Traditional Roman cuisine is a compelling mix of Italian ingenuity and seasonal ingredients. And the best thing about visiting Rome is the fact that there are plenty of great, Roman trattorias or osterias which still serve the real deal, like Fratelli Mori in the Ostiense district.
Formerly known as 900, this cheerful, cavernous restaurant specialises in both pasta dishes and pizza, as well as quality second course dishes – meat and fish – plus sumptuous desserts.
It’s easy to reach too – located near the Piramide metro stop, it’s a short walk from Testaccio, from Roma Ostiense station, and just four stops away from Roma Termini.
If you’re visiting Rome on holiday, it’s essential to get out of the historical centre and see how locals live and eat – and Fratelli Mori, run by two charismatic brothers, is a great place to start.
The restaurant is spacious, with different dining areas, including a pleasant area near the front of house featuring a table top entirely fashioned from vintage wine cases. If that doesn’t put you in the mood to eat and drink, I don’t know what will!
If you want to explore real Roman cuisine, I advise you to start with a classic opening dish – deep fried zucchini flowers, filled with mozzarella cheese and a sliver of salty anchovy or taleggio cheese (€3 a piece). The magic happens in the frying pan, where the soft interior starts to melt, creating all kinds of gooey wonderfulness when you bite into the crisp, light fried exterior.
I mentioned that Fratelli Mori excels in seasonal dishes, so if you visit Rome in the spring or early summer, look out for this dish, Vignarola. Inspired by spring vegetables, including broad beans, peas and artichokes, it’s usually topped with a sprinkling of local Pecorino Romano cheese and can also feature slivers of pig cheek, known as guanciale. It’s a great example of how to make vegetables taste divine, and is a tasty and healthy start to your meal.
Next, you won’t want to miss an exceptional pasta dish when visiting Fratelli Mori. The classics of Roman cuisine here include tonnarelli cacio e pepe (€10), Pecorino Romano cheese with lashings of black pepper, pictured above, as well as the world-famous carbonara (€9, pictured below), made with pig cheek and freshly grated hard cheese. Fratelli Mori include a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano cheese in their first courses, which takes the edge off the excessive salt contributed typically by Pecorino Romano, and makes this carbonara a real winner in our eyes.
Fratelli Mori is a great place to explore classic Roman second course dishes, with an emphasis on meat. Try succulent slices of lamb cooked at low temperatures, known as tagliata d’agnello (€16), served with a rocket salad and slices of braised artichoke.
These handsome, breaded polpette – boiled beef meatballs – are ideal if you’re looking for a slightly lighter alternative. Ground meat is dusted in bread crumbs and fried, before being served with a tangy homemade horseradish sauce (€15).
There’s also a sensational pig cheek steak – guancia di maialino (€16), pictured below, served with shallots and slowly braised at low temperatures.
I haven’t mentioned the pizzas yet, but Fratelli Mori is a great spot to choose when half of your dining party want good pizzas, and half are looking for pasta or meat dishes. The pizzas are excellent quality here and including the usual range of toppings. They’re priced between €8 and €12, which is also great value.
All good things must come to an end, but the divine dessert menu is the best way to finish things off here. Fratelli Mori in fact serves one of my favourite desserts in Rome – a ricotta based dish known as Ricotta di Ambrogio, pictured above. This is made with creamy buffalo ricotta, an orange peel marmalade, and caramelised pistachio nuts. I defy you to find a better combination of flavours.
Other dessert favourites include the tiramisu in a tea-cup, or why not try a black cherry tart. Whichever way you play it, Fratelli Mori is triumph for groups of all tastes, as even picky eaters will find something to like here.
Osteria Fratelli Mori | via dei Conciatori 10 | Roma | Tel 331 323 4399
Testaccina was a guest of Fratelli Mori