Ah, Antica Enoteca. I just can’t quit you. Things are so good. And then they are meh. But then you come around again. It’s really every other time.
#1 My first trip, I was skeptical. We sat outside, right beside an American couple, where duder asked for ice I swear four different times. I’m not anti-tourist and definitely not anti-‘Merican, but I do use this as a proxy for restaurant expectation. But then the pasta came. I got carciofi with guanciale (artichoke with pork cheek) and James did his usual amatriciana.
Best pasta I’ve had yet in Rome. Full stop. Mic drop.
#2 Our friends came into town after Christmas. Other friends here graciously agreed to babysit. W00t! Big night out. Instead of trying somewhere new, I decided to play it safe and revisit a sure thing. See, here, you can easily get an amazing meal, but it is also easy to get a meh meal.
Antica was packed! Luckily, we had a reservation, but we still had to wait a bit. This was no hardship because I discovered Antica has London Pride on tap. As someone who is always on the hunt for hops, this was a pretty awesome pre-dinner drink. Also, the bar is very cool looking, like too cool for me to be hanging out there, and it was big night out w00t!
Once we sat, I ordered the same pasta. This was admittedly a risky strategy. Either you know you are getting something great or you are getting something that can never live up to the memory. Sadly, my experience was the latter. It was definitely good. Our friends liked their food. But it was not the best pasta I’ve had in Rome. Womp womp.
#3 Undeterred by the minor setback, we took my mom during her visit in February. I learned my lesson and stayed away from the carciofi/guanciale masterpiece of my memories. But my mom didn’t. She let me try hers. Best pasta ever again! I was a little remorseful, but I consoled myself with my gnocchi that was also stupid good.
#4 Feeling uncreative and thinking pasta plus a pre-dinner London Pride sounded like a good idea, James and I ended up back at Antica on a date night. This time the experience was actually kind of bad. They were out of London Pride, but they didn’t mention that until they brought a substitute. He offered to swap it if we didn’t like it, but not that helpful . . . The service was really slow. And when we got our pasta, it was just ok. Better than what I can make at home, but nothing to write home about. Boo.
So there you have it. I’m hesitant to give you a glowing recommendation because I just don’t know which Antica you will get. Will it be the pasta dreams are made of or just an average plate of blah?
I can say that Antica has a solid wine-by-the glass selection and some very good charcuterie. Even if you don’t opt to try the pasta, I’d definitely suggest grabbing a seat and a snack at the bar. If you are feeling burnt out on Italian wine, you could even get a London Pride. Most of the time.
Via della Croce, 76/b Roma
What makes your favorite restaurant your fave? Would you forgive them for some uneven quality issues or are they dead to you forever?