The first meal I ate after stepping off an overnight transatlantic flight was glorious. Fresh fettuccine smothered in an anchovy, bread crumb and tomato sauce that was topped with salty pecorino cheese. The pasta papone is the signature dish of the new Mastro Papone seafood stall in the bustling Testaccio Market.
Mercato di Testaccio is my local market. It is where I come to buy everything from cherries to bread to shoes. The local market is one of the best in Rome and I am so happy to live near it because it is constantly improving.
Mastro Papone opened in February 2019, but the same family has had a fish stall inside the Testaccio Market for much longer. Mastroianni has been selling seafood in Testaccio since 1920, to be precise.
The result is food so good that I went back twice in one week to get even more. The ingredients are all so simple but also so fresh and well prepared – which is really my dream scenario.
The simple menu changes daily depending on the season but two things that you will always find are fried calamari and pasta alle papone. This house dish is what kept calling to me. It is made with fresh pasta, bread crumbs, anchovy that is cooked with tomatoes until it all dissolves into one savory sauce, with a heavy hand of pecorino cheese to top it all off.
I personally preferred it with the fresh fettuccine rather than the shorter tube pasta known as paccheri, but both are good.
Given the quality of the food, the price is amazing. The house pasta is €6, with a free bottle of water included. This is the kind of dish you would easily pay more than double that price for in a sit down restaurant. But don’t worry: there is plenty of seating available. You can either grab a stool at Mastro Papone’s counter or take your food to the free tables that are located in the center of the market.
The food stall also sells drinks like wine for €3 a glass – which all makes for a decadent but completely affordable lunch out.
If you are planning to be in the market and still have room to eat more, some of my other favorite places to eat are Casa Manco, Mordi e Vai, TBSP (for burgers) and Da Artenio. There is more wine to be had a Chicci e Lettere, as well.
Mercato di Testaccio – Box 96
Via Beniamino Franklin, 12/E
Open: Tuesday – Saturday for lunch only