One of my very favorite places in Rome is the Pantheon with the small Piazza della Rotunda just to the south of it. Every trip to Rome is not complete without a visit to this glorious first century monument. There are several outdoor restaurants that line the piazza and offer decent food with great views. But the trattoria I love the most is Armando Al Pantheon which is just a stone’s throw from the Pantheon itself. Although it lacks outdoor dining, the small one room trattoria is as homey and comfortable as one could imagine.
Owner and chef Armando Gargioli bought the small building in 1961 and transformed it into his own family run restaurant. His expertise, which his son’s have learned and continue offer, is seasonal and traditional Roman cuisine.
The morning I arrived, I waited outside the simple and unassuming front door for half an hour before the trattoria opened for lunch at 12:30 pm. A line had formed close behind me. After I was immediately seated, the small dining room filled quickly. There was no music playing which I found refreshing. I noticed businessmen that looked like government bureaucrats, possibly from the nearby senate and parliament along with locals and a few tourists like myself.
The server was genuine and very helpful with the menu, which offered traditional cucina Romana along with some Roman Jewish classics such as endive and anchovies, and artichokes drizzled with olive oil. I decided on Spaghetti con Branzino, spaghetti with sea bass. The pasta was perfectly al dente, and the bits of white fish tender and flavorful. My glass of Frascati was crisp with citrus undertones, a perfect pairing with the pasta.
Delicious Fava Bean Bruschetta
For dessert, I ordered the Tiramisu. Rich, creamy and unforgettable, it was one of the best I have ever tasted.
Armando al Pantheon is a great find in a touristy locale. There are no lunch reservations, although they do take reservations for dinner. For lunch, arrive early and wait by the front door. With only 30 seats at the most, it fills quickly.
So, have a glass of wine or coffee at an outside restaurant on the piazza to inhale the sights of the Pantheon. Afterwards, enjoy dinner at one of the best trattorie Rome has to offer.
Armando al Pantheon
Salita del Crescenzi 31, Rome
Open for lunch and dinner
Closed Saturday dinner, and all day Sunday.