The Upstairs Vegetarian is a very fine journalist who works for an esteemed publication and, as you might have heard, Rome has been awash with newsworthy goings on as of late. So she’s been working hugely long days for weeks. To celebrate the whole Pope thing getting more or less sorted out and the fact that it was a glorious spring day after what has seemed like months of torrential rains, we treated ourselves to a nice long walk with the reward of brunch at the end (of course, rain was threatening again by the end of the day). The Morgster was delighted to be invited along.
We ended up at Zoc, the restaurant that fed the U.V. and her journalist colleagues over the past month while they rushed around doorstepping cardinals and searching the horizon for white smoke. She’s has been raving about Zoc and it was very good indeed. Zoc is very much into the whole kilometer zero business as is its trendy sister in Monti, Urbana 47. Kilometer zero normally refers to the particular location (usually in a capital city) from which distances are measured. The Milliarum Aureum (Golden Milestone) was a marble column (possibly) that was covered by gilded bronze. It was erected by the Emperor Caesar Augustus in 20 AD near the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum. All roads in the Empire were declared to begin at this monument and all distances measured from there; whence cometh ‘All roads lead to Rome.’ In Italian foodie language, kilometer zero (or ‘km 0’ for the hipster foodies) has become the battle cry of Italy’s growing locavore movement, which is based on the principles of direct supply chain and locally foraged ingredients. Locavore means, not to put too fine a point on it, ‘eater of local food.’ Zoc espouses all of this but they also rely heavily on a lot of foreign spices. Not sure I get the logic there but anyway.
The restaurant is cute and filled with lots of funky vintage furniture. Because of the dog, we opted for the garden, which looked a bit like Honey Boo Boo’s backyard, to be honest. Do you know about this person? Honey Boo Boo is the star of a massively popular reality show (Here Comes Honey Boo Boo Child); she’s a seven year old beauty pageant participant from Georgia. Honey Boo Boo is somewhat of a foodie herself. She loves ‘ sketti,’ an old family recipe (ketchup+melted butter poured over cooked noodles). Here’s how it’s done. I could watch this video forever.
Because they made us wait a bit before taking our order, the restaurant offered a little starter, which was creamy scrambled eggs over crispy shredded carrot, artichoke and onion.
Next, the Upstairs Vegetarian had a plate of grilled aged stracchino cheese atop a little mound of steamed greens and spicy jam. I, ever true to my carnivorous nature, had a succulent barbecued pork rib and patatas bravas, a Spanish tapas dish featuring fried potatoes with a peppery sauce.
No complaints about the food; it was really good. Sadly they were out of the codfish hotdog, which I was dying to try. Doesn’t that sound awesome? But I do have a rant to rave. It being Sunday and early afternoon and brunch being on the rise in these here parts, they brought us the following menu.
Don’t get me wrong; this all looks delicious: crisp rösti potatoes with scrambled eggs on top (Okay, so that’s a bit brunch-y); ravioli stuffed with curried chicken; lamb chops; orange sorbet. A good price for four courses. I would eat it all happily. But Italy, a word? I have been lobbying very hard against the overwhelming urge of Americans to order a panini (plural) when what they want is a panino (singular). Likewise with biscotti/biscotto. The least you can do in return is to get this brunch thing right. Brunch is a neologism (relatively speaking) that combines the words (and, importantly, the concepts of) breakfast and lunch. That means eggs (preferably of the Benedict variety), bacon, lox and bagels, mimosas, tons of coffee and jazz. The Sunday New York Times would not be amiss. Call me a snob who spent too much time in NYC, but brunch is not simply lunch that happens to take place on the weekend.
Via delle Zoccolette 22 (Ponte Sisto).Tel: +39 06 68192515. Open for breakfast from 9.00 to 12.00; lunch (saturday and sunday brunch – HA!) from 12.30 to 15.30; dinner from 19:00 to 24:00.