We just had to visit Da Pancrazio as it is sited within the structure of the Theater of Pompey. It's been on my to-do list for five years or more. When we showed up (and it's not all that easy to find, even with cell-phone mapping) we had hoped to be seated in the cellar dining area built into the remains of Pompey's great theater but whatever crowds this set of large dining rooms was intended to hold, the cellar was filled with empty tables for which no happy diners existed.
Our waiter told us we could go down and inspect this relic of Caesar's great adversary, the man who brought the Romans into Middle Eastern politics, cleared the seas of pirates and, eventually, built the massive theater that bears his name, the first permanent theater in Rome. In all fairness, the vaulting, some bearing traces of fresco decoration, was of great interest if you like to explore Roman-era brick-piles as we do. But Pompey Magnus bit the dust 2,000 years ago and we were there to eat so we ventured to sit down and make an attempt to dine.
It would be folly to call this "dining" and whatever panache the place once may have had it is now strictly a tourist joint. Every party in the modest upstairs dining room was comprised of Americans, and what Americans! It is no fault of the management that some loudmouth raconteur assailed our ears throughout, and it may have somewhat diminished our appreciation of the food we received, but in fact even discounting for the Burdick and Lederer ambiance, this place is tired out, lacks basic restaurant skills and should be avoided.
What could be slower than the pace of our mediocre repast? And to wait and wait for what? Perhaps the worst Cacio e Pepe (pasta with peccorino and ground pepper, a basic Roman dish) I have ever eaten, heck our first home-brew efforts at working up this dish were better. A plate with fried zucchini flowers, cheese and anchovies came off better but, well they were too oily: We've had better, plenty. What took 25 minutes to produce this soggy pasta and oily fried food, I cannot essay a guess.
We then waited again, for what seemed like an eternity, until our fish (a special of the day!) finally arrived. Perhaps they had to send out for it? A sea bass filet soaked in melted butter served "almandine" style. Fine, not spoiled or anything but entirely pedestrian and involving the inexplicable delay. We couldn't wait to pay and go.
So as I said at the time, "Take a good look around, you won't be eating here again." Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
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