The region of Puglia, on the coast of the Adriatic sea, is known for its beautiful coastline but also for producing some of the tastiest olive oil, good wines and as an historic center for cultivating the wheat used to make pasta. Besides that, Apulian fish and seafood are literally fresh out of the ocean.
In Rome, which is also near the sea, the restaurants and trattorie that serve fish are scattered across the city but one of the most cozy is Tram Tram in the San Lorenzo neighborhood near the La Sapienza university. The bohemian working class area, is filled with small bars, wine shops and cafes that cater to both the students and the workers living there.
Rosanna – along with her sister and her daughters Fabiola and Antonella, owners of charming trattoria Tram Tram – are originally from Puglia, and they bring the spirit of their cuisine to the big city. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming plus Tram Tram stays open for Sunday lunch, which plays a big role in the Italian family dining tradition. When my son, Francesco, visits from L.A. and I don’t feel like cooking on Sunday, that’s where we go.
Obviously the majority of the specialties on the menu are sea-related and their fried anchovies, roasted sea bass and mussels are exceptional, but the menu also offers some cucina romana classics in addition to Apulian specials. Their famous fave e cicoria, a blend of pureed broad beans and chicory, are a must for all, but an especially great option for vegans. Besides the seafood there are choices for carnivores too, for example a delicious tartare that is made out of prized fassone beef, which comes from Piedmont, in northwestern Italy, then dressed with Apulian olive oil, cherry tomatoes and olives. The pastas like orecchiette (little ears), a Puglia classic, are excellent as well as spaghetti with prawns or a Mediterranean-inspired linguine with grouper, capers, olives and wild fennel.
The menu changes according to the seasons, as it should, so you’ll find vegetables like Romanesco broccoli and puntarelle in late autumn/winter, then the carciofi cimaroli, local artichokes, which start appearing through spring, when glorious asparagus arrive. The wine list at Tram Tram is serious, with a good selection from Puglia but also from near Rome and other areas of Italy. The service is courteous and the owners make sure everyone is happy and eating well.
On Sunday the place is filled with families: children, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and the last time I was there with Francesco, the butcher who provides all the meat for the restaurant was sitting at the next table with his family. Truly Italian style, we struck up a conversation about food, eating well, meat, life and the neighborhood. It was like being at home with friends and family without having to cook or clean up. Happiness!
Via dei Reti 46
Tel. +39 06 490416
Elizabeth Janus is a passionate traveller, and makes it a point to peruse the farmer’s markets in every place she visits to get an immediate pulse of the city. For the last decade, she has been guiding discerning clients on food adventures at farmer’s markets, speciality shops and into her home for unique Italian meals to experience Italy as an Italian..