college friend, Italian food and wine expert and famous restauranteur Danny Meyer. Located in what was once the meat packing district, the restaurant has a fun history, having been in the same family for five generations. It is still managed by descendants of the founder – two  brothers. We ate out on the patio, which was charming (although I did get some mosquito bites on my ankles, so take bug spray if you go!).

We sampled a variety of dishes – a pasta with bolognese sauce, which we shared, was our first course. The house made pasta was done perfectly, as was the sauce. The fresh tomato flavor really came through. Yummy!


Robert had the chicken and wild mushrooms for his main course, which was super moist, tender, and earthy-tasting.


I had the involtini – thinly sliced meat stuffed with vegetables and covered with a red sauce. I was excited to try this dish, as at home I have an old involtini recipe of mom’s that I haven’t yet made. It was fabulous! The meat was surprisingly tender, and all of the flavors blended together well.


We ordered sliced, marinated eggplant on the side – so simple, yet so full of flavor! Eggplant, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs. Heaven.


Somehow Robert convinced me to skip dessert!

The wine list is extensive, and the service was excellent – very warm, helpful and attentive.  A winner all around!

La Campana

This restaurant was recommended by my childhood (and still) best friend – and award winning travel agent – Katey Hartwell. As soon as Robert and I arrived, I realized I had been to this restaurant with Katey several years ago. If you only have the time – or money – to treat yourself to one restaurant in Rome, go here. While the service is a bit brusque (not unusual in Rome), the food is fabulous – bonissimo as they say in Italian. The decor is typical of a traditional Roman restaurant (i.e., hard wooden chairs, too bright lights!).

As we entered the restaurant, we walked by a beautiful antipasti buffet, which we opted for as our first course. OMG – amazing! I think it’s the olive oil that makes all the difference – or it could be the freshness of the vegetables; probably both. Artichokes, broccolini, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, onions, olives, sundried tomatoes. I could have just eaten the antipasti all night! But then I would have missed the rest of the amazing food.


For the next course, Robert and I shared the fetucinni with black truffle sauce. I love anything with truffles, and this pasta didn’t disappoint. The pasta was perfectly cooked (just the right amount of chewiness), and the sauce had a deep, earthy flavor. The Parmesan cheese was fresh and tangy. I was in heaven and we weren’t even to the main course yet!


Robert is known for his Eggplant Parmesan (his recipe is here and will be in my next cookbook, due out in the Fall of 2015), so he opted to taste La Campana’s version for his main course. He liked it so much he did what I often do, and started asking questions about how it was prepared. The manager was happy to share details, and Robert can’t wait to try this new way to prep the eggplant (hint: they don’t bread it).


I chose the fresh fish of the day, which was grilled and served simply with chopped fresh parsley and a large wedge of lemon. Fabulous! I love the way they cook the fish whole, then skin and debone it table side. Wish they would do that in the US!


So now we were both in a food coma, but that didn’t stop us from finishing the meal sharing a tiramisu. La Campana’s version was creamy and light, with just a hint of liquor (rum maybe?) and unsweetened dark chocolate on the top. Perfect ending to a perfect meal!



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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I’ve provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

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