If I told you that Trattoria Pennestri was located in the Ostiense district, just a stone’s throw from Testaccio and Garbatella, you’d be forgiven for expecting robust Roman cuisine and no-nonsense interior decor.
But this restaurant is much more interesting, taking its inspiration from the best Roman and Italian traditions, before exploring them with refined dishes that lead with seasonal ingredients yet largely defy expectations. In a beautifully appointed dining room, Trattoria Pennestri also gets the atmosphere just right.
Trattoria Pennestri launched just over a year ago, as the brainchild of Italian-Danish chef Tommaso Pennestri and Argentinian sommelier and maitre’d Valeria Payero. The result is never boring, while tipping its cap to local food heritage in a fun and delicious way.
The cute, shabby-chic dining room is set off from the main via Ostiense behind a soberly painted facade with large windows.
Dining is all about the details and interiors are no exception, so you’ll love Trattoria Pennestri for an informal date or night with friends. It gets the mood just right.
I hit the jackpot with my opening choice – this sensational homemade bresaola – actually, fine sheets of rare horse meat – served with fresh figs. Other starters include rabbit, poached egg and lamb offal, demonstrating a real range but largely priced under €10.
A blogging colleague had warned me about the sensational first courses, and above all, THIS dish (pictured above). Homemade flour and water gnocchi are combined with a puree of scampi, plus a swirl of melted stracciatella. Believe me, it’s worth visiting Trattoria Pennestri just to try this incredible combination of flavours.
First course dishes range from €11 to €13 and include a good selection of pasta dishes featuring seasonal ingredients.
I next moved onto my main dish – a succulent slice of amberjack complimented by an intense tomato and olive sauce. This was on the specials menu so you might not always find it when you visit Trattoria Pennestri.
My dining partner went for a beautifully cooked roast suckling pig, seasoned with juniper, apple chutney and served with seasonal vegetables. The crackling crunch contrasted beautifully with the succulent meat. Second course dishes range from €11-€16 and include duck, tripe and lamb as well.
Rounding off the meal, I plumped for a frankly-illegal artisan creme caramel. No ready-made caramel sauce here, but a sticky disc of pure sugar toffee. Just check out this video I posted on Instagram:
All in all, Trattoria Pennestri is a sensational experience and the perfect restaurant for a special occasion or a mid-week treat. It can be difficult to break into the hegemony of traditional trattorias in Rome, but Pennestri is doing it with some style, and above all, a pleasing originality. Highly recommended.
Testaccina was a guest of Trattoria Pennestri
Via Giovanni da Empoli 5 | Rome | Tel +39 065742418 | Closed Mondays, open for lunch as well Friday-Sunday