By Andrea Zachrich

Hostaria Antica Roma is an awesome restaurant we went to as a group after we visited the Catacombs de Domitilla on the outskirts of Rome, and I have a lot of good things to say about it. All of the food was delicious and it was definitely the best service we had while in Rome (also, it has air conditioning). I would for sure go again the next time I’m in Rome.

The Location

The restaurant is actually in a very cool location. It’s right across the street from and in the shadow of the tomb of Cecelia Metella, which is a large cylindrical tomb along the Via Appia (one of the largest roads leading into and out of the city of ancient Rome). It was a tomb built by a wealthy woman for herself in the 1st century BC, probably during the time of Augustus. She was the daughter of a consul and married quaestor (both very high positions in the Roman government), but she built this tomb all for herself without her family. Some of the original decorations around the outside still survive. In the middle ages, the tomb was turned into a fort and used as a toll station by the family who owned it. Nowadays, it’s a museum and you can go inside of the tomb. Below I’ve included some pictures of the tomb.

The Food

The food here was absolutely amazing. We did a group lunch, so it came with appetizers and dessert. I cannot say enough good things about the appetizers. First off, there was a ton of food. There was a meat platter and grilled veggies and an amazing garlic cheese spread and bread and fish and olives – literally so much food. I was nearly full by the time our entrees came.

One of the appetizers – the meat platter

We got to pick from about 10 selections for our main dish. Personally, I was really excited because the food was based off of ancient recipes from a cook named Apicius. During the spring quarter right before this class, I had actually taken a class about ancient food and medicine and had made some recipes from the same cookbook as part of a final project. I immediately emailed my professor about it because I was stoked. I got a lasagna based on an Apicius recipe, and it was very unique because it did not have any red sauce. Even though tomatoes are a staple of Italian cooking now, the ancient Romans did not have them because they are a crop from the new world. As such, this lasagna was made of noodles, cheese, meat, and had some fennel in it. It was tasty.

The Lasagna! I know it’s kind of funky looking but it was delicious

For dessert, we also go to pick from a limited menu. Our table got tiramisu and chocolate mousse, and both were delicious. I would recommend either (or both if you’re feeling ambitious).


The Experience

A big part of the reason this was one of my favorite meals in Rome was because the waiter, Paulo, really did a great job. I’ve worked as a server, and I know how hard it can be to interact with tables. He told us all about the history of the restaurant (which is owned by his father) and knew a lot about the history of the tomb across the street. He was also very knowledgeable about the recipes from Apicius. He told a lot of cheesy jokes and put everyone in a good mood, which I can appreciate. Plus, the food came out incredibly fast. The entrees were ready for a table of around 20 almost immediately after we had finished our appetizers. This place is really a smoothly run restaurant with great service.

The only bad thing I could possibly say about this meal was that it was one of the more expensive I had in Rome, but I think it was worth it. If I remember correctly, it was just under 30 euros, which isn’t horrible considering the massive amounts of food we got. If you’re an adult with a real job and not a broke college student, the price would be super fine for a vacation lunch or dinner.

Overall, this place was amazing. It has unique entrees, good appetizers, great service, and is in a really cool location.