Rome’s cheese and pancetta fraught foods often leaving you wishing for something light and fresh. At Trastevere restaurant La Gattabuia, the simplest dish I’ve eaten in Rome proved to be the most delicious. The Italian classic Pizza Marinara is nothing more than a light, crispy base, zesty and flavorful tomato sauce, fresh garlic, and drizzles of olive oil. It may not sound like much, and depending on where you order it, it may not be. But at La Gattabuia perfect amounts of sharp garlic and rich olive oil make it both refreshingly tangy and satisfyingly deep in flavor.
Sticking to few ingredients and making sure each one shines works well for La Gattabuia, where thin, soft, flatbread-like foccacia, sprinkled with rosemary and sea salt, is more addictive than potato chips. Just two euros gets you a basket big enough for the whole table. Dishes like Truffle Mushroom pasta bring richer, more complex flavors to the table, and would be the ultimate in decadent comfort food on a chillier evening or after a long day.
The restaurant, whose name translates as the ‘slammer’, is located in the ancient papal prisons, converting the grotto-like indoor space into an underground dining room. Outside, seating is peacefully located on a side street, with little motor traffic, and tables occupied by what appears to be only Italian diners–not only a welcome escape from tourist hoards, but an equally welcome escape from the mediocre food which flourishes everywhere they’re willing to (over) pay for it. The ultra-quick service at pizzerias on the main street is replaced by a longer wait and a single waiter or two stretched too thin, but tucked away on a side street at 11 pm (every outdoor table is still occupied, this being a perfectly reasonable time for Italians to eat dinner) you hardly feel in a rush. I fully intend to make Pizza Marinara at La Gattabuia a regular meal.
00153 Roma – Via del Porto, 1