Tag Archives: restaurant

My Neighborhood Meatball Restaurant

21 Oct

20171018_201644 (1)

Yep folks, that’s right: my neighborhood has its very own meatball restaurant.

I know.

I’m ashamed to admit that said restaurant has been gracing my ‘hood for a full two years already without my direct realization, but I will pull the divorced-single-working-mom-of-three-kids card on that one. In fact, it was actually thanks to the ol’ kiddos (indirectly) that I discovered El Borracho in all its meatball-infused (meatbally?) glory, a couple weeks ago when the moms from my son’s 5th grade class decided to have a good old fashioned night on the town.

Let me tell you, it got a bit wild—some of us (ahem) even ordered seconds on the beer.

This little gem is run by the adorable Gabriele, who wins the gold medal for bestest most happiest smile of contentment ever, and for knowing everyone who walks by his little shop and faithfully saying ciao to each and every last one of them. Can I get a woot woot for supporting our local community businesses? Yes.

But without further ado: the meatballs. OH, the meatballs. Mountains upon mountains upon mountains of glorious meatballs, your creativity in concocting your own meatball smorgasbord limited only by the sheer quantity you desire: two, three, or five.


Can I kindly draw your attention to meatball selection numero uno on the meno, a.k.a. “Cheddar”? Take a meatball, cover it with a small square of cheddar cheese, melt the cheese, then put a little hat of crispy bacon on top, because, in case you haven’t heard: Everyone Loves Bacon.

Personally I’d just like to call that one the Americana, but I digress.

My daughter Paola (who, for you loyal readers, is now a whopping nearly EIGHT YEARS OLD), asked if she could make an appearance here, and I said va bene:


Sorry for the slight blur. I think I was overwhelmed by the deliciousness of said Cheddar in the lower left-hand corner. Proudly flanked by La Classicona (big classic M.B. doused in delicious red sauce) and headlined by two Campagnole (zucchini, potatoes and scamorza cheese – and that’s all – nothing else to help it all stick – they’re that good at what they do.)

Besides the meatballs as the main event, this little place is desirable on at least two, if not three, other fronts: artisanal beer on tap that rotates weekly, interesting and thought-out decor that gives the place a sort of neo-retro vibe (that’s not a thing, I just invented it), and a wall full of wine selections organized by region plus some fancy grappa and bubbly, too.





And when I say bubbly I don’t mean run-of-the-mill mass-marketed swill but direct-from-Reims gorgeousness like this here Louis Brochet Brut Premier Cru. Source: El Borracho

Oh, and I did I mention that people really like this place?

There are also off-menu items (like on a recent visit, a pumpkin meatball—eat your heart out, Starbucks pumpkin spice latte) and pasta dishes, some truly delicious bruschette (try the sauce and pecorino cream one, you won’t be disappointed), and, I hear, a killer tiramisù with whom I haven’t yet had the pleasure of making an acquaintance. Plus, plenty of selections for vegetarians who desire a ball sans meat.

Oh but for the love, love, love of meatballs! On my recent visit, a man even came in and ordered a meatball sandwich to go!

The meatballs are made espresse, meaning they cook them after you order them. Nothing frozen around here, folks. And they are generously portioned. But if your eyes end up being bigger than your stomach, like mine and my daughter’s, Gabriele will wrap everything up for you in a stylish doggy bag that looks like you went shopping, and you can continue the meatball love in the privacy of your very own home.


Just another satisfied customer.

The only thing I forgot to ask was the story behind the name. I mean, OK, drunkard in Spanish, but the owl? In any case, I’ll have plenty of chances to find out because I will most definitely be going back. And so should you. You heard it here first (after two years, that is). Long live the meatball!


And it’s Cheddar for the win! Source: El Borracho


20171018_202405El Borracho
Via Fontanellato 73
00142 Rome
Tel: 06/5430902
Reservations: The Fork




Organic Sunday Brunch at Ketumbar

6 Aug


I had a delightful Sunday brunch this past weekend with my friend Carla and her OH. Carla is a lovely Canadian member of our expat community here in Rome, with a blog called Love & Luce, as well as her site for her reiki practice.

The reason I’ve been so prolific on my blog(s) lately, and able to actually do fantabulous things like Sunday brunch, is because my kids just recently went on vacation in Sardegna with their papà and nonna. I’ll be joining them tomorrow for a week. But before I go, I want to share this experience with you.

Ketumbar is in Testaccio, just across the street from the new market. I had vaguely heard about it in years past—many years past, in fact. I had a notion of it as a sushi bar or something. It’s not. (This is why I am not a food blogger.) In fact we talked to the owner and he said that the format of the place has changed and is trying to be more family-friendly now and cater to a different clientele.

Truth be told? The main reason I’m writing this is for the frazzled moms of little ones out there, like me. Did you hear me, frazzled mom of preschool-aged children? Listen to this, come close:


Which you see on the sign at the top of this post is referred to in Italy as “baby parking,” which frankly I find endlessly amusing. There are comfy couches, an IKEA crawl tube and car carpet, a bookshelf full of toys, and a wall covered with childrens’ drawings. The owner said that it was such a hit in the winter months that they’re going to expand the hours this coming year. In fact in August it wasn’t crowded at all, so take note all you moms without childcare when preschools are on vacation.




Now, I could just end the damn post right there, because up until now my only alternative in this genre has been McDonald’s.

But wait! There’s more!

The food is actually delightfully good, and the owner and staff pleasant, helpful, friendly, and passionate about what they do. This was my experience.

Ketumbar is also, like Flavio al Velavevodetto, built into the side of Monte Testaccio, also known as Monte dei Cocci, because it is made up of the ancient shards of the cracked pottery from an estimated 53 million amphorae which are the containers that were used in the ancient world to transport things like wine and olive oil. That being the case, the space where Ketumbar is housed has several plexiglass plates that show the mountain itself as the wall’s inner structure. In fact some of the best shots of those are actually in those kid’s room pics above.


The most amazing thing I discovered is that these provide natural air-conditioning to the restaurant. A server opened one to demonstrate this to us, as the plexiglass is more like a sliding glass door. In fact, the temperature is such that they are able to use the space in between the sliding door and the mountain of cocci itself as a wine storage area!


The buffet here is also a hit with me because, for the €15 price tag (beverages not included) you get unlimited trips. This shouldn’t be underestimated. I don’t know what it’s like now, but when I went to Il Margutta years ago, you were allowed only one trip, and that’s lame.

I enjoyed the variety of appetizers at the buffet. The brunch also includes a fresh pasta dish, a second course, as well as a variety of desserts. These all come out successively. Brunch starts at noon but seating is open so you don’t have to get there at any particular time.


Chilled cantaloupe and carrot pureè with tabasco sauce kick — a crazy flavor combo that worked

Panzanella, a summer salad dish popular in Roman homes, made with stale bread soaked in tomatoes and their juice, with olive oil and basil



via Galvani 24 (take any bus that goes up via Marmorata, or go to Metro B Piramide and walk from there)
+ 06 57305338