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Toto: A Cool Retreat in the Heat of Rome

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July 27, 2014 / Italian / By
Anna

I usually avoid Rome in the heat of summer, but a performance of La Boheme at Terme di Caracalla (the Caracalla Baths) enticed me, unwisely as it turned out.  The night we were booked to attend the performance, the orchestra decided to go on strike. However, it was not all bad as the singers stoically performed with the accompaniment of a single piano and they did this for free. We ended up getting a performance and a complete refund. Ok, it lacked the drama it would have had with the orchestra, but any chance to sit and listen to opera in that magnificent setting is worth taking.

The following day, since our hotel was in the luxury shopping area of Rome not far from Via Condotti, and the sales were on, we decided to have a look around. Having had a great breakfast at the hotel, I had no excuse to go into Café Al Greco in Via Condotti, but you should try it when you are in Rome. You can stand at the bar or take a table inside and relax. Of course it costs considerably more to sit, but it is worth it for the elegant service.

We spent far too much money in Gusto, the kitchen shop, which is right beside the substantial restaurant also called Gusto and very popular. We had not made a booking at Gusto so had to look elsewhere for our pranso (lunch).

In Via Delle Carroze, not far from the Spanish Steps, tucked down a side street, a little restaurant called Toto (La Cucina a Roma) caught my eye. Having been disappointed by many meals in Rome where the price is high and the quality low, especially in tourist areas, the tall guy (TTG) and I have developed the habit of picking a few Italian office workers or similar on their way to lunch and following them to see where they eat. This seems to be one secure way to choose a restaurant and get good food. But it being Saturday, there were none about. Instead, we looked for a restaurant with Italians sitting eating outside. It was too hot for me; my feet were complaining fiercely, so we headed into bask in the air-conditioning.

The décor is simple, black and white, but after a few minutes I noticed the wine glasses on the ceiling. Cute!

Water and cool white wine arrived quickly. TTG had a Pinot Grigio and I had the Pecorino; it always confuses me that sheep and a variety of wine have the same name.

The menu is quite extensive, but as it was so hot we opted for two salads and some fried octopus. The buratta came on a bed of rocket with sun-dried tomatoes dotted around it. It was creamy and delicious. The squid salad with celery and carrot was also good. But it was the fried baby octopus that was the star performer. It came straight from the kitchen piping hot in a simple paper cone with a wedge of lemon – fantastic.

Although when il conto (the bill) arrived it was more than we would have paid in Umbria, it was very reasonable for Rome.

Toto

Country: Italy

Province/State: Lazio

City: Rome

Address: 10 Via delle Carrozze

Zip/Post Code: N/A

Location Tips: Near the Spanish Steps

Phone: N/A

Website:http://www.toto1922.it...

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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