Sometimes I long for a good burger and a beer. Last Thursday I walked home through the Jewish Ghetto after taking photos of the Quattro Fontane (see my previous post). I wanted lunch, but I couldn’t decide where to stop. Suddenly, I wanted a burger, and I couldn’t get that image out of my head. I didn’t want just ANY burger—I wanted a Capri burger and a beer from Open Baladin, a craft beer bar and restaurant a short walk from our apartment and just a few blocks from the Ghetto, Piazza Farnese, and Campo de’ Fiori. Fortunately, I was just a few blocks away.
From 5 until 8 p.m. Open Baladin is fairly quiet and you can often get a table without a reservation (the earlier you go, the better your chances). After 8 p.m. you need reservations because customers must be seated at tables—they’re not allowed to stand around in the bar (how civilized!). As the evening goes on, lines of waiting customers (mostly students late in the evening) form in the street outside and a “bouncer” blocks the front door.
The ground floor of the restaurant has a large bar with several tables. To the left and upstairs are a series of small dining rooms with funky furniture. I should probably like these rooms best because they are quieter and because it feels as if you’re eating in someone’s home, but I don’t. I prefer the noisy bar because the display area is so modern and beautiful.
As I said, Open Baladin specializes in craft beers, and with 35 or so beers on tap and selections that change every month, there’s surely one for any beer lover. My favorites are the saison beers: Enkir or Duchessa.
And then there are the burgers. For me, the Capri burger at Open Baladin ranks among the best burgers that I’ve ever eaten. The bun is chewy and delicious, which shouldn’t be surprising because the buns are made by Gabriele Bonci, one of the best bread bakers in Rome (of Pizzarium fame). Although Italian beef is excellent, I usually order burgers cooked medium, because in Italy rare is REALLY rare. Delicious buffalo mozzarella and a tomato slice top the meat, and then comes my favorite part: silky basil mayonnaise. Aaaaah!
Open Baladin also makes potato chips and serves them in a variety of ways. Our favorite is sprinkled with parmesan cheese, but people rave about chips served with licorice. Hmmm. I might have to try those. Open Baladin also makes its own ketchup.
Open Baladin has other menu choices, and it offers a special Sunday dinner. I had a burger attack a couple of Sundays ago, and we walked up to the restaurant for lunch. It was PACKED! With Italians! At 1 p.m.! Lunch in Italy usually begins around 1:30 or 2, so we were shocked. We got the last table, so all was not lost. So what if it was right next to the coat rack and I was nearly buried under coats by the time we finished. Michael had a tender, juicy pig’s knuckle with roasted potatoes. I’ll bet you can’t guess what I had!