The second or third day I was in Rome last month, I was on my way to Trattoria der (sic) Pallaro when I ran into some acquaintances from home. Because they are restaurant people, I asked them where they were eating, and they named the two most obvious places imaginable, places that I would only eat if I were forced to. (I was “forced” to eat at one when a friend booked it and invited me.) We wandered our separate ways.
Pallaro is in a group of buildings whose roots are in the Teatro di Pompeo, a Roman amphitheater whose shape is still evident. I discovered it one day a few years ago, and then forgot about it, but in 2018, when I was supposed to meet my friend Steve at Costanza, an old, semi-refined restaurant in a series of cave-like rooms that’s on the other side of the teatro structure, and Costanza was closed — as it seems to be about half the time you go there — I saw Pallaro, remembered it as being okay at least, texted Steve, and met him there. I fell in love.
Yet the restaurant is, not to put too fine a point on it, a dump: There’s a “terrace,” which is basically a plastic-wrapped bit of sidewalk, with plastic tables and chairs of the kind you get at Walmart, or wherever you get them in Italy. Inside the tables and chairs are wood, as is the paneling; the lighting is terrible and there’s nothing to alleviate the generally depressing atmosphere. The tablecloths are pleasant.
You can tell I’m not their PR agent, but it’s become one of my favorite restaurants in the world.