Trattoria Monti is not in Monti proper; but the Romans who have been coming to the Camerucci family’s long established restaurant know exactly where to find comforting Marche cooking in a quiet setting. Undiscovered by tourists, and thankfully so, Trattoria Monti remains highly respected and moderately priced, with a well-trained and soft spoken-staff. Romans who appreciate an elegant approach to both Le Marche and Roman recipes enjoy this lovely, calm restaurant, designed with tranquil colors and no fuss.
We arrived just after 8 to a nearly empty restaurant. I did not question the food nor the reputation; this is considered early for Romans, especially for a Saturday night. Indeed, the manager was turning walk-in Romans away, saving his tables for those who had reserved, and by the time we left, there were small groups waiting outside.
We devoured a plate of chicory and Romanesco, a vegetable similar to broccoli but in my mind, far tastier. We were told that the vegetables were simply boiled, but they were both incredibly flavorful. The tender romanesco may have had a touch of butter, because I could have had a second portion for dessert. The restaurant is well-known for its meat and pasta dishes, especially the rabbit dish so beloved in Le Marche, and the tagliatelle bolognese was clearly a favorite, judging by the amount of plates on the pass. After a regional appetizer of stuffed and fried olives, zucchini blossoms, fried vanilla cream,and ciauscolo sauce, as well as a beautifully presented token Roman carciofi, I opted for the taglierini con calamaretti e pomodori, a master pasta pesce dish which I could easily have at least three nights a week. The calamaretti were no where near chewy, the pasta was perfectly al dente, the sauce was just the right consistency with a mix of cherry tomatoes just lightly cooked, and it was finished with a sprinkling of parsley. The beef bourguignon and potatoes were also good, although prepared in a different way than the Julia Child version. It arrived as more of a beef dish lightly blanketed in sauce, rather than a stewlike dish, and we decided that we have had better.Per dolcezza, the apple cake (tortino di mele) with ‘zabaglione’ was simply divine. It is not a zabaglione like we know it in the states (it is much yellower,) but whatever it is, it is fantastically sweet and just thick enough. I remember it very, very fondly.
The menu is not for the faint of heart (fried lamb brain), nor for those looking for basic Roman classics. There are always a handful of vegetarian dishes, such as the cheese soufflés for which they are so well-known. On this evening, there was an artfully composed radicchio flan in asiago cheese sauce,zucchini flan in carrot sauce, and a myriad of meat and sausage dishes prepared in a way that many visitors are not as familiar with, unless of course those visitors are from Le Marche. The atmosphere is lovely with minimalist decor and just the right amount of tables. We sat next to a surprisingly quiet family of eight, celebrating grandma’s birthday with all three generations present. Young couples, older couples, small groups of friends; it is many things to everyone: date night, intimate celebration, and neighborhood spot. Due to its intimate size, reservations are highly recommended.