Dining out on Filetti di Baccalà near Campo dei Fiori:
This eatery next to Campo dei Fiori seems to get more popular each time we visit, with long queues of locals and visitors trying to get a table each night.
As there are a lot of people wanting to dine here tonight, the guy organizing the ‘reservations‘ scribbles our name on a make-shift bookings list. He estimates that there’s a 20-minute wait so you either hang around and wait for your name to come up or you can do some window-shopping in via dei Giubbonari where there are lots of interesting shops, or stroll into Campo dei Fiori. The square itself is bustling with activity in the evenings, so having to kill 20 minutes is not a hardship.
We get our table on the dot of the advised 20-minute wait and are grateful that we’re able to get in on this busy weekend evening. The place is a hive of activity, with staff frantically taking orders, clearing tables and delivering food and drinks. They seem to be used to this pitch of activity and no one seems to be in a state of collapse.
What is Filetti di Baccalà?
Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara specializes in filetti di baccalà a Roman-style battered salted codfish and as we come here every time we’re in Rome, I’m not aware of anyone else doing this type of food in the centro storico area. You can order a variety of small dishes of food like cannellini beans, anchovies, grilled cheese and other fried foods, but people come here mainly to have the filetti di baccalà, which are pieces of salted cod fillet, coated in a thick batter and deep-fried. (Note: Just in case you’re craving for some fish and chips, they do not serve any chips here.)
We order a plate of mixed pickled mushrooms, anchovies with butter and a rocket salad to complement our filletti di baccalà. When the golden brown battered fish arrives, it is piping hot and you’re meant to wrap it in the paper provided, hold it in your hands and eat it. The fried fish goes very well with beer which you can get on tap here. At the next table, the group of young men are having a good time and dining on battered fish and beer only.
Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara, at Largo dei Librari 88, is set in a little piazza just off the Campo dei Fiori square itself. They have tables in the restaurant as well as long wooden tables outdoors which are packed, elbow to elbow with diners. The filletti di baccalà are Euro 5.00 a piece and you can also get the fried cod to take away.
If you’re used to having nice chunky fish in light beer batter from your local fish and chips shop, do not expect this at Dar Filettaro. The cooking is unsophisticated but the food is affordable and a big part of the enjoyment of eating at Dar Filettaro is the experience and atmosphere of the restaurant itself. From the look of the diners, this established Roman restaurant is obviously well-loved by the locals.