2013 was a tough year for Italy. Things like talk about a tax on the internet and youth unemployment rates on par with sub Saharan Africa can make it hard to see the positive.
But positive there is. New restaurants and swanky cocktail bars are opening up all over town. Old favorites are renovating and are always full.
My pal Robbin was in town from Florence on her way back to the states and requested an old school Roman meal. Armando al Pantheon is one of those places I have always meant to try but it never seems to work out. So I reserved a table for lunch. Online. It was slick and easy and efficient.
The recent much talked about renovation is indeed beautiful. The dining room is in keeping with a Roman trattoria spirit and feel that is ever so slightly modernized with a clean elegant sheen.
We tried mozzarella that had just been delivered paired with a carciofi alla Romana and a plate of crunchy, salty, lemony, wintery puntarelle. The Carbonara is one of the best plates of pasta in Rome; creamy, eggy and studded with crunchy specks of guianciale. The tiramisu is also rich with egg yolks and the biscuits have a lovely bit of crunch.
Despite a late Eurostar train and Robbin getting stuck in what seems like a never ending protest, we managed a relaxed and delicious long afternoon lunch.
There is much to be positive about in Rome these days.
Armando al Pantheon
Salita dei Crescenzi 31
Closed Saturday for dinner and all day Sunday