Papa Baccus is rated as a "Quite comfortable restaurant" by Michelin, you can expect good food and service without the stuffiness and splurge of a starred restaurant. It's also located within close walking distance (5-10 minutes) to the Grand Flora on Via Toscana.
While most restaurants in the area are similar, Papa Baccus is different in that it specializes in Tuscan cuisine. The restaurant also prides itself in using Cinta Senese pigs and even makes their own bacon. The restaurant also has a very extensive wine selection, though we did not partake. Service is also quite good here, but that's no surprise given the Michelin rating. The only thing that might bother some (aside from the bread fee) is the somewhat small portion size when compared to other nearby establishments and the fact that the bill states "service fee not included."
So how's the food? Like many places, you'll be served bread with oil and vinegar. Whether you eat the bread or not, you will be charged for it, so you might as well go for it. The bread here is actually pretty good, though it's more the focaccia and roll type that's good, not so much for the sliced bread... but what's even more special is the balsamic vinegar! It has a thick consistency with a nice, balanced flavor that's on the sweeter side rather than the acidic. This is good quality stuff and I nearly filled up on bread because of it! But be sure to save room for the food too, as it is good! On our one and only visit here, my wife and I skipped the appetizers and went straight for the pasta. I ordered the spaghetti with clams & bottarga, while she ordered their amatriciana.
The spaghetti with clams & bottarga was a good, lighter dish with an olive oil based sauce. It has a nice briny, herby, salty flavor with a little heat. On the other hand, the amatriciana here is heavier and a little on the salty side, but still good. Lot's of bacon in this one since they do make it themselves.
After our pastas, the wife and I decided to split a secondi. Since it's porcini season, we decided to order the Piedmont steak and fresh porcini mushroom dish. This dish was delicious, especially the porcini mushrooms! The beef was also good, but it was a little tough and could have used some salt. Next time I think I'll order the dish that's purely porcinis! These mushrooms make the rainy weather worth it to visit this time of year! Another reason to visit are truffles. In fact, the restaurant had a special white truffle menu too to take advantage of the availability of fresh Alba truffles! We unfortunately didn't order any of these, but will if we ever get a chance to do so here again!
Too full for desert, we stopped here. Our grand total (including bottle water, bread fee, and tip) came out to about $110. Worth every penny! If you're in the area and am looking for a great dinner without breaking the bank, check out Papa Baccus! I will definitely be back if I ever make it back to Rome!
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