I was lucky enough to get to share one of the best weekends ever with my incredible parents. They came to visit me in Rome and we got to spend 4 days together exploring the Coliseum, the Vatican City, the Pantheon, and the other iconic monuments throughout the city. Of course, I made sure they ate well. In addition to having gelato every day (don’t tell my dad’s doctor), we ate at several great restaurants, including the wonderful Nonna Betta in the Jewish Ghetto. My favorite spot of the weekend was a small trattoria called Da Lucia.
Da Lucia is a quaint, family owned, authentically Italian trattoria on a small side street in Trastevere. It may have taken one or two… or three tries to find it, but find it we did and just in time. We were lucky enough to snag the last open table in the tiny restaurant; all the other tables had been reserved by locals, a good sign to say the least.
My intention for the night was to give my parents a traditional Italian dining experience, antipasti through dessert, so when we were seated and given the menus we went all out. For our antipasti course we ordered anchovies and a mixed cheese plate (I realize that the cheese course would actually be served after the main course in Italy, so we were not perfectly traditional). The dishes arrived along with a basket of home baked Italian bread of the finest quality, hard and crusty on the outside while remaining soft and moist on the inside.
I cannot tell you what the different types of cheeses were, but I can tell you that we enjoyed them all. The anchovies were fresh and marinated in olive oil and lemon juice. The lemon was a good idea to balance out the saltiness of the fish, but both my dad and I agreed there was a bit too much lemon for our tastes.
For our pasta course, my parents took my suggestion and ordered dishes that are quintessentially Roman. My dad went with the pasta all’amatriciana (pasta with guanciale, tomato, and cheese) and my mom got the penne arrabiata. I went with what has become a favorite of mine, the simple spaghetti cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper). There is not much more to say about these dishes other than they were excellently made and very satisfying. My only criticism would be that I would have liked for the cacio e pepe to have had a bit more liquid to it so the cheese would have melted more. However, I still enjoyed it a great deal.
To both our pleasure and our dismay, we moved on to the next course. I say dismay only because we were already quite full and wondering how we were going to eat any more. We managed. It helped that none of us ordered dishes that were particularly heavy. My dad got a dish of squid with peas, my mom opted for a light side of mixed vegetables, and I went with the cheese omelet, something that I have not seen offered on many Italian menus.
I was thrilled with how much my dad seemed to like his squid dish. His biggest concern was that the peas were not going to be fresh, and though it was hard to say whether they were or not, they paired with the squid perfectly. My mom’s side ended up being a mix of pickled veggies and ones marinated in olive oil. There was green cauliflower, red peppers, grilled eggplant, and olives. It was perfect for her since she felt the fullest out of us all. My omelet was pretty standard, but it almost felt foreign eating eggs. I hadn’t had any in a while. Unlike how it would have been in America, there was not an outrageous amount of cheese weighing down the dish. There was just enough so that a hint of cheese flavor came through.
Honestly, after eating 3 courses we were all so full that we should have passed on dessert. But the desserts were all on display in a case as you entered the restaurant and we saw that they had panna cotta, a dessert that none of us had yet tried. Our curiosity got the best of us and we got one order to share. I am so incredibly glad we did. Panna cotta is awesome.
It is basically a cold cream pudding served with different toppings. Ours came with a fresh mixed berry syrup. It was light and creamy with a yogurt-like texture but a flavor more similar to vanilla ice cream. Like most Italian desserts I have had in Rome, it was not too sweet, even with the added sweetness of the berries.
All in all, my parents and I had a lovely time at Da Lucia. It provided my parents with the traditional Italian meal that I was looking for them to experience. Between the warm and friendly staff, the delicious food, and the homey atmosphere, it was everything that I was hoping it would be. We left with happy hearts and the fullest of bellies… with just enough room left to get gelato on the way home.