The Roman neighbourhood of Trastevere is always a good idea, and new Pizza and Roman fish restaurant, Peppo al Cosimato, combines two apparently contrasting dinner choices whilst providing ample charm and value for money.
Did you know that sustainable, cheap fish is a staple of Roman cuisine? Now you do! The sea isn’t that far away and with ample lakes and rivers around the city, traditional Roman dishes – just as with offal – display mastery in the use of pesce povera – literally, poor fish – often smaller but flavourful species which work layered with the right vegetables and spices.
You will often find elements of this in loads of Roman restaurants – perhaps marinated anchovies as a starter, or that wonderful winter trattoria dish of skate soup (brodo di arzilla) with Roman broccoli (look out for this on Fridays – simply incredible).
Peppo al Cosimato combines a range of affordable fish dishes, as well as firing up a pizza oven to provide excellent, deep-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas, home-baked bread and fried goodies.
While we perused the menu, we started with a plain pizza – brushed with olive oil and a sprinkling of rosemary – the best way to gauge the quality of a pizza oven. The dough was fragrant and soft with a pleasant crisp exterior, yielding to a nice, soft tear.
The antipasti or starter menu at Peppo al Cosimato has lots of fun fish options at good prices. Order a selection of fritti – including fried rice balls and potato croquettes – for a very reasonable €5. These comprise a wonderful rice ball combined with squid and squid ink – pictured above – as well as another mixed with a seafood and tomato sauce, squid balls and potato and baccala croquettes.
Next we tried a couple of bruschette. These were topped with marinated anchovies, curly lettuce and stracciatella. Seafood and tomato sauce versions, plus mackerel with red onion and tomatoes mean that there’s something for everyone at Peppo al Cosimato. A pair are priced at €5.
One of the nicest things about Peppo al Cosimato is the easy, informal style of dining. Look at this superb fisherman’s sandwich, made from fragrant, salt-encrusted home-baked bread.
Inside, this sandwich combines seasonal vegetables and sauteed pieces of fish. It is priced at a reasonable €10 and is a second-course option for light appetites.
The pizza menu at Peppo al Cosimato is good value and fabulous – it’s gone straight to the upper echelons of my list of go-to pizzerias in Trastevere. The basic Marinara – with tomato sauce and anchovies – costs a spot-on €6.50. We shared a Napoli, with San Marzano tomatoes, Agerola mozzarella, anchovies and basil (€9.50). There are a few more ‘loaded’ options but prices don’t exceed €14.
It was time to move onto the pasta course, which includes a seafood lasagne (€10), as well as the robust classic of spaghetti with butter, anchovies and chili pepper (€14). We shared a handsome dish with yellow and red tomatoes tossed with pieces of fish. Excellent stuff (€14).
We still had room to explore the second course menu, plumping for pan-fried baccala with creamed chickpeas. A classic poor dish, it was a triumph of flavours and extremely satisfying (€16).
Dinner was almost over but we wanted to taste some sweet treats, trying a homemade tiramisu and this lovely plate of toasted bread, butter and jam. The salted butter was just melting on the wood-fired bread and this astonishingly good, grandma-made pumpkin jam was homely heaven.
Overall, my impressions were really good of this charming restaurant, which combines keen prices with an original concept.
Testaccina was a guest of Peppo al Cosimato
Via Natale del Grande, 9 | 00153 Rome | Tel 0039 06 581 2048 | Closed Mondays