Restaurant: ★★★ | Pasta: ★★★★ | Pepper: ★★★ | Cheese: ★★★★ | Guanciale (‘pork cheek’): ★★★★★ | OVERALL: 4/5 Colosseums
Rome is full of tourist traps. To maximise my chances of looking like a local, I have decided to call almost everything a tourist trap. If you’re showing a visitor around the centre of town and you want to impress them, my advice is to point at the massive queues, mutter a dismissive ‘tourist trap’, and shake your head while tutting. I do it for everything now. “That? That’s just the Vatican. Tourist trap.”
Sometimes eating in a tourist trap can’t be avoided. Last month my girlfriend and I ended up with no other option. We had intended to eat at Da Enzo, the home of my first Gricia, but Da Enzo has long ceased to be a secret. Though the food remains authentic and locally sourced, the Trastevere trattoria is just a trendy tourist trap. Every outbound Rome visitor has a foodie friend who has been to Da Enzo and gleefully recommends it on Facebook when someone asks for tips (yes, I have been that friend). So the word is out and the queue was big. Unwilling to wait, we wondered to the other side of Trastevere. While trying to locate the Air BnB we stayed in when first visiting Rome, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Da Massi.
Da Massi had all the worrying signs of a tourist trap. Man outside trying to get you inside? Check. Menu in English? Check. Red-and-white tablecloths? Check and chequered. The only thing that redeemed this restaurant was the chalkboard sign that caught my eye.
Roughly translated, and sacrificing a very neat ‘passi/Massi’ rhyme: “If you’re passing through Rome, you absolutely have to try the Gricia at Massi.”
Fair play, Massi. Table for two.
Not even the live band who invaded the restaurant playing acoustic guitar and asking for money could ruin this Gricia. Thick stringy strands of fresh tonnarelli clung together on my plate, forming a cheesy cushion for the crispy meat. I started to make audible noises of appreciation. My girlfriend Charlotte, who had inexplicably ordered some pasta that wasn’t Gricia, said I started to make ‘the noises’. ‘The noises’ are the wide-eyed hums of pleasure I make when I am enjoying myself. And before you let your mind fall into the gutter, they are noises purely reserved for eating Gricia. Da Massi, I applaud you. May you trap many more tourists.
*I have since eaten twice at Da Enzo and a review will follow shortly. What. A. Teaser.*