This is an experience that dates back 12 years ago when I was newly married and living in a small town. My husband had to commute to Rome every day for work, and one day I joined him to explore the city a bit and to have lunch together. We did not choose a quick sandwich at a bar. As a result of a work colleague’s recommendation we stepped around the corner from where he was working and into a fairly quiet restaurant. We had a table near the window and so we were able to look out at people going past and also enjoy our meal too. I still remember what I had that day – it was vegetable lasagna.
Filled with nostalgic thoughts, my husband and I sought out this restaurant when we last visited Rome.L’Antica Birreria Peroni is still there. It has been in business for a long time, since 1906 as it happens, and it appears to be highly successful. I believe one reason why many people go there, is its relaxed atmosphere. The customers are at ease, as are the waiting staff. When we got there just before 2pm it was full but we didn’t have to wait long before we were shown to our table. In a way it feels like you are eating with family and friends, the restaurant has a homely atmosphere. The tables are simple as are the chairs.
This time was different because we shared the experience with our children. We weren’t the only ones with family in tow. It seemed a very popular place for people with children of varying ages (from a few months old – the pram of this baby negotiated its way through the fairly slim space between tables before being placed in a good position). As is the case in these establishments here in Italy, young diners are welcomed. The placement of the pram was not seen as a hassle, a solution was found by the gracious waiter.
Not only was it different because of our kids being there. The whole restaurant seemed more frantic. It was still a fairly relaxed experience because children are made to feel so welcome in restaurants in Italy. The level of noise was greater though. Perhaps due to the fact that we were there during a work week the first time, and not a particularly busy holiday period. However, when we were with the kids it was near to a festive period, perhaps adding to the number of people in the restaurant.
Hunger will not be a problem if you choose to eat here. You can opt to have a starter, these are in keeping with Roman and Italian cooking, and include dry salted cod (baccalà), supplì (rice inside a fried casing), stuffed olives or bruschetta. There were a few pasta dishes to choose from as well. Penne all’arrabbiata, spaghetti carbonara, spaghetti cacio e pepe (this is with cheese and pepper), spaghetti with garlic and tomato. I must not forget to mention the spaghetti all’amatriciana made using the original recipe from the town of Amatrice (which is located near Rome). This original recipe is a tomato based sauce that uses guanciale (not pancetta). Guanciale is lard taken from a pig’s cheek. Unfortunately there was no vegetable lasagna so I went for a meat option, as did my husband who had lamb, and my daughter had steak. The chicory was finished so we went for a bietola instead. The restaurant is well-known for its meat and sausages and believes that you will be able to pair a beer well with your choice of meat. The adults washed down their meals with beer – his and her sizes. The difference was not lost on the waiter who brought the beer to our table.
That is not to say that you are only limited to drinking Peroni beer, although they do take their beer seriously and the name of their restaurant ‘antica birreria’ (meaning old pub) makes sense as a result. I must say that beer did seem to be the preferred drink of choice for most adults within the restaurant. They do not just have Peroni, they also offer Fuller’s London Pride and wine from the hills outside Rome.
The waiters were an amiable lot and extremely efficient at setting the tables after clients had left as well as bringing the food and drink. One of the older waiters wished us all the best for the future (with particular emphasis on the two youngsters we had with us). I would certainly go there again, hopefully I will not have to wait another ten years. Now I have two good memories of eating at this restaurant – a ‘before kids’ relaxing meal and a great family meal together.
Via S. Marcello 19
phone: 06 67 95 310
Please note that the restaurant does not take reservations.