Michele and I have been going to Checchino dal 1887 since 1983. It is my favorite restaurant in Rome. When we arrived in Roma a couple of weeks ago, we had dinner with an American friend that lives in Rome and is in the wine business. She mentioned that she lived on the same street as another American friend, so I suggested that we all get together for lunch. I suggested Checchino del 1887 as a restaurant that we could go to and she said that would be great because she had never been there. So the arraignments were quickly made and the following Saturday five of us met at Checchino for lunch.
The Mariani Family has owned the restaurant since it opened in 1887.
Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen and their sister Marina handles the accounting. Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world.
The wine is stored in a cellar that was dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae, which dates back to Ancient Rome.
The slaughterhouses of Rome used to be located across the street and the restaurant still specializes in innards and other spare parts, which the Romans called the quinto quarto, or fifth quarter, which the poor people used to eat and many still prefer.
There is an outdoor space but we prefer to sit inside.
The restaurant has a new Buon Ricordo plate in honor of the 130 anniversary of the restaurant and the 35 year anniversary of the Unione Ristoranti Del Buon Ricordo. Restaurants that are members of this collectors club give you a colorful souvenir plate if you order a certain traditional dish on the menu. Checchino’s new plate features Bue Garofolato, a beef pot roast cooked in a tomato sauce accented with cloves. One of the people in our group ordered it and loved the dish and the plate.
I started with the Assaggio di Fagioli e Cotiche, pig skin and borlotti beans cooked with tomato and a bit of chile. This dish is so good, so intense and so Roman!
Bucantini all’Amatriciana — for me this is the best pasta dish and no one does it better than Elio
Fegato di vitello ai ferri — thin slices of grilled veal liver. It may be the best I have ever had, very flavorful and tender.
With it I had the Carciofi alla Romana, an artichoke braised with olive oil, parsley and a bit of garlic.
For her Secondo Michele had Coniglio con Olive
Francesco showed me four wines and we settled on three.
We started with the Colle Picchione 1983, Lazio, Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The winery is in Marino very close to Rome. The wine consultant at the time it was made was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wines were aged in large oak barrels. This was the last vintage before they singled out “Vigna dal Vassallo” as a cru. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1983 has hints of leather, tobacco and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste.
The next wine was made by Luigi Colacicchi producer of the legendary Torre Ercolano from Cantina Colacicchi in Anagi not far from Rome. This is his second wine called Romagnano made from Cesanese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The vintage is 1970. This wine was drinking so well that no one could believe it was a 1970. It had aromas and flavors of bright red fruit with a mellowness that made it very easy to drink and to like. It’s a great food wine.
Cheese selection included a young pecorino, an aged pecorino, and taleggio served with fig preserves made by Francesco’s sister.
The cheeses were chosen by Francesco to have with the Villa Antinori Chianti Classico 1974. The was showing very well and was a perfect combination with the cheese.
Checchino dal 1887 Via di Monte Testaccio 30
http://www.checcino1887.com email: checchinoroma.it
Open from 12:30 to 15:00 and from 20:00 to 24 Closed Sunday night and all day Monday