Yesterday, Friend Jane and I went to the Auditorium to renew our subscriptions for the 2011 concert season. There was significant discussion as to whether we should stick to our current subscription or change to one with a different line-up of concerts. I never have a leg to stand on during these discussions because, five years on, I still know next to nothing about classical music and Jane’s family is lousy with musicians. While we were there, we picked up some tickets to see Elton John and Joe Cocker who are more up my alley. They’re not performing together (but wouldn’t it be funny if they were?). And then we thought to try our luck at snagging a table at Tiepolo, a very popular nearby restaurant. It’s located on a street with the same name, which is very lazy as far as naming goes. That reminds me, it has always struck me as odd that Italians–very creative in many ways–often fall short when naming their shops and restaurants and such like. Most flower shops are called Fiori (I’ll let you guess what that means) and bars are called Bar, or maybe Simone’s Bar. There are many exceptions but I do think the tendency to give lame monikers to one’s place of business is an Italian phenomenon worthy of note.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was an 18th Century fresco painter, the Venice-born king of the Rococo period. Wikipedia says this: “His sumptuous historical set-pieces are enveloped in a regal luminosity.” Hmm. A little too frou-frou for my tastes. But he got a street named after him for his troubles so what do I know?
The restaurant is small and earnest with a slightly Nordic feel. If the Indigo Girls were a restaurant, they’d look just like Tiepolo (I’m really aging myself with the musical references aren’t I?). In the warm months, tables spill across the sidewalk. Tiepolo has the feel of a local favourite but I imagine gets its fair share of after theatre people as well since it’s just blocks from the Auditorium.
With the exception of the famous Caprese and the offerings at the ubiquitous Insalata Ricca chain, most restaurant salads in Italy are basically greens with maybe a few tomatoes thrown in for colour. If you’re lucky, they’ll remember to bring you oil and vinegar and salt and you do the dressing yourself. No fancy Ranches or Thousand Islands or Newman’s Own Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette here. Tiepolo has a long list of interesting salads with names like ‘Viktoria’ and ‘The Kensington’ and ingredients including shrimp, salmon, bacon and fruit (but not together). I had a simple Greek salad with super fresh feta and Jane’s came with celery, apples, walnuts and a gorgonzola dressing.
The other thing they do to great effect is stuffing baked potatoes. Jacket potatoes as the Brits say. How I love me spuds. Mine was stuffed with diced shrimp mixed with Greek yoghurt and tons of dill.
Jane’s came with salmon and yoghurt. A nice, slightly unusual meal and pretty inexpensive by Rome standards. It came to 45 Euros for two, including a lovely tzaziki starter and drinks.
Tiepolo is always fully booked but here’s a trick. If you go early–like 7:30–they’ll let you have a table as long as you promise to be out by 9:00 when the reservations start kicking in.
Tiepolo, Via Giovanni Battista Tiepolo 3/5, 00196 Rome, Italy. 06 3227449.