Quick Lunch at Frontoni

12 Jul


Frontoni (“…since 1921”) is a place I’ve overlooked on the blog up until now, but it’s worth a mention. The other day I was running errands on our neighborhood’s main street, Viale Trastevere, and I was overcome with sudden, urgent hunger. If I wait too long to eat, things can get dramatic! My first thought was to stop in at McDonald’s. Then I reminded myself that I live in Italy and there is never any reason one has to eat at McDonald’s. So I ducked into Frontoni and was reminded of why it’s such a great spot for a quick lunch.

Frontoni is a typical “tavola calda” — a place where you can find an assortment of hot and cold lunchtime dishes like pasta, salads and veggies. Here they have a nice variety of pizza to choose from as well, or you can order a deli-style sandwich with the ingredients you choose from the glass case.

I got a large plate of cooked mixed vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers and chicory–I got to choose from among 6 or 7 different vegetables available) and I think I paid around €4 or so. This is excellent considering that at a bar near where I used to work, the same plate of mixed vegetables ran about €8. And of course, health-wise, this beats McD’s any day of the week.

Frontoni has a warm, rustic atmosphere, with ropes of garlic strung from the wood-beam ceilings and bottles lining the wall.

Frontoni inside

I also found the service to be pleasant and didn’t get the feeling that they would rip off tourists. I think I’ve developed an instinct over the years for how places treat tourists, since even though I speak Italian I am oftentimes mistaken for a tourist (go figure), and I’m always happy when I’m treated with the same courtesy and respect as a local. This, unfortunately, doesn’t happen everywhere… but luckily Frontoni is not a touristy place.

That being said, however, look at the sign I saw while eating my lunch:

Bacon and Eggs

I really wonder if any Italians are taking them up on this offer for bacon and eggs (with cheese and tomotoes). Interesting. I don’t know of any Italians who would ever eat “salato” for breakfast, and eggs with bacon is not your typical lunch or dinner dish here in Italy. “Salato” means food from the “salty” category; savory as opposed to sweet. The Italians I know make a big distinction about the food categories salato and dolce, salty and sweet, and for breakfast, dolce is the way to go. Nothing seems to top the classic frothy cappuccino and sugary cornetto roll. Every Italian I’ve ever met has been surprised that I could possibly have the stomach to eat something as salato and “pesante” (heavy) as sausage, bacon, or scrambled eggs first thing in the morning, although I have noticed that the brunch concept is catching on a bit, in an over-priced and trendy/exotic way.

Frontoni is on Viale Trastevere 52, next to the Oviesse department store, just three stops from Largo Argentina (second stop over the river).


10 Responses to “Quick Lunch at Frontoni”

  1. Giulia July 12, 2007 at 1:10 pm #

    They need to add to that sign… you can’t have bacon and eggs without toast! Oh man, now I am hungry.

  2. Lisa July 12, 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    Che bello! amo viale trastevere! Trastevere e bellissmo perche nn ci sono tanti turisti e poi Piazza Santa Maria e bellissma!

  3. nyc/caribbean ragazza July 12, 2007 at 3:27 pm #

    I walked by that place all the time and never stopped in. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Rose in Cali July 12, 2007 at 3:59 pm #

    It’s funny how the little hole-in-the-wall places often end up having the tastiest food. I had “toast” (it was really more like a small caprese sandwich) at some random tavola calda by Termini and it was delicious. There were old men conversing loudly, small tables, and definitely nothing fancy. I loved it. I will definitely try Frontoni sometime during my visit!

  5. Carole D. July 12, 2007 at 4:46 pm #

    They can’t understand to eat anything pesante per colazione because they’re still full from eating so late the night before.
    Molto interessante! Too bad we missed it while we were there. I can’t wait to come back.

  6. bex July 12, 2007 at 11:51 pm #

    We ate at this spot on our first day in Rome, confused & hungry we walked in and the gentleman behind the bar asked us where we were from. We said “San Francisco”. His response: I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO!! YOU ARE WELCOME HERE. Then, in his broken english and our mangled italian we both gushed about how beautiful Sausalito is.

  7. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 13, 2007 at 8:46 am #

    Bex: That’s a great story. I’m glad my impression wasn’t mistaken.

  8. jp July 14, 2007 at 10:16 am #

    I can wait to try this place out when we head up to visit Rome in a couple weeks from Napoli. Thank you for the great tip!

  9. don novak February 15, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    Frontoni was our favourite lunch spot while staying in Rome this past April. Loved the food and coffee. I’d hop on a plane just to have lunch there again… or open my own place just like it at Yonge Eglinton!

  10. don novak February 15, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    One thing I can’t get my head around is the disparity between the cost of living reflected in the cost of restaurant meals (cheap!) and the cost of real estate in Trastevere ($800,000 for a 2 bdrm apt).

    A decent lunch at Frontoni cost about $20

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