If Trattoria Monti and their celebrated ‘tortini’ were good enough for Frank Bruni, they were good enough for us. But let’s back up a bit…We never would have discovered Trattoria Monti if it weren’t for Bruni’s glowing, mouth-watering reviews. Before he was the New York Times dining critic, he was their Rome bureau chief, a man always searching for the next political nugget and great Italian meal. Close to his apartment in the working class neighborhood of Esquilino (read: not touristy, slightly unremarkable), was the ultimate local trattoria, specializing in the cuisine of Le Marche. (Le Marche is a region east and north of Rome, and, from what we’ve tasted, a culinary jewel as much for the region’s food as their wine.)

Let’s get back to that tortino. The texture is part flan, part soufflé and, as Frank says, looks like a tall hockey puck. The savory custard is made from vegetables or cheese and is mercifully bathed in a sauce of more cheese. Monti’s most ethereal dish on the menu is the “tortino di cipolle rosse con fonduta di gorgonzola,” the entire thing made from slowly cooked red onions and then finished off with melted gorgonzola. Try this, try the parmesan tortino, order a few primi like the ‘olive ascolane’ and call it a day. Just make sure to listen up and trust the very friendly and attentive staff when they steer you toward the well-priced wines from Le Marche like the Rosso Conero. The boldness of the Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes perfectly complement the big flavors of the meal. It all makes for the perfect Roman lunch.

Via di San Vito, 13