Lazio restaurant Proloco Trastevere offers sustainable dining in Rome, thanks to a unique farm-to-table approach that prizes Lazio produce and celebrates the region’s favourite recipes.
Situated in Via Goffredo Mameli in Trastevere, Proloco Trastevere’s unique formula makes this a great spot for brunch, lunch, dinner, and after dinner cocktails or wine.
This Lazio restaurant is local-hero Vincenzo Mancino’s third eatery in Rome. To understand what makes this place so special, we have to wind back in time to Mancino’s first food project, Bottega del Gusto DOL, which opened in a quiet residential district east of Termini in 2006.
The original Lazio restaurant project – Proloco DOL
Roman-born Mancino was obsessed with a farm-to-table philosophy before it was cool, convinced that the Lazio region guarded food treasures which had never been collected in a meaningful way. So it was that Bottega del Gusto DOL in Centocelle was born in 2006 – a deli and casual eatery which literally catalogued hundreds of Lazio-made cheeses, salamis, cured meats and other specialities, which could be bought and taken away, or eaten on site.
The menu expanded with increasingly ambitious dishes and moved over the road to bigger premises in 2013, with the name becoming Proloco DOL, as Mancino’s idea for a true Lazio restaurant crystallised.
The clue’s in the name: DOL – Mancino’s registered trademark – recalls the DOP and DOC classifications of Made in Italy food products. However, this time, DOL stands for denominazione di origine Laziale, i.e. Made in Lazio, and has since become synonymous with hundreds of wonderful food stories personally unearthed by Mancino. Pro loco, a Latin term usually applied to tourism initiatives (‘promoting the region’) completes the second half of Mancino’s idea – to celebrate Lazio food by honouring its protagonists with a restaurant and deli concept.
Let’s be clear: Mancino is a man on a mission. This is the same mad genius who set up a dairy in Rome’s maximum security prison, Rebibbia, in 2016, to train its female occupants in a (paid) meaningful trade, creating a classified cheese in the process. He’s even credited with ‘saving’ from extinction Frosinone cheese Conciato di San Vittore, a sheep’s cheese which is aged with a crust of fifteen different herbs and is now produced in the prison. Make no mistake, his wife, Elisabetta Guaglianone, is also a driving force behind the project’s success.
Lazio restaurant no. 2 & 3: Proloco Pinciano and Proloco Trastevere
The second Proloco restaurant, Proloco Pinciano, opened in 2014 just behind Piazza Fiume, a slightly more elegant affair that still stuck with the Lazio restaurant winning formula. Pizza, pasta and artful second courses shine on a well-balanced menu while Mancino’s on-site deli counter means that you can always take the good stuff home with you too.
Proloco Trastevere, which launched right at the end of 2018, replicates the Lazio restaurant idea in a cosy, multi-level venue on the quiet side of Trastevere. Great cheeses and charcuterie are never far from the table, and nor should they be: it’s a shame to visit without trying a classic board of cold cuts, while great Lazio-sourced ingredients turn up again and again in the rest of the menu, which in itself is an encyclopedia of Central Italy’s best loved recipes.
But Proloco Trastevere surprises too with excellent cocktails and cosy corners for a glass of local wine (well, you could rove further afield on this impressive list.. but why would you?) Wines include labels from the Triple A club, a scrupulous cooperative of artisan farmers which has now spread all over Europe.
Brunch at Proloco Trastevere
Proloco Trastevere has recently launched a magnificent farmer’s lunch on Sundays, a fixed-price affair which is a wonderful introduction to the Proloco Lazio restaurant philosophy. Served throughout the cool months of the year, it’s a great idea when visiting Rome in winter or early spring.
This ‘pranzo contadino’, which also represents a worthy brunch alternative, starts at 12.30 every Sunday and lasts until a very reasonable 16.00, so you can take your time. Priced at €25 for three courses plus water (other drinks excluded), it’s a great way to get to know the Proloco way, digging into some smashing ‘DOL’ Lazio ingredients and Roman recipes.
The lunch is served at the table, so while you get to admire the magnificent buffet on your way in, there are no elbow wars to pile your plate (thank goodness).
Proloco Trastevere’s Sunday lunch opens with a magnificent selection of cold cuts, tripe in tomato sauce, meatballs in sauce, ricotta cheese, conserved vegetables and a dish of warming ribollita, a magical Central Italian dish of white beans, Tuscan kale, stale bread and vegetables which combines into a thick pottage. The antipasti round also includes unleaved pizza stuffed with refried greens, and spread with homemade hummus.
In case you’re trying to judge portion sizes, this is the largest serving of the three courses, so it’s definitely worth going to town and wiping your plate at the end of it. The second course is a savoury dish of your choice from the seasonal menu. Including hearty pasta dishes and meat second courses, I plumped for a warming dish of stracciatella – an egg drop soup typical of Central Italy made from a base of chicken broth. This was cosy perfection!
The lunch rounds out with a dessert – I went for the autumn classic of castagnaccio, combining chestnuts, raisins and pinenuts (with a lucious dollop of cream). Look out too for wine cookies as an alternative sweet treat.
Proloco Trastevere: great for dinner too
Lazio restaurant Proloco Trastevere doesn’t disappoint if you prefer a wholly a la carte approach. I went back a couple of weeks later for a wow dinner, which also underlined that elegance and panache is also a part of the Proloco way of dining.
Check out this beef tongue, cooking in Proloco’s wonderful charcoal Josper oven, with white cabbage and parsley mayo. The dish was paired with a gin cocktail infused with rocket, liquorice and citron – absolutely divine.
I also tried a couple of pasta dishes, including Jerusalem artichoke and potato ravioli, served with fresh artichoke – a beautiful balance of texture with a hint of woody bitterness.
These typically Tuscan pici pasta cables were combined with anchovies, breadcrumbs, and a house-classic – butter infused with blue-cheese spores (an unbelievable combo of creamy sweetness and cheesy kick). The Proloco carbonara, made from crispy bacon, also shouldn’t be missed.
Lazio restaurant Proloco Trastevere always has something to teach me. Co-owner Elisabetta recommended that I tried the famous pig-sheep crossbreed, mangalica. Combined with apple sauce, it was a thing of tender, juicy goodness, cured with just the right amount of salt. (I just had a tasting portion for the purpose of this review, so yours will be bigger!)
I have nothing negative to say about Proloco Trastevere – I love the ethos, the food and the experience, and believe Mancino’s Lazio restaurant concept simply has to be tried to be believed. Highly recommended.
Testaccina was a guest of Proloco Trastevere
Proloco Trastevere | Via Goffredo Mameli 23 | Tel 0039 0645596137