Rome, IT-RM 191 Italy 06.3321.9537 http://www.casatuaroma.it
Casatua is located on the now-ultra hip Via Flaminia Vecchia that over the last decade has gradually gained traction. The Ponte Milvio neighborhood now teems with restaurants, bars, discos, a sort of carnival of twenty-something nightlife minus Campo de’ Fiori drunkenness. What makes this slick, modern place engaging is that it doesn’t really try too hard — to its credit (it’s located across the street from the River Palace Hotel and Villa Brasini).
The décor is minimalist without Spartan exaggeration. There’s a main lounge, a semi-upper level, and a balcony floor. None of it feels cluttered. Summer brings outdoor seating on a pebbled patio that has the flavor of an upscale Japanese garden. Ownership is young, with the wait-staff (also young) in tune with food choices and casual mood.
The mood matters because you’re not going here for the best food in Rome. Instead, you get fine semi-nouvelle cuisine, Roman and international, that’s mostly workmanlike and sometimes very good indeed. A recent visit (the restaurant opened in 2007) yielded an appetizer of morsels of scamorza wrapped in bacon that was as simple as it was delicious. Equally tasty was a flan of zucchine. Each ran an affordable €8. On the pasta side, bombolotti cacio e pepe was hearty, though maybe a bit heavy on the pepper.
The main courses are anchored by a true standout, the tagliatta di manzo with roast potatoes and balsamic vingraitte. What makes this tagliatta so endearingly good is the beef, slender, tender nuggets cooked to your liking, coupled with the sweetness of the balsamic. It’s knockout good. Other grilled dishes, including the simple battuta di manzo (ground beef) is tasty and tender.
A cotoletta alla Milanese was big enough to serve three, overlapping the plate, also with delicious tomato and balsamic. Unfortunately, the breaded veal was on the dry side, undermining what should be a “soft” dish. The stracetti di manzo al rosmarino put the Milanese to shame. Entrees run between €17 and €24.
Desserts include fruit, apple torte, fonduta di cioccolato and tiramisu (each hyper-rich). Wine list is ample, with low end and high. In a few words, a sweet and classy place with above average food and affordable prices (calculate €50 to €70 a head, depending on wine). Great for a date. Has a Facebook page. Oh, beware of mosquitos, who love late spring and summer dining, and diners.
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