Bone marrow with herbs at Osteria La Quercia in Rome, Italy

Osteria La Quercia in Rome

Osteria la Quercia in Rome

On a few recent trips to the city center with friends, I’ve noticed a few things about Rome. 

The first is that damn, it’s crowded.

The shoulder seasons are just about as busy as the summer now, and there doesn’t seem to be any more low season at all. Perhaps things slow down in January a bit, but even then, it’s still packed. 

Given that most tourists tend to crowd into the same areas to see the same things, this can make strolling around in the historic center a challenge, especially on the streets that lead from One Famous Thing to Another. Aaaaand, if you’re someone who generally is almost always teetering on the edge of late (*cough* me *cough*), getting stuck in a swarm of visitors or behind slow walkers is enough to make the blood boil. 

Here’s where the second thing I’ve noticed comes in. If you head one block over from the most crowded streets to a parallel one, you will often find yourself blissfully alone, or nearly alone (so that, if you’re me, you can speedwalk to your location and arrive just in the nick of time). 

Here’s the third thing. Some of these quiet little parallels might lead to a cute little piazza, and some of these quiet little piazzas may be home to a great little restaurant. 

And one of these great little restaurants down a quiet little street on a cute little piazza is Osteria La Quercia.

Located in Piazza della Quercia, named for the oak tree that stands at its center, you’d never guess that the Osteria is just behind Campo de’ Fiori, one of Rome’s buzziest squares. Notably, you’ll find La Quercia on the list of Slow Food recommended restaurants in Rome, which means the food is “good, clean and fair” or, in other words, that it’s seasonal and produced locally and sustainably.

I met some friends there on a recent Sunday afternoon filled with the kind of light that sets Rome’s ochre buildings on fire and warm air that hints at springtime.

We started with two appetizers – a savory twist on a maritozzo filled with shredded pork and drizzled with mustard, and hot bone marrow with fresh and dried herbs that was to be spread on the abundant and varied slices of bread that arrived in a basket shortly after we sat down.

Savory maritozzo at Osteria La Quercia in Rome, Italy
A salty take on Rome’s maritozzo

We drew the bone marrow out with spoons, gingerly at first and then with more gusto after our first bites. The dried herbs broke through the marrow’s meat and oil, flooding each bite with licorice and grass.

Bone marrow with herbs at Osteria La Quercia in Rome, Italy

Next came the pasta. There are a few things that I immediately know I’m going to order if I see them on a menu. The first is anything with chicken giblets, and the second is genovese, a Neapolitan pasta dish made with caramelized onions and slow-cooked beef. When I saw that they had genovese at La Quercia, I closed the menu. Sold. Easy. Done. I also tasted my friend’s carbonara, which was stellar, as I’m sure all of the core four Roman pastas are at La Quercia, and my other friend’s gnocchi al cime di rapa, a mixture of earthiness and soft clouds of pasta.

This genovese was a spectacular one, with seemingly an equal amount of onion and beef. I’ve had thinner versions, with way more onion than beef, and I’ve not liked them as much. I’ve also had heartier takes made with an entire cow, and I must say that I’m quite a big fan of those, however, this one was fit for Goldilocks – just right.

I opted to split a plate of cicoria ripassata with a friend for a little greenery, and it too was excellent.

Ziti alla genovese and cicoria ripassata at Osteria La Quercia in Rome, Italy

The staff was just as pleasant as the setting and the meal. They were courteous and attentive and made me want to come back just as much as the food did.

The one issue with my meal at La Quercia was a personal one – we decided not to have dessert. I will be back to try the apple tart, though.

I leave you with two pieces of advice: one, book a table at La Quercia for an excellent lunch in Rome’s city center, and two: the next time you find yourself on a very crowded Roman street, don’t be afraid to stray to a quiet little parallel. Your walk will almost certainly be more pleasant, and you might just find a cute little piazza that’s home to a great little restaurant.

Osteria La Quercia

Piazza della Quercia 23

Call 06 6830 0932 to book, or email info@osterialaquercia.com (note that requests for reservations via email must be confirmed by the restaurant, they’re not automatic). Remember to ask for an outdoor table if you want to enjoy the square.

Open 12:00-3:30pm for lunch and 7-11:30pm for dinner.

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