As some of you have gently reminded me, I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks because I’ve had computer problems and visitors. I have many adventures to share with you, but I know you like to read about food, so today I’ll tell you about some of the best-tasting, freshest fish I’ve ever eaten.
We haven’t yet considered finding or eating in expensive restaurants in Rome because for now we prefer to eat in trattorias, osterias, pizzerias, salumerias, or other more simple and homey spots. Last Thursday on Alison and Mitch’s last night with us, we (well, Mitch) splurged, and we ate at Pierluigi, a beautiful fish restaurant on a quiet (except when traffic passes by) little piazza a few blocks from our apartment. It was the best meal we’ve had in Italy so far this year.
On Thursday morning the heavens opened wide, and Rome was treated to a thunder storm of epic proportions. Water gushed from the sky so fast that the drains in Rome couldn’t keep up with the deluge, so the streets flooded, traffic was tied in knots, people’s basements flooded, cabs were nonexistent, and the Tevere (Tiber) rose a couple of feet to cover the walking paths on either side. Michael left at 7:45 for a retreat at the south end of town and barely made it. He was one of the lucky ones since many, including several presenters, couldn’t get to the hotel because they couldn’t get cabs and even when they could, many roads were impassable. People at work kept apologizing to Michael, saying that it never rains like this in Rome. Al, Mitch, and I were scheduled to visit the catacombs Thursday, but we canceled our appointment—just too darned soggy!
When I made reservations at Pierluigi, I’d requested a table on the piazza. Fortunately the hostess seated us inside, because although it wasn’t still raining, it was cold (freddo, freddo!) and damp. The interior of Pierluigi is beautiful—dark and modern, with nice china and glassware, including “real” wine glasses (as Michael calls stemmed glasses with large bowls, since we so often get wine glasses with tiny bowls or simple drinking glasses). Shortly after we were seated, the server told Michael and Mitch to follow him so they could choose the fish (seems easier than fishing but not nearly so sporting). They came back, told Al and me what they (and the server) recommended, and the feast began.
Our appetizers included a spectacular and beautiful platter of tuna, salmon, and John Dory carpaccio studded with amazing tiny greenish-brown olives that tasted like perfume. The olives (and the carpaccio) were stunning. We also had perfect pan-seared scallops in some sort of green sauce and a platter of prawns (I prefer shrimp to prawns, so although this was good, it wasn’t my favorite dish). The pièce de resistance for me was the primi piatti: risotto in shrimp cream. I love risotto and have eaten it in Rome several times, but I’d thought it was just okay until Thursday. Pierluigi’s risotto was creamy and rich with a gorgeous shrimp-colored sauce. I want to go back and have it every single night! I want to go back and have it right now (it’s 10 a.m.)!!! It’s the best pasta I’ve had in Rome and ties for first place with a fantastic risotto with black squid ink that we ate in Venice (Italy) in 2006. The agnelotti with shaved black truffles from Ristorante Paris slips to third.
For our secondi piatti we shared a red snapper baked with potatoes, tomatoes, and olives. The potatoes were crispy and delicious—they’re sometimes soggy and not so yummy in this preparation. The dish was wonderful. For dessert we shared a lovely pannacotta, Al’s favorite Italian dessert, with fruito di bosco—a mixed-berry sauce. To accompany our dinner, the wine steward recommended a chardonnay from Puglia, which was perfect with our fish and relatively reasonably priced (28€ – about $35 or so).
For a stellar fish dinner (or lunch) in Rome, put this restaurant on your list. If we’re here, we can race right over to join you—no problem. Dibs on the risotto!