10 Days In Italy: A Quiet Meal At Cul de Sac

In case you missed it, here are the previous and upcoming posts about our summer trip to Italy:

On our first trip to Rome, Michelle and I discovered this quiet little restaurant not far from Piazza Navona and it quickly became a favorite for us.  It was down a quiet side street from the bustle of the Piazza and it was never hard to get a table.  On a subsequent trip, we showed up to find the restaurant completely mobbed with people, an issue since there are only 4 or 5 tables outside where you really want to sit.  When we got back from that trip, I was flipping through a copy of Wine Spectator at work (this was back when I was in the hotel industry), and noted that the restaurant had been written up as a place to find great wine in Rome.  Our secret had been discovered!

Things have died down a bit now, but it’s still a lot harder to find a table than it used to be.  We discovered this time that Cul de Sac has been around almost as long as we have, open since 1977.  When we arrived all of the outside tables were occupied so we loitered for a few minutes waiting for one to open up.  Inside is fine, but we enjoy watching the world go by.  On a summer day with a bit of a breeze, it’s a pleasant place to enjoy a meal.

Days In Italy

Our “meals” have always consisted of the same things each time we go.  We focus on local meats and cheeses and sample different local wines to accompany them.  That, and a healthy helping of fresh, crusty bread is all we need.  As you can see from the picture of the bread basket, part of the reason it was a quiet meal is Charlie had decided he was just way too tired and passed out in his stroller waiting for a dinner table.  One of the things we’ve learned while traveling with our kids over the years is to have backup plans.  Whether it’s a midday nap at the hotel to rejuvenate little ones (and parents!) or the stroller nap when the late afternoon is too much to stay awake for, our kids enjoy vacations the most when they can crash for a nap when they need to.

Days In Italy


There is literally nothing fancy about Cul de Sac.  You’re there for the food and wine.  The menu lists dozens of choices without much in the way of explanation but the servers can help educate you on any items.

Days In Italy

We chose some San Daniele ham, Calabrian dried pork loin as well as a fish carpaccio.  For cheeses, we enjoyed Michelle’s favorite cheese, Taleggio, once again.  To that, we added Caciocavallo, a hard cheese not too dissimilar to a Reggiano.  Rounding it out was some Pecorino, another hard cheese synonymous with Parmesan to us American folk, and a cheese the server recommended called Recco.  We took recommendations for a handful of wines by the glass and enjoyed ourselves.  The wine list is very broad with many wines we discovered there over the years. I would definitely encourage you to explore and try something new.  The servers are very knowledgeable about the list and can match something up to your taste.  And, for those traveling with kids, don’t worry.  They can even whip up a little plain spaghetti.

Days In Italy

Days In Italy

Days In Italy

We’ve been dining at Cul de Sac each time we’ve been to Rome for the past ten years and always enjoy it.  You don’t need to get dressed up, and reserving a table outside isn’t something you can do.  But, if you’re in Rome and near Piazza Navona, take a stroll down the small alley at the Southeast corner to Piazza di Pasquino.  You won’t be disappointed.

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  1. The correct name is “San Daniele” and not “San Danieli”, it’s another choice of the most known brand of prosciutto (ham) in Italy, as Parma. More, if you think caciocavallo (not a brand name, it’s a southern Italy cheese) is like Reggiano (the correct name is “Parmigiano Reggiano”) it was a very bad cheese, they are really different. The same with pecorino, it’s absolutely not synonymous of parmesan (a kind of cheese, not a brand despite the American way to sell it in US, probably made in New Jersey or Colorado), the two most famous brand of it are “Parmigiano Reggiano” or “Grana Padano” (both made in northern Italy, the “osso buco” is a speciality of Milan, like the “risotto”). I suggest you to check on Wikipedia to find where the many Italian cheeses are made in different places of Italy. If there is no “Italian cuisine” but many local “Italian cuisine”. Ciao 🙂

  2. Fabio, I know caciaocavallo is not a brand name, but the one we had at Cul de Sac had the same consistency as Reggiano. I also disagree with your assertion that Pecorino is not synonymous with parmesan in the US. It’s sold alongside, and marketed in the same manor, in many grocery stores and cheese shops. That’s not to say they are the same, but they’re sold somewhat interchangeably in a number of the stores I’ve shopped at over the years.

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