The primary reasons for checking out Cavour 313 are a warm welcome, an overall sincerity and lack of pretension, a massive, 1000-bottle-plus wine list, and an awesome décor. The food is also good, but should be viewed as an afterthought to the wine. If you’re like me, this doesn’t pose a problem. It seems strange that the wine bar is famous for being the oldest enoteca (wine bar) operating in Rome; this fact isn’t particularly relevant. Unlike the truly ancient Coliseum, which is just down the street from the wine bar, Cavour 313 only opened in 1979. The atmosphere and personality are what make this place worth visiting.
When we entered we were greeted by a big man with a long, black beard. He stood behind the bar and, after welcoming us, flagged a waiter who brought us to our table. We didn’t have reservations, and this was almost to our detriment: the restaurant was nearly full. I suggest making reservations before you visit by calling the number on their web site.
The wine establishment’s interior is long and narrow and we walked past some incredible, original wood work. My father was once a wooden boat builder and fine wood work has always caught my eye. The deep, grainy color of the finely polished wood was contrasted with hundreds of carefully placed wine bottles. In the center of the rear room, where we were seated, a wooden structure composed of thin-lathe cubes climbs up through the ceiling. It is here that you can catch just a glimpse of the extensive wine storage that must consume the second floor of the building.
Cavour 313 wasn’t offering an extensive list of wines by the glass–maybe six or seven in total–but those that they did offer were well-chosen: Valpolicella, Brunello di Montelcino, Nero D’Avola, and Refosco were all included. All the wines were priced at four euro a glass, except the Brunello di Montelcino, which cost eight euro. The Brunello’s price seemed fair since it was 2004; a good vintage. We ordered two glasses.
Over the Brunello we scoped out the heavy menu. Strangely, few dishes were offered. Cavour 313 is definitely not a good destination for diners looking for a complete dinner. If you’re looking to snack, however, and you want an impressive collection of antipasti designed specifically for wine pairing, Cavour 313 offers it. Four big pages of the menu were dedicated to an extensive variety of cured meats. Even deer and moose were offered. The list of cheeses was, likewise, extensive. I was disappointed that there were few vegetable-driven dishes offered, but we eventually found a plate of marinated veggies.
When the food arrived the serving-sizes were as tiny as the menu selection. My girlfriend and I shared the cheese plate and the slices of cheese were so small that I felt I didn’t really taste them. Next time I go to there I’ll know to order more.
Final notes: The service was great, casual and comfortable (the waitress even sat at our table while taking our order, which somehow was cool). Much of the staff speaks English. The price of the food puts the restaurant on the expensive side. Expect to pay around 40 euro for two.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com