The plan when we went out this morning to run a few errands was to come right back home to make a light lunch. Our errands took us right past the Ovile Restaurant and it immediately triggered an almost primal desire for some hearty Roman comfort food. For me that spells pasta all'amatriciana.
Errands finished it was already past one o'clock and the day gray and drizzling so we pulled into the Ovile restaurant parking area. The plan was for a quick but satisfying plate of pasta. We had, after all, been out for a late dinner just the night before and another big meal wasn't what we had in mind.
L'Ovile has just about the best wood burning grill I know of. It's huge and easily accommodates grilling meats, potatoes and vegetables, and pots of beans and other dishes. It's rustic and beautiful.
When we arrived I saw the potatoes cooking and abbacchio scottadito (lamb cutlets) on the grill and knew the pasta alone wouldn't do it for me. Although it's not the usual to have fettuccine with amatriciana sauce, the owner's mom had made them this morning so I went with the fettuccine; Maurizio had the polenta with a rich tomato sauce and pork ribs.
We then segued right into the lamb and potatoes, with a delicate green salad. There were no plans for dessert but mom had also made a fresh crostata alle viscole (wild cherry tart) so once again I succumbed.
We've been coming to the Ovile for many years and are now seeing the third generation of the family taking the reins. Initially the restaurant was run by papà; the father of the current generation. He was gruff to say the least and scared some of his clientele like our then young daughter. He seems to have disappeared, relegated, I imagine, to the family apartment above the restaurant. It's a huge restaurant and in the past was a fattoria with live stock and other agricultural activities.
The restaurant looks the same as it has for decades; that's the one unfortunate thing about this otherwise comfortable country restaurant. The walls need a serious revamp; they're a mixture of stones and tiles that couldn't be less attractive. Putting that aside L'Ovile offers fabulous Roman home cooking well worth a visit.
Although the Ovile is in the countryside north of Rome it's easily accessible by public transportation. Take a north Rome train from Piazzale Flaminio to the Sacrofano station and in thirty minutes you're there. Jump off the train and the restaurant is a minute's walk away.