If I needed any more proof that Monteverde is a stealth culinary rockstar, my last two meals out sealed the deal. First up was Cesare al Casaletto. My friend Elizabeth has already posted on this traditional and, at the same time, wonderfully innovative restaurant and I have nothing to add to her review, especially since I was with her the night she ate there. I will only just say that the restaurant is fantastic and that my dreams are currently haunted by the trio of terrific appetizers we shared at Cesare: perfectly fried little baby squidlets, fried meatballs made from boiled beef with pesto and fried (!) gnocchi on a bed of cacio e pepe fondue.
There’s another place I’ve been hearing a lot about and have wanted to check out for ages. Last night was the night and off Friend Jane and I went to the Trattoria del Pesce. It’s a tiny place tucked in a crooked little back street behind Largo Ravizza, where I take Morgan to play when I’m avoiding the park. Because people are stupid and don’t read signs, from time to time someone throws a big picnic in the area cani, where dogs are allowed to be off leash. Naturally all the dogs go crazy trying to get at the food and Morgan, who is a major table jumper at the best of times, ends up on top of the picnic table in nothing flat where he noses around in carrier bags while people yell at me. Yesterday, he jumped on the table and landed in a birthday cake. At such times, I feel that discretion is more virtuous than a big screaming fight with Italians and I hie my way hence to the Largo. But I digress.
It turns out that the Trattoria del Pesce is just a block down from Il Corno d’Africa, the Ethiopian place I wrote about recently, and across the street from a pizzeria that gets lots of buzz and that I’ll check out soon. The restaurant is airy and bright with very handsome waiters (you can see the guy who served us on their home page. The images are looped so you might have to wait a minute before he appears. But it’ll be worth it, believe me).
The menu, interestingly, is available in (very good for a change although Mediterranean is spelled wrong) English although the restaurant is very much off the beaten track and nowhere near anything of touristic interest to my knowledge. This is a fish restaurant so don’t bother coming round here if just-pulled-out-of-the-ocean-practically-swims-onto-your plate fresh fish is not your thing. Honestly, this might be the best fish place I’ve been to in Rome. I started with mixed raw fish, which I love. The dish, which was served in a sort of tower, featured two different types of raw shrimp, clams and carpaccios of squid, sword fish and sea bass. It came with a little bottle of ambrosial sauce for dipping, which was super lemony with a delicious olive oil as its base. Sorry, the photos aren’t great — taken with my iPhone.
Jane is convinced that you can’t really get the measure of an Italian restaurant without testing the pasta. Her choice was home made tagliolini with red shrimps from Sicily in a Sorrento lemon sauce. It was spectacular and that’s coming from someone (me) who’s not much of a pasta eater. The sauce was lemony and bright, the shrimp lovely and meaty. Have a look.
My next course was a sort of stew with turbot, little tomatoes from Vesuvius and olives from Gaeta. And some croutons, although the menu did not specify their provenance. Nevertheless, it was delicious. Not at all filling so I added a plate of escarole with olives (also from Gaeta).
Jane had mixed grilled fish, which she loved. I cadged a shrimp and it was lovely and fresh as could be.
I rarely eat dessert, nor does Jane.But in a place this great, you’ve got to give it a try. I had Amalfi lemon sorbet and Jane had ricotta foam with chocolate, an odd choice for her as she has always been highly contemptuous of the foam and dust school of chefery. Both desserts were lovely. The sorbet had just the right amount of pucker bite. The foam was more like whipped cream with a touch of cheese taste that went well (married well, I guess a real food writer would say) with the yummy melted chocolate.
Trattoria del Pesce is reasonably priced by Rome standards and well worth the trek to Monteverde. You can get there easily on my beloved number 8 tram. I was thrilled to discover a take out menu on their website. It’s open for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
Via Folco Portinari 27