Our Honeymoon: My Favourite Restaurant in the World

I love food, and I adore travel, so it’s only natural that when I’m on holiday, the principal thing on my mind is scouting out the best local eateries where I can experience authentic cultural flavours and get my munch on with the locals.

One restaurant I was desperate to get to ‘when in Rome’ was the famous family-run restaurant Antica Pesa, which opened its doors in 1922 and now has restaurants in New York and our very own Doha. Now, you might remember how much I love this restaurant from my fine dining in Doha series, so I was super excited when our friend, Chef Marco Calcaterra very kindly set us up for dinner on the very first night of our honeymoon at the very location where this small but growing empire of traditional Italian trattorias all began.

Our night started at an unassuming little door along the winding road of Via Garibaldi in historic Trastevere.

Inside the building, a dark and homely interior welcomed us, along with the huge smile of restaurant manager, Alessia.

She showed us the beautiful paintings and frescoes of the Winter dining room, a space which felt more akin to a notable art gallery than an old Roman Inn.

And then we were led out to the light and airy summer terrace, where we were met by Exective Chef and owner, Simone Panella.

Simone introduced the extensive menu to us, describing the traditional methods, ingredients and passion which went into each of the dishes, and with an amuse bouche and a glass of prosecco in hand to wash it down, our meal began.

Mr Sunshine had selected a gorgeous deep and plummy Brunello Di Montalcino from the veritable tome that had been set before us.

This paired beautifully with the salty Bassiano ham with warm Mozzarella in crispy pastry which Mr S had selected from the menu to start, a dish which he has enjoyed many times more in the restaurant in Doha since our return, with the ham swapped out for bresaola.

I had decided to go for the most mysterious starter on the menu, which was simply described as ‘taking a trip to the Roman country’, and I was delighted when my course arrived at the table in a small wooden box, which was opened to reveal six small portions of traditional Roman fare.

L-R from top left: Pontecorvo vegetables and Caciofiore cheese; Porchetta; Saint Nicola’s Lard on soft, white Pizza; Lentils with Bassiano Ham; Dried pork, or ‘copietta’ with aromatic salad; Smoked Speck with Goats Cheese; Trio of Traditional Cheeses from Lazio.

I relished being able to sample some of Rome’s oldest and most revered recipes in bite-sized form, and made a mental note of which I particularly enjoyed so that I could order them again before we left the city.

I am ashamed to say that we opted for the same dishes for our primi, secondi e per finire, but we weren’t disappointed that we hadn’t sampled more options, for each dish was just as stunning and authentic as our starters had been, and this way we cut out inevitable food envy.

Our primi was traditional Spaghetti Carbonara, made with crisp and thick pancetta and heaps of creamy, eggy sauce.

Then came perfectly-cooked, tender beef with green beans and mash.

And finally, the most perfect créme brûlèe.

Somewhere in between our mains and dessert, there was a power cut on the street, and the twinkling lights in the courtyard disappeared one by one. Rapidly, candles were lit, and the waiters rushed around to check that everyone was OK.

Amidst all of the drama, which meant that many patrons dishes were delayed while they waited for the back-up generator to kick in so that power could be restored to the ovens, our waiter still managed to make time to take us down to the ancient wine cellars so that we could see for ourselves why the restaurant’s wine list is so extensive.

He even pointed out exactly where our own bottle of wine sat amongst the shelves and shelves of beautiful Italian reds!

Back in Doha over an Aperol Spritz, Chef Marco of Antica Pesa Doha provided me with an explanation of why I’d returned from honeymoon with the belief that this small chain of trattorias was my favourite place to eat in the world. “We treat our customers like friends”, he told me, “and the staff here are friends too. We came out to Doha together and we all want to educate you on what great Italian food is. You come here to have a great time, and you can only have that if we are having a great time too”.

“My inspiration for cooking was my Mama. She was cooking for about 25 people every weekend…Most of us Italians from all around the world, we’re serious about food. We like to unite with family, and food makes you realise how important it is to get together and enjoy each other’s company”.

This, in essence is what Antica Pesa is all about; it’s an extended family of relatives and friends whose exuberant passion for traditional Roman food is as contagious as their warm smiles and kind hospitality. It is no wonder that the restaurant has built a huge array of loyal customers, including many big names and celebrities, all of which have contributed to almost a century of success across three continents.

For now, Mr Sunshine and I will continue to enjoy the fact that we are lucky enough to have an Antica Pesa on our doorstep.

Next up on the wishlist, Antica Pesa, Brooklyn NYC.

Do you have a favourite restaurant that you have discovered on your travels? What makes it stand out from all the rest?

I am posting this as part of the monthly Travel Link-Up. This month it’s all about your favourite things. If you would like to join in, head over to KellyRebeccaEmma or Frankie’s blogs and link-up your post!

We were guests of Antica Pesa Rome this time, but as always, I only write honest reviews, regardless.


  1. November 6, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    Oh Polly, it all looks incredible! What a fab way to start your honeymoon!

    C x | Lux Life

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:41 pm

      Thanks, it was pretty amazing! We were so lucky that we were able to come back and have a version of the meal all over again at Antica Pesa Doha 🙂

      Polly xx

  2. November 6, 2015 / 7:19 pm

    Wow this looks amazing! Do they have a restaurant in London? If not definitely a place to add to my list for Italy! x

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:44 pm

      Afraid they don't have one in London (yet!) but definitely look them up next time you're in Rome, you won't regret it!

      Polly xx

  3. November 6, 2015 / 7:57 pm

    What a delicious slice of home, whilst enjoying your honeymoon!

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:44 pm

      Yeah, and now I get to enjoy a delicious slice of honeymoon now I'm back home too 🙂

      Polly xx

  4. November 6, 2015 / 8:03 pm

    Wow looks so amazing!!! So many favourites…I hate say a 'chain' place but I just love Nobu Malibu, such an incredible location! In Italy I love those little lesser known places, the food is always incredible!
    Lots of love,

    SilverSpoon London

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      Ooo, thanks Angie. I would LOVE to try Nobu Malibu. The restaurant in Doha is pretty special and making a big impact over here so I can imagine that branch is out of this world.

      Polly xx

  5. November 6, 2015 / 9:49 pm

    What a great interior and the food looks wonderful. Perfect place to spend your honneymoon Lucy x

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:46 pm

      I loved the interior as much as the food!!

      Polly xx

  6. November 7, 2015 / 8:45 am

    I like to think they named the "Winter Dining Room" after me ;). It looks stunning. (As does everything else)

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:48 pm

      Why of course it was. They heard about he artistic flair of you and your super-talented husband and were inspired 😉 All was gorgeous, if you're ever in Rome you should go!

      Polly xx

  7. November 7, 2015 / 10:19 am

    I love your starter in its wooden box – we went to Trastevere in June but didn't come across this gorgeous place

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:49 pm

      It's so tucked away, you wouldn't know about it unless you went there purposely! How gorgeous is Trastevere?! I loved it.

      Polly xx

  8. November 8, 2015 / 7:58 am

    This looks like a stunning restaurant – so fresh and yet so much history too

    • November 8, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      Yeah, the history is what made it I think – that and the friendly, family vibe 🙂

      Polly xx

  9. November 8, 2015 / 10:22 pm

    What a lovely way to present a starter and that's so kind of the chef to have arranged for you to have dined there on your first night in Rome! Nothing really beats a fantastic Italian meal I think – just so satisfying and the gorgeous views from the doha branch mean that I would be a serious regular if I was ever there!

    • November 16, 2015 / 9:51 am

      Chef Marco is soo sweet to have sorted this out for us, it was the perfect start to our trip. You would definitely love it here Shikha – you'll have to let me know if you ever fancy visiting and I'll book us in!

      Polly xx

  10. November 11, 2015 / 12:41 pm

    What an absolutely stunning restaurant and meal! I could dive into that carbonara. I love when a restaurant holds a wonderful memory 🙂 Lots of love, Andrea xxx

    Andrea's Passions

    • November 16, 2015 / 9:52 am

      Me too, it just makes it all the more special. The Carbonara was DIVINE!!

      Polly xx

  11. November 11, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    Wow I'm drooling – it looks fabulous! Definitely you will have to complete the trio now 😉

    • November 16, 2015 / 9:52 am

      Blogger trip to NYC for the occasion?!!

      Polly xx

  12. April 16, 2016 / 8:33 am

    This is a great place organize an event; they have great staff and great events put on here! I had nothing but great times and great conversations there. The venues in Chicago served slider and shrimp cakes as appetizers with chicken skewers, and eggrolls that had veggies on the inside and some kind of creamy fruit sauce on top.

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