This last, quite spontaneous trip to Rome came with a mission.
I wanted to find the best wine bar in the city.
I did my research, perusing the listicles (that’s a list masquerading as an article) and took plenty of notes. Some I loved. Some will never see me again. And some I found all by myself.
Il Goccetto: Day one fresh off the plane – couldn’t waste any time to begin my search. It was complicated by the fact that almost every Roman establishment has recognized that adding the words “Wine Bar” to outdoor advertising is a big draw.
Not too far from Piazza Navona – in an area peppered with antique shops and historic apartment buildings, Il Goccetto looks fairly innocuous from the outside. It doesn’t even have a real sign.
It’s more of a marker for people who know what they are looking for.
Once inside, you know exactly what they are looking for….a wine lover’s paradise. Shelf after shelf is stacked with interesting wines. There is a cornucopia of wines by the glass to try, mostly Italian. We started with a Bolgheri 2012 Argentiera. And note the price, 4 Euros (about $5.30 CDN) for a Nero D’Avola to 12 Euros (about $18 CDN) for a generous glass of top notch Barolo. Sigh. When was the last time you got a great glass of wine for $5? We met other wine store owners from Rome, wine lovers from Paris and the best part, locals who gradually made their way in with kids, or without – for a glass of wine and conversation. Five stars.Il Goccetto, Via del Banchi Vecchi 14, Rome
Mimi e Coco – the names are the equivalent of Laurel and Hardy in Italy.
This is either your favourite place to end the night – or your musical nightmare. Along with a fun selection of wine, helpful and most upbeat servers Renata and Lorenzo during the day and Sommelier Serafino at night, there is a steady stream of 80’s hits mixed with the odd Italian pop song.
Serafino even sang along to Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. Along with a great voice, he made some terrific recommendations, including a red from Lazio, a region typically known for whites.
We LOVED the suggestion and the service and would absolutely return for some vintage Barry Manilow along with my wine.
Mimi e Coco, Via del Governo Vecchio 72, Rome
Cul-De-Sac – Down the street from Mimi e Coco is one serious wine bar. All the big names are here, along with some tasty unknowns. 1400 wines, 30 by the glass. I found this place last year and it was as great as I remember it. Situated in a Piazza, you can watch the world go by as government workers and tourists stroll the street.
We tried a Ziggurat Montefalco Riserva 2010 from Umbria and a Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva from Cantina Tollo – both full-bodied – excellent recommendations. Since we had reached our quota of wines to bring home, we bought two glasses.
Piazza Pasquino 73, Rome (near Piazza Navona)
Cantina Ripagrande – This was a great find this trip. Located far from the crowds in a less-travelled part of the Trastevere district, it is a real haunt for locals who come in with or without Vespas. What it lacked in varieties by the glass, it made up in atmosphere. A church dominates the square and across the street, a coffee shop where the proprietor drops by to get himself a drink before heading back for work.
Via San Francesco a Ripa 73, Rome (Trastevere)
This is the world of La Dolce Vita, not Fellini’s masterpiece, but the embracing of life, friends, conversation and of course, vino. I certainly have much more research to do before producing the definitive guide. I am already making a list for the next visit.