La Tavernetta {Eat Like a Roman}

Where to Eat on the via Appia Antica

My overseas life as an adult began in Niger, a dusty expanse of the Sahel just south of the Sahara. I went there somewhat blindly and very unexperienced and I was younger than most of my colleagues by about a decade. That meant that I made friends with the young marines who guarded the US Embassy and with Peace Corps volunteers. Both of these groups of people have had a profound effect on my life aside from my not being a member of either group. I met my husband at a Friday movie night at the Marine House and Peace Corps volunteers have been our friends and colleagues for the many decades that have passed in between those hot sandy days and our current life in Rome.

We have now reached that point in adulthood where our friends children are are graduating from college and making their first steps into their grown-up futures. A few nights ago a colleague of Mark’s invited us to dinner to share our wisdom about life in west Africa with his son who is about to leave for his Peace Corps assignment. Dinner was planned at a restaurant across the street from their house, which I have to say a quick word about. They live on the Appia Antica, one of the oldest roads in Rome, and the apartment is inside the mausoleum of Emperor Caracalla's brother. Only in Rome.

La Tavernetta is an old restaurant on an even older road but it has new owners.

It is a traditional place with bright lighting and mama in the kitchen. The owner, Paolo, rattled off the days specials at lightening speeds in an almost indecipherable Roman accent. There were fresh porcini mushrooms that could be a side dish or in fresh tonarelli pasta. Flaky pastry stuffed with ricotta & zucchini or champignons & brie that needed a few more minutes in the oven, While we waited out came a wooden board with milky mozzarella and a few slices of porchetta. We ordered a bottle of Cesanese and plates of pasta and dispensed our wisdom mixed with war stories of tropical diseases and government insurrections.

All of the desserts are made in-house by Vichi and we had the tiramisu which was creamy and dusted with cocoa with a homemade ladyfinger cookie and a strawberry tart with big plump spring strawberries and tiny sweet wild ones. When Vichi overheard me say I love the amaro Genziana (a particularly bitter one), she found a bottle of one made in Abruzzo for me. 

I'm not sure how much help we all were to this to young man about to start his adult life with a big adventure. The night before Mark stayed up late digging through boxes of old photos (remember those) to find pictures of a hidden waterfall and the beach where we got married to share. I gently pressed with advice that I had absolutely ignored in my youth like wearing a helmet, taking malaria seriously and sending his mother proof of life texts more often that he thinks is necessary, but I certainly enjoyed reliving our story made so much sweeter with time and of course pasta.

Where to Eat on the via Appia Antica

Where to Eat on the via Appia Antica

Where to Eat on the via Appia Antica

Where to Eat on the via Appia Antica

La Tavernetta
Open for lunch and dinner
via Appia Antica, 46 {Near the San Sebastian le San Callisto Catacombs and the entrance to the parco dell'Appia Antica}

+39 06 512 8076


  1. Loved this post and the food sounds delicious! :-)

  2. Loved Cul de Sac right off Piazza Navona! Cozy, great food and wine...not a rip off!

    1. I love Cul de Sac too! My favorite thing is the wild boar (Cinghiale) pate with a slash of dark chocolate running through it.


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