Sophie was in town last week for Easter break, and I took advantage of her bottomless stomach to go out to lunch often. Although I manage to go to a lot more restaurants than most people, I always have a long list of places I’ve been meaning to try but somehow have never gotten to. Trattoria Cadorna was at the top of that list.
So last week, before the Easter weekend gorging, Sophie and I set out to get our stomachs in shape for accepting large quantities of food. Since it was a last minute decision though, I hadn’t really done my homework in terms of what we were going to order. When I go to a restaurant I usually at least have done idea of what they are famous for, what people like and don’t like. The only somewhat vague memory I had of Cadorna was that we were supposed to order Antipasto Cadorna.
So, Antipasto Cadorna it was. Now, I know I always over order. It’s my job, right? To try as many things as possible? But we held back, and ordered ‘only’ the antipasto and two primi and didn’t even think about a secondo. The Antipasto, at 15 euros a person, sounded like it would be kind of big anyway.
Big? It was HUGE! There was no description on the menu, and when the waiter had rattled off the various components, I guess my mind had drifted for a moment. Because at that point I should have stopped him and said “Solo per uno” – only for one. Instead, what did I do? Just nod my head and say si si, va bene va bene. So Antipasto Cadorno per due arrived.
First the fried dough, two kinds no less. Small round ravioli-shaped puffs of fried dough, crispy on the outside, hollow on the inside, drizzled with fresh tomato sauce and bit of basil. On the same plate were long skinny bread stick-shaped pieces of dough, fried, and then dusted with abundant quantities of freshly grated pecorino romano cheese and rosemary.
The next plate to arrive was grilled eggplant, covered with bits of melted mozzarella, diced tomato and basil. Soon after followed a plate with perfectly cooked veal meatballs, surrounded by baked, then pan fried, potatoes.
And, finally, a plump little burrata, with two pieces of toasted bread, doused in olive oil and covered in grated pecorino.
FYI, we actually made it through quite a lot of the above. It was actually hard to stop. Especially the fried dough which against all odds actually seemed to get better as it cooled off.
We couldn’t believe we still had pasta coming. And little did we know that the other thing Cadorna is known for is its huge portions. I ordered Papardelle Cadorna, a luscious eggy tangle of noodles with mushrooms and peas. Sophie wisely ordered Rigatoni con la Pajata. This Roman dish is made with unweaned calves intestines, and usually the bits of meat are so small you can barely make them out. Here instead there were big, curly pieces, that not only flavored the sauce but were actually something you could bite into.
Bite into if – of course – you hadn’t already worked your way through Antipasto Cadorna. After taking a few forkfuls, we realized we were swimming upstream. There was no way we could even begin to make a dent in the mountainous portions.
If the pasta had been anything less than extraordinary we would have paid our bill, and walked away from it. But instead we sheepishly asked for a doggie bag. Which is something you don’t do in Italy.
Via Rafaelle Cadorna 12