The train ride from Termini station is about 20 minutes. A short drive from the quaint single-track station of Colle Mattia brings us to the entrance of Hosteria da Amedeo, located exactly half way between Monte Porzio Catone and Monte Compatri, in the rolling Castelli hills outside of Rome.
As we pass the large indoor dining room we sniff the aroma of the charcoal fire grill, we head to the terrace, and find our table in the shade under a pergola of pizzutella grapes, overlooking a fantastic view of the surrounding campagna romana.
Seated, we learn that Hosteria da Amedeo is a family-run restaurant managed by the fourth generation, Emanuele and his mother Stefania. He is the Maitre D, and Stefania is in the kitchen, coordinating the chefs Marco Ilii and Giordano Paniccia, who apply their own creative vision to her mother’s recipes.
“It all started in the 60’s, when great-grandfather Amedeo invited customers to his little fraschetta,” Emanuele smiles. “At that time this was a completely different concept of eatery: people would bring their own food, and my great-grandfather would offer his own wine.”
In 1988 Mario, Amedeo’s son, took charge of the restaurant and decided to transform the hosteria into a small trattoria. In 2002, the business passed into the hands of Mario’s daughter, Stefania. Today she manages the family restaurant with her son Emanuele. Since 2008 the mother-son duo has moved towards a more modern approach while maintaining their traditional dishes, and selecting only the best local ingredients and wines.
A gentle breeze brings solace to our heatwave-melted bodies. Chilled rosé is poured in our glasses. Emanuele’s smile and good company at the table make it clear that this is going to be a fantastic lunch.
The menu maintains the characteristics of cucina romana, but also incorporates a contemporary slant. Pasta and bread are all homemade, and ingredients are sourced locally with some growing in the vast property surrounding the restaurant. Quinto quarto––the fifth quarter––plays an important role, with dishes like Roman-style tripe and grilled sweetbreads. Desserts are also homemade and veer towards innovation.
Here’s what we tasted on our visit.
The first plate we were presented with was classic hosteria fare, battered and deep-fried vegetables. In this case, zucchini, eggplant and fresh sage.
The fresh sage leaf was fragrant and had been picked minutes earleir, in the patch just beyond our table.
The antipasto was another Rome classic, panzanella: a slice of bread soaked with water, oil and vinegar and topped with chopped tomatoes. This particular version made with homemade bread was resting on a cream of cannellini beans, drenched with fresh tomato purée, and seasoned with wild fennel and olive oil. The final touch of the delicate baccalà topping elevated it to a perfect summer dish!
When we read on the menu that one of their strengths was tripe, we insisted in trying their version. This turned out to be a very good idea. The cooking method was on point, lending the perfect texture; there was no gamey aftertaste, and the subtle flavor of italian chili pepper spiciness completed the dish. We wiped the pan clean with bread, obviously.
Our glasses were then filled with a chilled organic malvasia puntinata by Riserva della Cascina, a vineyard planted on the ancient Appian Way in the Ciampino area. Again, not far from the restaurant.
For our primi, the kitchen prepared two pasta dishes that drew once more from cucina romana classics. The first was mezze maniche pasta with smoky guanciale that completely nailed the interpretation of amatriciana. The second pasta we tasted was stellar homemade ravioli filled with butter and anchovies. The crunch of the celery brunoise, the freshness of the tomato water and the thickness of the pasta dough concealing the liquid filling knocked this dish straight out of the park.
As our entrée we enjoyed fire-grilled sweetbreads and peaches, served on a potato purée. The lavender-rosemary accents and grill-marks made this yet another winner. The wine paired with this meat dish was a Frascati Superiore “Poggio Verde” by Principe Pallavicini.
The tasting extravaganza continued with a rapid fire of 3 consecutive desserts: a peach semifreddo, a coconut-mango and pineapple delight, and lastly, a lemon meringue pie that brought us Americans at the table back to our childhood.
No meal can be complete without digestivo, so we ended our meal with caffè and a chilled shot of finocchiello, a liqueur made with fennel pollen. This particular bottle is by an artisan production on Mount Etna, in Sicily.
Our countryside lunch was the perfect way to end the week. As we rode the train back into Rome we promised ourselves to return very, very soon.
Hosteria da Amedeo
Via Montecompatri, 31
Monte Porzio Catone
Tel: +39 06 94341163
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.