Obviously, Rome is a humongous city with a rich history. From the ruins of the ancient Roman Empire to the city state of the Vatican nestled within, Rome has all sorts of things for tourists to see and do. A lot of restaurants cash in on the tourist business; however, hidden away in small streets lie some of the places only locals know of. One such place is still a local hotspot, but is gaining a bit of fame due to the wonders of the Internet. That restaurant is Rome’s Enoteca Corsi, a humble little place on the small street of Via del Gesu.
Enoteca Corsi is one of the most unassuming restaurants you’ll ever see. Via del Gesu is an incredibly small street off the main roads, and the restaurant itself is tucked away in a corner. Unlike most Italian restaurants, this “enoteca” does not have any outside seating; instead, patrons are seated inside, where the entire family stands ready to serve. This is honestly as local as you can get. I’m impressed by the relationship they have with their patrons; it’s obvious many have come there before, and will continue to come again in the future. Even though we were obviously tourists, they still welcomed us in and seated us very quickly, even in the midst of the lunch hour rush.
The menu is handwritten, and the lunch specials, in limited quantity, are written on the black board posted throughout the restaurant. Although most don’t know English, there is, thankfully, a handwritten English menu, which does help quite a bit in figuring out some of the dishes. It’s only a page long, and specializes in Roman cuisine. Thankfully, we aren’t talking the typical 4 plate Italian meal; Enoteca Corsi offers a small appetizer, a variety of main dishes, and small desserts. We were not very hungry, so we looked at ordering a couple of the dishes without regard to either appetizer or main course.
Appetizer or main course, it did not matter, the food at Enoteca Corsi is tremendous. One of the appetizers was a penne pasta with tomato and bacon sauce, which was simple in execution but great in taste. Garnished with a simple spoonful of parmesan cheese, this pasta really requires no other ingredient. The tomato sauce is certainly rich, but it remains in balance with the pieces of bacon hidden in the sauce. I’m amazed at the flavors that come out with just three main ingredients in the pasta sauce. It was so good we ended up ordering two of them!
In addition to the ‘appetizer’, we ordered two dishes from the main course list. One was a roasted veal steak, which was an excellent dish. It honestly thrives in its simplicity, with the veal in a simple au jus reduction and seasoned with some salt and pepper. The oven-baked potatoes are also seasoned with some herbs, and adds a good contrast to the rich taste and soft texture of the veal. They could not have done this dish better. The other dish is a zucchini parmigiana, and isn’t very popular in the US. However, I fail to see why people don’t like it. We aren’t talking like chicken parmigiana, with breaded filets, tomato sauce and a slice of mozzarella. This dish had thick pieces of eggplant with a thick but sweet gravy. With the parmesan cheese on top, this really takes the cake as one of the best local dishes I’ve had. The eggplant is fresh and retains its texture and taste, but is accentuated by the sauce, which is indescribable as I’ve never tasted anything like it. If anything, going to Enoteca Corsi is worth it for this one dish.
Like the main courses, the desserts are also homemade. We decided to order the panna cotta, which is incredibly white in color, unlike the yellow panna cotta found in stores and such. Its texture is firmer than flan, and the chocolate gives a strong contrast to the mellow yogurt-like taste of the creme. It looks heavy, it feels heavy, but it is quite a light dish. Other desserts include various homemade tarts and cakes, as well as slices of fresh fruit.
In all, this is the best place to eat that I’ve found in Rome. The quality is amazing, the food and preparation superb, and the service friendly (even if a bit clumsy in their English). Furthermore, the price is very reasonable, with dishes ranging from 7 to 10 Euros per plate. Simply put, do not miss this great restaurant. One quick note: go for lunch, because they won’t even think of opening it up for dinner. They have lives too, y’know.
**Superb local fare
**Quality food at an excellent price
**Relatively cheap considering what you get
**Somewhat difficult to find
**Menu can use a bit of decoding, even after English translation
Via del Gesu, 88
Closed AUGUST, open for LUNCH ONLY