Pastificio | Spanish Steps | €4 + wine (!) (you eat standing up)
Only a few steps from where John Keats died (author of ‘Ode on a Gricia Urn’), Pastificio has a queue outside that is permanently full with about an 8:2 ratio of tourists to Romans. The two choices – red or white sauce – change every day so I kept going back time after time hoping they would be doing a Gricia. It took me 20 visits. Pretty sure there was a hairy piece of bacon in mine. 2 Colosseums.
Trattoria Pigneto | Pigneto | €7
Another place in hipster Pigneto, this time with our friend Paolo who ordered Spaghetti alla Grica while I ordered Rigatoni alla Gricia. ‘He’s going to kill us!’ said Paolo. ‘Ordering the same dish with two different pasta shapes!’ He did not kill us. 3 Colosseums.
Da Otello | Trastevere | €9
One day my flatmate asked if I had considered googling ‘best Gricia in Rome’. I said of course I had, do you think I’m some kind of idiot? He replied: ‘But have you googled it *in Italian*? Fair point. Da Otello appeared on every Italian list of best Gricia, and with good reason. I took an English friend who had only recently tried hummus at the age of 29. These fussy eaters, I can’t stand them. Anyway, his mind was blown. Mine too, a bit. But ultimately the guanciale was too fatty. 3 Colosseums.
Da Enzo | Trastevere | €9
I first came to Rome with my girlfriend 3 years ago on holiday. Trusting several recommendations, we ate at ‘Da Enzo’ and the pasta was so good that we ordered ‘secondi’. Ordering halfway through our meal meant the waiters accidentally left our second course off the bill. I only realised that we’d underpaid by a cool 20 euros when we were one hundred yards away from the restaurant. We had a decision to make – carry on as if we hadn’t realised, or do the moral thing, turn back, and pay the extra money. I have little advice when it comes to love but I will say this: find someone who looks at you with an expression that says ‘Obviously we’re not going back to pay the money’.
We were now fugitives and that secret bound us together for another three years, after which we came back to Rome, this time for a whole year. We returned to Da Enzo, the scene of the crime, but miraculously there was no ‘Wanted’ sign with a picture of our faces on the wall. We ate there several times throughout the year with various visitors. It’s good, but it’s still just another dry pasta Gricia. 3.5 Colosseums.
Al Simeto | Salaria | €10
Roman meals tend to be massive, but Al Simeto is something else. They serve portions like they’ve just been told there’s going to be no-deal Brexit food shortages. It helped that I had walked 8km across an incredibly windy Rome to reach this place. My French flatmates Melanie and Antoine foolishly ordered variations of Cacio and Pepe, while I spotted that they made Gricia with an extra ingredient: Artichokes. Artichokes are a big deal in Rome. There are two ways of doing them – Roman style, and Jewish style, the latter of which is delicious and crispy and fried. Gricia with Carciofi is an incredible combo. I would have given it 5 colosseums if possible, but any extra ingredient counts as cheating. A few nights before returning to England, when I had to choose the location of my last Gricia in Rome, I chose this place. 4 Colosseums.