Checchino-dal-1887 as stated, started cooking the noble fifth quarter back in 1887 and is still run by the same family five generations on. That's 122 years of offal cooking experience. Should be good by now then.
When we arrived in the the old slaughterhouse district we quickly found the restaurant and just as quickly were told they did not open for another half an hour. A waiter said we could sit at one of the outside tables as they finished setting up and brought us some water and the menu to peruse.
As a guy who has to order offal if it's on the menu, I didn't know where to start the menu was ninety percent offal, my heads going to explode. After not too long a wait we're ushered into the dining room by our very formal white coated waiter. Having previewed the menu it was quickly on to a couple of campari and sodas and straight onto the good stuff.
First; Testina di Vitello, a terrine of calves head, boiled, boned, dressed with lemon and spices and pressed before being thinly sliced and dressed with a generous splash of olive oil as well as a good whack of tapenade. A whole lot of deliciousness, the ultra richness of the calf gelatin cut nicely with the lemon and olive oil.
Next up; Insalada di Zampi, a salad of veal trotter, again boiled and boned before being tossed all warm and gelatinous with beans, braised carrots and celery and a wicked salsa verde.
The meat was delicate and oh so rich, the salsa, tart and zippy. It was a salad that was hard to pause eating.
As we finished off of campari's we moved on to a bottle of wine, with each bottle order a marble topped trolley is wheeled to the table, glasses and bottle brought to the trolley, opened tasted and poured. Really cool and it happened the same for the guy drinking the stupidly expensive bottle next to us as our little half bottle. No predigious here.
Keeping in the offaly theme the next dish was a real doozy. Rigatone con Pajata. This was Rigatone (obviously) in a tomato sauce with milk fed lambs intestines. The key apparently is to not wash the intestines so they still contain the milk whey from mum. The plate arrived and at first it looked like a plate of pasta with some fat worms on top. Then the first taste, it was like eating tiny sheep's milk cheese sausages - oh so good! Oh how I praise the genius/lazy chef who first served unwashed lambs intestines.
When my new found favourite pasta had disappeared (all too fast) we got to the tail of this matter. Coda all Vaccinara or oxtail braised with pine nuts raisins and chocolate. A small oval plate with two giant pieces of tail all covered in the pine-nutty, chocolate infused sauce. This just looked rich from the start (so much richness from such poor food) we were beginning to think we may have over extended ourselves here.
Luckily we had a plate of Abbacchio all cacciatora, baby lamb braised in white wine, wine vinegar, rosemary and red pepper to chase it down. No kidding really. The lamb was oh-so-tender and the the flavors delicate. Along with the chicory sauteed with garlic and pepper it did well to take an edge off the mega rich meal we had just had.
After a small sit Kat took a wander over to the cheese trolleys (one for stinkies and one for the rest) to see if there might be any thing that took our fancy. Our fancy was took by a beautiful slab of Gorgonzola drizzled with honey and accompanied by a glass of masala.
Just quietly we might have also had a Torta stracciatella; chocolate ricotta and almond cake, with a quite odd chocolate drizzle around the plate, and an orange semifreddo. Both quite tasty.
After the twin efforts of eating such a feast and absorbing all that history, we really felt like we earned our siesta that day.....
Checchino since 1887
Via di Monte Testaccio, 30 00153 Rome
T: 0039 065743816 / 0039 065746318
Lunch; 12:30 to 3pm, last orders 2:45
Dinner; 8pm to midnight, last orders 11:45
closed Sunday and Monday
closed in August and one week between Christmas and New Year's Eve