In the midst of Piazza di Spagna along Via Mario dei Fiori among some of Rome's swankiest shopping district (and stinkiest, too), is this gem of a restaurant that boasts good food and a lively crowd. Just ask the friendly Bulgarian couple on the adjacent table who've eaten all their 5 Roman dinners in this restaurant (and it was their last night).
I really liked the pacheri (short pasta) with squid black ink sauce - the pasta was perfect, the squid undeniably fresh; just don't try to smile after enjoying this dish. For mains, I had grilled mixed seafood. Again, the freshness was undeniable, the sweetness of the crustacean mingling beautifully with the buttery, peppery and salty flavors. The dessert did not disappoint either. The panacotta with wild berries was luscious, creamy with the berries offering a contrasting tangy boost. Service was attentive and friendly.
Al 34 is one of my favorite places to take people our first night in Rome, especially if they're suffering from jet lag. They open at 7:30, the food is quite good, prices are very reasonable, the interior is charming, and the service is efficient. If you want, you can eat and get out in an hour. But if you want to linger, you can do that, too. It's very close to the Piazza di Spagna, and less than a 10 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain (which I recommend for an after dinner walk.)
This is a very popular place, so be sure to make a reservation.
Favorite Dish: Risotto alle erbe (risotto with herbs and spinach). It is incredibly good! Match it with an insalata verde (green salad) or prusciuto e melone, or caprese (tomato, fresh buffala mozzarella and fresh basil salad), and you've got a fabulous meal. Add a carafe of house wine and a glass of limoncello for "un digestivo" and you've got a total Italian experience.
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