A couple of thousand years ago, the ancient Romans built a rubbish dump on a bend in the river Tiber, a couple of kilometres south of central Rome. This was the site of Emporium, the port of Rome, and the rubbish dump was made up of shards of terracotta amphora which people used to transport olive oil, wine, and myriad other products to the city. The terracotta amphora was the packing crate of the ancient world. Over the years, the dump became so high that it earned the name mons Testaceus (the mount of terracotta shards). Both the dump and the name (italianized as monte Testaccio) have survived to the present day and in fact it has given its name to one of the most trendy neighbourhoods in the city: Testaccio.
Apart from the thrilling local market, which I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Testaccio is also home to some great bars and restaurants which range from the traditional to the downright trendy. One of the latter is Masto. This small, family run restaurant has a retro feel, enhanced by the bicycle, vintage telephone, and other memorabilia which grace the walls. Wooden tables and metal bar stools (which are surprisingly comfortable) fill the place and give you a great view of what your fellow diners are eating. In summer months, there are tables outside too so don’t despair if it looks full (although you should book to avoid disappointment). Here’s a link to their instagram. There are some amazing images of the restaurant.
The menu is traditional with a twist, firmly based on delicious fresh Italian ingredients. The antipasti of cold cuts and cheese, served with honey and marmalade, are exquisite. The two times I’ve been there, I limited myself to an antipasto and a primo but I’m dying to go back to try a full meal. (In fact the delightfully friendly hostess, Rita, told me to come back and she’d do me a tasting menu). An honourable mention must go to the gnocchi all’amatriciana (see photo) topped with perfectly crispy guanciale. You must … I repeat must try this.
So watch this space for when I have time to return for a … third time lucky … full meal.
Four stars out of five: EXCELLENT
Via Galvani, 39/41
00153 Testaccio RM