Category Archives: Checchino dal 1887

Daniele Cernilli on Checchino dal 1887 and Monfortino-a Heated Argument

I reprint a number of articles by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine because I am in agreement with his point of view on the state of Italian wine and restaurants in Italy.

Checchino dal 1887 is for me the best restaurant in Rome for food and wine.

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°219

Checchino and Monfortino

by Daniele Cernilli 17-07-2017

Checchino e il Monfortino

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

Speaking recently with a journalist who I will not name, a veteran wine and food critic, I heard some statements that were contradictory to say the least. Our conversation began with a discussion on the attitude food critics had towards certain restaurants specialized in traditional cuisine.

On my part, I complained that a guide I collaborated with had dropped the Roman restaurant Checchino dal 1887, a temple of Roman cuisine in the Testaccio neighborhood where coda all vaccinara (ox-tail strew) was invented. At the same time, the guide gave high ratings to trendy restaurants in that same neighborhood that not only lacked any history but also, in my opinion, any real gastronomic merit. The great traditional dishes were overlooked in favor of a stateless and ignorant cuisine, the product of improvised fusions. Needless to say, our discussion became quite heated and I heard myself being defined as defender of “stuffy” traditional cuisine and basically a dinosaur among food critics.

I struggled to bite my tongue. Immediately after, however, I heard the same person give a sermon in favor of the most classic Barolo wines, Monfortino first among them, bitterly criticizing all those who dared veer away from the most authentic traditions by using new-wood barrels and experimenting with methods that, in his view, prejudiced the true typicity of those wines. This was crazy, I said to myself, why are the recipes from Checchino “stuffy” while by the same measure Monfortino is the best there is? Make no mistake, Monfortino is truly an immense wine and while I agreed with him on this, some consistency or coherence was warranted when defining what is authentically traditional. This because it also has to do with cultural importance, as well as organoleptic considerations, and I would put into the same boat the vaccinara from Checchino, the shanks of Josko Sirk and the Subida from Cormons as well as the “schlutzkrapfen” of Patesheider hof on the Ritten of Bolzano, just to name a few examples.

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

If you have has similar experiences, let me know.

Th

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°219

Checchino and Monfortino

by Daniele Cernilli 17-07-2017

Checchino e il Monfortino

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

Speaking recently with a journalist who I will not name, a veteran wine and food critic, I heard some statements that were contradictory to say the least. Our conversation began with a discussion on the attitude food critics had towards certain restaurants specialized in traditional cuisine.

On my part, I complained that a guide I collaborated with had dropped the Roman restaurant Checchino dal 1887, a temple of Roman cuisine in the Testaccio neighborhood where coda all vaccinara (ox-tail strew) was invented. At the same time, the guide gave high ratings to trendy restaurants in that same neighborhood that not only lacked any history but also, in my opinion, any real gastronomic merit. The great traditional dishes were overlooked in favor of a stateless and ignorant cuisine, the product of improvised fusions. Needless to say, our discussion became quite heated and I heard myself being defined as defender of “stuffy” traditional cuisine and basically a dinosaur among food critics.

I struggled to bite my tongue. Immediately after, however, I heard the same person give a sermon in favor of the most classic Barolo wines, Monfortino first among them, bitterly criticizing all those who dared veer away from the most authentic traditions by using new-wood barrels and experimenting with methods that, in his view, prejudiced the true typicity of those wines. This was crazy, I said to myself, why are the recipes from Checchino “stuffy” while by the same measure Monfortino is the best there is? Make no mistake, Monfortino is truly an immense wine and while I agreed with him on this, some consistency or coherence was warranted when defining what is authentically traditional. This because it also has to do with cultural importance, as well as organoleptic considerations, and I would put into the same boat the vaccinara from Checchino, the shanks of Josko Sirk and the Subida from Cormons as well as the “schlutzkrapfen” of Patesheider hof on the Ritten of Bolzano, just to name a few examples.

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

If you have has similar experiences, let me know.

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Filed under Checchino dal 1887, Daniele Cernilli, Uncategorized

Checchino dal1887 a Classic Roman Restaurant

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

The Mariani Family has owned the restaurant Checchino dal 1887 since it opened in 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.

Francesco and Michele

Francesco and Michele

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 kept 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 here and the restaurant still specializes in the innards and other spare parts, called the quinto quarto, which the poor people used to eat.

Michele and I first came here 33 years ago and come back every time we are in Rome, which is very often. There is an outdoor space but we prefer to sit inside.

I enjoy speaking with Francesco about wine and like his recommendations. He knows I like older red wines from the area around Rome, especially Fiorano Rosso, Torre Ercolano and Colle Picchione, which are now almost impossible to find, so whenever I come to Rome, he searches his cellar to see what he can find. In February it was a 1971 Fiorano, and the year before a 1983 Colle Picchione. This year he said that he found another bottle of the 1983 Colle Picchione and of course I wanted it.img_1312

Colle Picchione 1983, Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wines were aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1983 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste. It was as good as it was last time I had it.img_1313

To accompany the wine, I started with the Assaggio di Fagioli e Cotiche, pig skin and borlotti beans cooked with tomato. This dish is so good, so intense and so Roman!img_1314

 

Michele had Puntarelle con salsa di alici, a seasonal salad of Catalonian chicory with anchovy sauce, one of her favorites.img_1316

Bucantini all’Amatriciana — for me this is the best pasta dish and I almost always order it here. We both had it again.img_1315

Coda alla vaccinara ox-tail in a tomato sauce.img_1317

Fegato di vitello ai ferri — thin slices of grilled veal liver. It may be the best I have ever had, very flavorful and tender.img_1318

For dessert we had Torta stracciatella – one of my favorites. A cake with chocolate chips.img_1319

Tortino di pere e noci, a spiced pear cake with nuts and chocolate sauce.

Notes

If you go, ask for Francesco and take his advice on both the food and the wine. Be sure to ask if he would show you the wine cellar.

Checchino 1887 was one of the restaurants that took part in the Bio*Sagra for children, held at Fattoria Fiorano to benefit the Hospital Bambino Gesú https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/fiorano-for-kids/img_1406

Here is a picture of Francesco serving the pasta e ceci at the event. Michele really likes this.

Mercato Testaccio (Testaccio Market) is just across the street from the restaurant and worth a visit. It is closed on Sunday.

 

 

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Filed under Checchino dal 1887, Colle Picchioni, Italian Red Wine, Roman Restaurants, Roman restaurants, Rome

Bio*Sagra for Kids

Michele and I met Alessia Antinori a few years ago when we visited La Fattoria di Fiorano, her winery near Rome.

Last week, she invited us to attend a charity event for children which she hosts every year at the estate.

The #Bio*SagraforKids is organized by the eleven members of Fiorano for Kids, a group of friends with a common passion for wine and with children between 0 and 12 years who have the desire to rediscover and promote a lifestyle in harmony with nature. Their purpose is to contribute to a common goal to help children less fortunate as follows:img_1414

“Upon the recommendation of the Director of the Department of Neurological Sciences Hospital Bambino Gesú in Rome, their objective will be to finance each year a researcher who will focus their research on the therapeutic role of some diets in the treatment of epilepsy in children. The fundraising is developed through the organization of meetings and events in the territory of Rome, for the involvement and awareness of the participation of the fundamental role of donations in the development of three research projects for many children with epilepsy.” www.fioranoforkids.itimg_1391

The Bio*Sagra Sunday festival took place at the 100-hectare organic winery/farm La Fattoria di Fiorano just across from Rome’s Ciampino airport. 50 of Rome’s top restaurants and pastry shops were represented and served iconic foods including some of our favorites: Checchino 1887, Armando al Pantheon, Trimani Wine Bar, Enoteca Ferrara, Glass and Per Me. Fonzie The Burger’s House had the longest line!img_1395

A huge crowd showed up, many with toddlers who were very cute to see. The property boasts a large organic garden filled with seasonal vegetables and fruits and the children participated in workshops about gardening.

img_1397 They visited the animals, played on bales of hay, enjoyed organized games, listened to 3 different groups playing music, ran around, ate and had a good time.  Adults and kids alike enjoyed the variety of food supplied by the restaurateurs.img_1393

Michele and I were glad we got there early.  Alessia has done a lot of landscaping and planting since our last visit and the property is very beautiful. The trees were laden with quince and the gardens were full of cabbages, artichokes, and many other vegetables.img_1404

We tried tastes of several foods from different restaurants.  Rice balls with tomato and mozzarella from Supplizio, a veal tongue slider with greens, a sausage in tomato sauce hero from Bonci,img_1390

but the best was the zuppa di ceci from Checchino, which Michele swears she could eat every day.

Though the skies threatened rain, it did not stop the crowds from coming and having a great time. All of the day’s proceeds go to the Hospital Bambino Gesú in Rome.

Alessia Antinori said that her grandfather Alberico Boncompagni, the founder of the estate, was a forerunner of modern organic farming and it was her goal to keep up the tradition.img_1401

If you are visiting Rome and want to plan a day in the country, the estate welcomes visitors, especially families, every weekend. You can find out more information here at www.fattoriadifiorano.com

 

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When in Rome-Our Favorite Restautants

Michele and I rented an apartment in Rome again in February.IMG_9834

We have decided that for us it is better than a winter vacation to Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean. While it may not be as warm, the food is much better and Rome is Rome and we love it. These are the restaurants that Michele and I go back to every time we are in Rome.IMG_9708

Trattoria da Giggetto– Michele and I always go to the same place for lunch when we arrive in Rome.  We drop off our bags and walk to Da Giggetto (39-066861 05) at Portico D’Ottavia 21/A-22 in the Jewish ghetto.

I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici.  The flowers were small and crunchy and very good.IMG_9710

I also get carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichoke) and spaghetti con vongole veraci.

IMG_9711The tiny clams were tender and seasoned with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper.  Michele had carciofi alla romana, braised artichoke and fettuccine with ragu. We drank the Passerina del Fruisnate IGT 2014 from Feudi Del Sole. It went very well with the food even with the fried artichoke.

Trattoria Armando al Pantheon-Salita de’ Crescenzi 21 This is one of Michele’s favorite restaurants in Rome and one of the restaurants that you have to make a reservation for lunch or dinner. We only started going here a few years ago and have been going there ever since.IMG_9694

I started with grilled bread Roman style with butter and anchovies,  while Michele had Buffalo mozzarella with braised Roan artichoke.

IMG_9701Then we had spaghetti alla Matriciana, chicken in white wine with peppers, and grilled sausages with lentils.IMG_9696

We drank Ghemme 2005 “Collis Brechema” Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo

IL Martriciano Via dei Gracchi, 55    06 32 13 040-06 32 12 327

Michele and I have been coming here for the last 35 years and nothing changes, the owners, the waiters and the menu are the same. I started as usual with a carciofo romano, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies and of course bucatini matriciana

IMG_9765 I had the roasted baccala with potatoes in a tomato and onion sauce, which was delicious.IMG_9764

Michele had Vignarola, peas, artichokes and fava beans.

And for dessertIMG_9766

Ristorante Ar Galletto Piazza Farnese 104   06 686 1714

Michele likes to come here when the weather is warm so we can sit outside because the restaurant is in the Piazza Farnese and she loves the view.IMG_9771

We had fiori di zucca, fried artichoke, spaghetti with fresh anchovies and pecorino.IMG_9775

and crostata for dessert.IMG_9768

We drank Offida Pecorino 2014 “Merlettale” from Ciú Ciú.

Checchino Dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com), Via  Monte 30 Testaccio.IMG_9789

The Mariani family has owned the restaurant since 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.

Michele and I have been coming here since 1981. It is the restaurant where I drank Fiorano Rosso for the first time. The vintage was 1961IMG_9786

We went with friends that live in Rome and they were surprised when the Francesco came over and the first thing he said was, “I have one bottle of Fiorano Rosso left, the 1983, do you want it?” That was a trick question. Of course I wanted it!IMG_9791

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 cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae, which date back to Ancient Rome. Francesco gave us a tour of the cellar that holds over 600 wines.IMG_9856

The slaughterhouses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so-called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.IMG_9781

We ate Artichoke alla RomanaIMG_9783

Bucatini all’AmatricianaIMG_9897

Fegato di Vitello ai ferri, and grilled baby lamb chops.

For dessertIMG_9898

We also drank a Cesanese 2013 “Amarasco” Principe Pallavicini.

 

 

 

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Filed under Amatriciana, Cantalupo, Checchino dal 1887, Ciu Ciu Pecorino, Da Giggetto, Fiorano Rosso, Il Matriciano, Restaurant Checchino 1887, Ristorante Ar Galletto, Roman restaurants, Rome, Torre Ercolana, Trattoria Armando al Pantheon

Classic Roman Restaurants

Michele and I rented a apartment in Rome for two weeks. It is in the Monti area which is very close to the Colosseum and the  Forum.

IMG_7354 The apartment we rented was  very comfortable, functional and a  good value for the money. Here is the link https://montihome.wordpress.com

As I have said many times before I love the food in Rome. This time we went back to some of our old favorite restaurants all of which are family run.

 Checchino dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com, Via di Monte 31 Testaccio).

IMG_7458

Francesco and Elio

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.IMG_7460

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 cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae which date back to Ancient Rome. The slaughter houses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.

I always have long conversations with Francesco about Italian wine and which one I should order with what I am eating. Francesco recommended a bottle of white to start.IMG_7450

Est, Est, Est di Montefiascone, Poggio Dei Gelsi 2013 Falesco Made from 50% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia and 20% Roscetto. Riccardo Cotarella and his brother Renzo, the winemaker for Antinori, own the winery.

There is soft pressing of the grape-clusters. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with selected indigenous yeasts. There is no skin contact and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Ciromaceration is used for the Roscello grapes. The wine is bottled early to keep its characteristic freshness and taste and it is aged in the bottle. This is an easy to drink wine with floral hints, fruity notes and good acidity.

Three great Bordeaux blends are produced within a short distance from Rome: Torre Ercolano, Colle Picchione and Fiorano. Older vintages of Torre Ercolano and Fiorano Rosso (made by the old Principe who stopped making wine in 1995) are no longer available. Two versions of Fiorano are now made by the old prince’s descendants, his cousin Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi, and another by his granddaughter, Alessia Antinori.IMG_7452

I asked Francesco if they had any older vintages of Colle Picchione. He said he would look and came back with a 1983. This was the last vintage before they singled out “Vigna dal Vassallo” as a cru.

Colle Picchione 1983, Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wines were aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1983 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste.IMG_7453

With the wines, we ate artichokes alla Romana, Coda alla Vaccinara, oxtail in tomato celery sauce with pine nuts, raisins and bitter chocolate, Bucatini all’Amatriciana and grilled baby lamb chops.IMG_7457

Torta stracciatella, a chocolate chip cake, was served with a glass of di Roscetto Passiro Felesco 2012 IGP Lazio Made from 100% Roscetto. This is a native variety from Lazio. The grapes are air dried in a special room to facilitate the development of Botrytis (noble rot).IMG_7456

The wine has nice fruit sensations on the nose, its taste is creamy, full bodied and harmonious with a long lingering finish with honey notes. It was a perfect combination with the torta.

Checchino is still a member of L’ Unione di Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo, a group of restaurants that give you a hand painted plate if you order their signature dish or tasting menu.

The first time I went to Il Matriciano (39-06-32500364) Via dei Gracchi, 55. The Calasanti family has owned and operated the restaurant since 1912. The present owners, a brother and sister, are always there. Alberto Calasanti is on the floor. He greets the guests and plates the food while his sister sits behind a counter and takes care of the checks. There is a nice outdoor space but of late we like to sit inside, which seems to be favored by the Romans. On Sunday afternoon and at night it is best to make a reservation.IMG_7469

As usual, I ordered zucchini flowers (I cannot get enough of them) and artichokes alla giudia to start. The flowers were perfectly deep fried with a small amount of mozzarella and more than a hint of anchovy stuffing.

IMG_7471 I ordered the bucatini alla matriciana.IMG_7475

Then I had abbacchio al forno, baby lamb roasted with potatoes and rosemary. It was cooked to perfection, moist with crisp skin.IMG_7477

For desert I had tiny fragoline, wild strawberries, and gelato.IMG_7473

We had a Pecorino 2014 IGP Terre di Chieti Cantina Tollo Abruzzo 100% Pecorino Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine has hints of white peach, a touch of spice, with good minerality and acidity.

Armando al Pantheon can be difficult to get into, so always book ahead. The restaurant was established in 1961 by Armando Gargioli. This time we went there twice, once on our own and another time with friends Ernie and Louise.IMG_7315

On the first visit I ordered the bruschetta, one with truffle and quail egg and the other with lardo and walnuts. Then I had bucatini alla matriciana and grilled lamb. The dessert was a strawberry crostata with a lattice top.IMG_7359

The next time we went, both Michele and I ordered the pasta with black truffles because we remembered how the aroma of the truffles filled the whole room on our previous visit. It was wonderful.

The Torta

The Torta

Michele also had Roman style chicken with peppers and we ended with their famous dessert, Torta Antica, made with ricotta.IMG_7316

By the way, she says that the artichoke alla Romana here is the best in Rome.IMG_7314

Both times we ordered 2011 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, from Emidio Pepe.   It was less than 40 Euro–a real bargain in a restaurant. The wine was big but with a lot of fruit and not as tannic as I would have expected. Most of my experiences with Pepe’s wines are ones that are 25 years and older.

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Da Giggetto (39- 066861 105) at Portico D’Ottavia 12 A, in the Jewish ghetto. The Ceccarelli family has owned the restaurant since 1923. We went here twice, once by ourselves and the second time with friends. IMG_7335

I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici (small and crunchy but very good), carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichokes) and spaghetti con vongole veraci.IMG_7437

The clams were small and tender with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper. But since we went twice I also had the aliciotti fritti, fried anchovies, and the fava beans stewed with guanciale.

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Michele also had fava beans with guanciale. We have been going here for many years and have never been disappointed.IMG_7434

We had the Bellone 2013 IGT Lazio “Castore,” I00% Bellone, Cincinnato. The Bellone grape may go back to ancient Roman times and is now grown mostly in vineyards around Rome. This is a fresh, fruity, easy to drink white wine that worked very well with the starters.IMG_7438

We also drank a Passerina Del Frusinate 2013 from Feudi Del Sole 100% Passerina. The winery is located a few kilometers from Rome in the Castelli Romani. It is a wine with hints of apples and white preachers, good acidity and a long finish and nice aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Armando al Pantheon, Checchino dal 1887, Cincinnato winery, Colle Picchioni, Da Giggetto, Falesco Winery, Feudi Del Sole winery, Il Matriciano, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Pecorino, Roman Restaurants, Rome