My last Rome post but one that was the greatest annoyance. I hate to leave Rome on a bad note but that is exactly what happened at Felice a Testaccio.
Cacio e Pepe is Rome’s most infamous dish and we decided to leave the best till last. After reading continuous glowing reviews and even getting the thumbs up from locals, Felice a Testaccio was our destination of choice. Well when a restaurant has the stamp of approval from the New York Times and is stated to have the best Cacio e Pepe, we’d be stupid not to visit.
Arriving at the restaurant was a little stressful to say the least. We turned up a little earlier than planned and there wasn’t enough space so we hung around the area in the sweltering heat. Once we arrived for our booking, we were left standing in the doorway for another 30 minutes whilst Italians around us were seated; it’s worth mentioning that we were the only tourists.
After being seated we had a beautiful Italian stallion with dark hair and piercing blue eyes take our order. In my head I was imagining a brief fling with this so-called gent but my dreams were shattered once we started to notice how cold and rude he was; serving non-locals was clearly not his favourite pastime.
The menu not only serves traditional food but is laid out with different dishes depending on the day of the week. A few we attempted to order were either out of season (queue eye-rolling from our waiter & gentle laughter from other diners), or out of stock due to its popularity.
When the cacio e pepe arrived at our table, it was ready to be mixed by our waiter. Excited I confidently started snapping away so I could create an impressive .gif (see above) but an air of tension soon became apparent as I was given the cold shoulder. Italians are very traditional when it comes to dining, technology is frowned upon at the table. However, firstly I’m not Italian, secondly we were on holiday and thirdly I’m a food blogger and doing your restaurant a service (probably now a disservice…)
Regardless of the uncomfortale atmosphere, the Cacio e Pepe was extraordinary and well worth the wait. It’s amazing to think that a pasta dish made up of just pecorino cheese and black pepper could be so creamy and mouth-watering.
My dish of choice was ever so slightly different with the nutty pecorino cheese making an another appearance along with the guanciale. It was nowhere near as good as the cacio e pepe but still a dish that was consumed within minutes.
After the terrible service we encountered, it was no surprise that the sides arrived after our pasta dishes. We almost didn’t have the nerve to cancel our order and instead sat and ate the fried potato and courgettes by their lonesome. As good as they were, it was frustrating they didn’t arrive at the same time.
We desperately wanted to try the tiramisu as families around us were ordering these left-right and centre but the awkwardness was too much to bear and we decided to get the bill. Apparently this wasn’t the best decision as our Italian waiter wasn’t impressed that we didn’t try the legendary tiramisu (queue more eye-rolling).
Maybe it was because we were dining on a Sunday lunch around Italian families and were taking up valuable space or maybe we just gave a bad impression but regardless, I’ve never felt so unwelcome in a restaurant before. Although the food was astounding, Felice a Testaccio, has a lot to learn from Casa Bleve, after all, you may visit a restaurant because of its food, but it isn’t the reason you return.
– Felice a Testaccio, Rome