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Osteria Da Fortunata – A Hidden Gem in the Heart of Rome

If you're planning to indulge in the culinary delights of Rome, a little research goes a long way. With an abundance of restaurants to choose from, it's important to uncover the hidden gems that offer...

If you're planning to indulge in the culinary delights of Rome, a little research goes a long way. With an abundance of restaurants to choose from, it's important to uncover the hidden gems that offer an authentic experience. Steer clear of the tourist traps that line the main attractions, and instead, seek out the eateries that the locals frequent. Remember, a bad meal can taint even the most incredible vacation, especially when you're in Italy.

During my recent trip to Rome, I dedicated hours to finding the perfect restaurant. I didn't want to rely on popularity alone, as I've learned that these establishments can often disappoint. Instead, I turned to real traveler reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor. By reading reviews written in Italian (with a little help from Google Translate), I was able to uncover the local favorites. One name kept popping up – Osteria Da Fortunata. Intrigued, I decided to make a reservation.

Located just off Campo de Fiori, Osteria Da Fortunata initially sparked a bit of doubt in my mind. The best restaurants are usually tucked away from the heavily trafficked squares. However, my hesitations quickly dissipated when I spotted a woman inside the restaurant, passionately hand-rolling pasta in the front window. The sight was captivating, drawing a crowd of locals eagerly awaiting their turn to enter.

I made my way through the crowd of chattering Italians and approached the waitress, doing my best to communicate in broken Italian. "Ah, yes, yes...Liliana, right? Inside," she responded. With that, we were swiftly ushered inside, escaping the cold and stepping into the warm embrace of the cozy and crowded dining area. As I walked, I couldn't help but feel the burning stares from those left behind, wondering if I should be concerned about the evil eye. Making a reservation ahead of time was undoubtedly a smart move.

Inside, the restaurant had two distinct dining areas, each resembling a room in someone's home. A picture of Nonna Fortunata, the creator of it all, peered down at us, adding a touch of nostalgia to the ambiance.

Generous Portions, Exceptional Flavors

Seated at a closely packed table next to an American family struggling to communicate their child's food allergies to the brusque waiter, I couldn't help but empathize. The waiter's lack of assistance left me stepping in as the unofficial translator. In the end, the child received a plate of fried meat strips with nothing else, leading to a loud declaration of its inedibility. While the dish didn't seem appealing, I believe there's a more polite way to express dissatisfaction. It became apparent that Italians may not fully grasp the concept of food allergies.

Fortunately, while you can't please everyone, the meals at Osteria Da Fortunata were nothing short of exceptional. In fact, the food was so delicious that we returned two more times during our stay. We decided to stick to the classics, as there were numerous tempting options on the menu we didn't have a chance to try. From rich, flavorful sauces to fresh pasta and slow-cooked meats, each dish left us licking our lips and using the complimentary bread to savor every last bit.

The menu also showcased seasonal specialties, such as the Strozzapreti with Artichokes, which we had the pleasure of trying during artichoke season. The pasta had a satisfying chew, complemented by the hearty pancetta and earthy artichokes. Tossed with a simple garlic oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, it was an absolute delight.

The Eggplant Parmigiana was a revelation – one of the best I've ever had. It has become a staple meal at home, thanks to its sturdy texture, reminiscent of lasagna. This version featured whole slices of fresh mozzarella, set within the layers of eggplant, ensuring it didn't become mushy. We ordered this dish every time we visited, but were disappointed when it was already sold out by 8pm on our last night. Definitely a must-try, so make sure to order it early.

Another standout dish was the light and pillowy gnocchi, generously smothered in a rich, meaty ragu. It evoked memories of meals made in Nonna's kitchen. After all, when the gnocchi is perfectly crafted and the ragu bursts with flavor, what more could one ask for in life? For a change, mix the ragu with fresh fettuccine – equally as delightful, but as a gnocchi lover at heart, it's hard to beat the original.

My husband opted for the Veal Milanese, initially expecting it to be served in a tomato sauce, as I prepare it at home. However, it arrived in the traditional Northern Italian style, with wine, stock, and herbs. Despite the initial surprise, it turned out to be a delightful dish (though a side of Milanese risotto wouldn't have gone amiss).

As for the meal I ordered and eventually swapped with my husband, the Slow Cooked Oxtail was beyond words. Sticky, rich, and tender, the meat melted in my mouth with every bite. I couldn't help but wonder why I had agreed to the swap.

For those who prefer creamy sauces, Osteria Da Fortunata offers Roman classics like Carbonara. Judging by the number of satisfied diners enjoying it, I can only assume that it, too, is outstanding.

A Memorable Culinary Experience

The portions at Osteria Da Fortunata are generous, leaving little room for dessert. Personally, I prefer to savor a gelato later in the evening. The prices of both food and drinks are reasonable, especially considering the restaurant's proximity to major tourist attractions. The waitstaff can be a bit impatient, but the delectable food more than makes up for any minor flaws.

If you find yourself in Rome and crave a restaurant that guarantees hearty, authentic dishes, you can't go wrong with Osteria Da Fortunata. Just make sure to book ahead to avoid waiting outside in the cold. Take my advice – reach out to them through their Facebook page to secure your table. Trust me, this hidden gem is worth every effort.