The Fifth Quarter

by Danilo Brunetti

A welcoming Testaccio restaurant carries on the culinary tradition of the neighborhood with a menu dedicated to organ meats.

Authentic Roman cuisine follows many strands, one of the most famous of which is the gastronomic tradition of the slaughterhouse, featuring the quinto quarto (literally the “fifth quarter”), or the “unwanted” part of the animal. This tradition was invented long ago by the scortichini, or slaughterhouse workers, using what were considered the waste cuts of the meat, offals such as pajata (lamb intestines), coratella, kidney, and the like, whose strong flavor is tempered by the careful use of condiments.

Today many of Rome’s restaurants, particularly those in the Testaccio neighborhood, offer these local dishes, traditionally a part of poor cuisine, yet rich in authentic flavors. Da Oio a Testaccio is one such restaurant, set in a simple yet welcoming environment, enhanced by lovely wooden tables, vaulted ceilings, retro-style chandeliers, and exposed brick walls. Da Oio remains tenaciously faithful to this authentic Roman cuisine by preparing delicious, genuine dishes according to time-honored traditions. The menu is a compendium of the recipes that have made the Testaccio district synonymous with traditional Roman cuisine, and in the pleasantly homey atmosphere, guests can indulge in an extensive choice of typical specialties, prepared under the careful supervision of owner Cristina and her son Simone.

Start your meal with a classic appetizer such as Roman-style artichokes. For a first course, try rigatoni with pajata or oxtail sauce, or tonnarelli cacio e pepe or carbonara. Among the hearty second courses, opt for oven-baked lamb with potatoes; stewed sweetbreads with salt and pepper, pollo alla cacciatora (chicken cooked in rosemary, garlic, and wine), meatballs in tomato sauce, or Roman-style tripe with mint. End your meal with the ricotta and sour cherry tart, tiramisù, or zuppa inglese. The cellar features mostly regional wines, with excellent organic Pecorino and Cesanese del Lazio, the perfect complements to any course. 

> Via Galvani, 45/43. Tel 0675782680.