Sunday, August 8, 2010

Roma - Da Francesco

Da Francesco
Piazza del Fico, 29

Da Francesco was originally the recommendation of my Italian tutor Riccardo.  He described as the quintessential Roman pizzeria.  Da Francesco is the type of place that young Romans actually go.  In the picture above, you see the sign says, "Ristorante, pizzeria, forno a legna."  They key point there is, "forno a legna," which means wood burning oven.  Da Francesco is near the Piazza Navona, which is surrounded by good restaurants the Romans frequent.  In fact, when we left Da Francesco at 11PM or so, there were actually a bunch of cool book and clothes stores in the neighborhood that were still open.

Da Francesco is definitely casual.  They don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait out front of the restaurant after you checked in.  We were there on a rainy Saturday night in January, and the place was still packed.  We waited about 20 minutes.  A Roman pizzeria is a place for pizza certainly, but also for the Roman classics, carbonara, bavette cacio e pepe, amatriciana and saltimbocca.  We did our best to have them all!

Roman pizza in general, is thinner the Neopolitan pizza.  It is also generally less sauced.  You will see pictures below.  But first, hand cut prosciutto:

Prosciutto is an Italian word for ham.  What we know as prosciutto is prosciutto di parma.  So, you will see the word prosciutto used for a much wider range of hams.  The popular Roman way to serve prosciutto is hand sliced into pieces much thicker than we are used to.  The ham above was amazingly good. You will see above that the prosciutto was served with pizza bianca.  This is the most traditional of the Roman pizzas.  It is really a thin flat bread with only olive oil and herbs.  Also, amazing.

Next, I had linguine carbonara:

A real carbonara has no cream.  The sauce comes only from expertly tossed egg.  As you see, this is served with a ton of pecorino cheese, and guanciale.  Guanciale, really sets the dish apart, it is a cured pork jowl.  It is really much more interesting than the bacon usually seen in the states.  This was awesome.

For an entree, I had saltimbocca.  Saltimbocca literally translates into, "to jump into the mouth."  It is pounded veal, with prosciutto and sage.  Pictured below is the real thing in the right place:

While I ate my saltimbocca, Sloan and Mujah at a quattro formaggi pizza:

They were definitely very happy.  Take a look at the beautiful crust.  This pie was a little thicker than the pizza bianca served with the prosciutto.  All quattro formaggi pizzas in Italian have blue cheese.  Awesome.  I only learned recently that Italians really don't drink wine pizza.  Generally they drink beer.  I had no idea.  I was confused enough that I had to confirm with Riccardo.  So, we enjoyed a nice red, but a bottle of Peroni would have been more of the place.  Oh well!

Da Francesco is a great place to see real Roman life, and a real Roman pizzeria.  It is definitely fun and convivial.  Go early, or be prepared to wait!

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