Our expectations for our first meal in Italy were perhaps a little high, and we didn’t really give Arturo’s enough of a chance to knock our socks off, but we weren’t overly impressed by the food. Service, value and atmosphere, however, were excellent.
At the end of the driveway to the Crowne Plaza St James, and about 50 metres to the right, Arturo’s is a huge family-run restaurant. It has a very warm, welcoming feel to it, and is spaciously set out. We sat outside on the patio, with beautiful outdoor lighting. It was really exciting being there in Rome for the first time.
I ordered the margherita pizza, perhaps putting too much stock in the simplicity of food being touted by the pretentious celebrity chefs back home. It was fine, good even, but I wasn’t blown away by the intense flavours of fresh Italian ingredients, as I was expecting. That would have to wait for a cold slice of the same in Florence a few days later. My wife had the mushroom pasta, which admittedly was quite tasty, and she really enjoyed. Unfortunately a dodgy mushroom snuck past the chefs backstage, and the texture of the “snot mushroom” nearly had me wearing my wife’s dinner. While she kept it down, it did take the shine off the apple. Arturo’s menu is heavily laden with seafood, and judging by the reactions of the people around us at the other tables, I think that’s where you need to aim your fork.
The waiter was friendly enough, but obviously busy. However, Arturo’s daughter was just lovely, chatting to us as we paid the very reasonable bill of only 32e ($40). Arturo himself was a bit of a character, trying to engage us with the few things he knew about Australia in broken English. While he earned an embarrassed eye roll from his daughter, we found it really charming.
If you’re staying at the Crowne Plaza, then Arturo’s is not only worth a try, it’s an absolute must. And if you’ve eaten at the hotel, you’ll understand why. Otherwise, a 15e ($20) taxi ride from the city centre will get you there, and the cab rank outside the hotel will get you back.
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