Rome's Best-Kept Secret: Da Osvaldo

The secret of the place (in fact in all restaurants in Rome) is to see what is fresh that day. Wander to the back and glance under the lace cloth that covers the daily selection of seasonal vegetables that can be eaten at room temperature or reheated in a sauté pan.

The bruschetta is always delicious, the regional soups filling, the scaloppine done like any Italian grandmother would do.

And the best part about this place is the prices! Check the specials of the day -- three courses for 8 euros ($11) including a glass of wine.

Maria Grazia's regular customers are the shopkeepers and laborers who work in the area, but she is warm and welcoming to tourists who enter. Bring your dictionary -- no English is spoken in this family restaurant. But don't let that deter you as the menu has sort-of English descriptions. The eight tables have clean linens and simple decorations to welcome you, but you may find the heating a bit wanting in the winter time.

I have been a little hesitant to reveal our neighborhood spot. I have never seen it in a guide book though the place has been around for 30 years or more. But with economic times tough out there for the businessperson and tourist alike I thought now was the time to share this little gem.

It won't be the meal you rave about when you get home, but it will be satisfying and a bargain compared to the surrounding choices. Maria Grazia may be a bit surprised when English speakers start turning up regularly, but she'll kindly offer you a good home-cooked meal and there will still be money to splurge on ice cream for later in the day.

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