By Terry Carter*
Our third memorable meal turned out to be at Michelin-starred Ristorante Il Pagliaccio. We had wanted to eat here for a while, having heard great things about the chef and glowing recommendations about the inventiveness of the menu of Anthony Genovese. Visiting for lunch, we were the only patrons there, yet we hadn't been able to get a table for two nights. Manager Daniele Montano explained that they open for lunch to keep people like us happy (he guessed we were ‘food tourists’), as well as the businessmen and politicians out to impress. To be honest, there were so many highlights to this meal it’s hard to pick out some favorites. The gnocchi with oysters and caviar was sublime. And we had the best prepared pigeon, served with peas, pea puree and mushrooms, that we'd ever had in our lives. The wines were perfectly matched and the service was warm and generous. Il Pagliaccio might translate to the weeping clown, but this meal made us weep tears of delight. Although we were a little melancholy for more after we left…
Great meals have a flow about them and great restaurants exude a certain confidence. The wines match the food well, the waiting staff work seamlessly together, and the kitchen brings out fresh ingredients cooked with care and often plenty of flair. But great meals don’t have to be as intricate and delicate as dining at Il Pagliaccio where a new wine and new taste sensations were presented with every course. They can be as simple and rustic as La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, or more classical and refined like L'Arcangelo. When we go out to eat we’re happy with any of these three types of experiences. And when a meal clicks, it makes all the ones that don’t feel that way seem like wasted opportunities - something that really irks us when we’re working on a guidebook and blow a tonne of money on a restaurant that we ultimately can’t recommend. But while we are researching stories, to have three memorable meals in just as many days, with such a gamut of experiences, is one of the pure joys of travelling. Don’t you think? It’s one of the reasons we do what we do!
Terry Carter* is my partner and co-author.
Monday, June 16, 2008
By Terry Carter*