Friday, September 2, 2011
How do I stumble upon new restaurants? How do I decide where to go out for a meal? Obviously in my circle of friends I’m The Decider. This is doubly true within my family as well. And can I say something right here? This is a lot of pressure. While everyone wants me to decide where we go out to eat, everyone always has their opinion as well. The worst offenders are my family. “I don’t feel like fish” or “I definitely want to sit outside.” Well, then, you suggest something, ok?
Last week, as it neared lunch time, Sophie and I decided to go out to lunch. Of course, I was the one to decide. The problem was that it was the end of August and almost none of our usual places were open. So, who does The Decider turn to for help in finding restaurants in Rome? As it turns out there are two very good sites run by colleagues that I use quite a bit. Tavole Romane and Puntarella Rossa. Both sites cover the restaurant scene in Rome and both have very good taste (and by good taste of course I mean taste that matches mine.)
They also both do nifty lists. Like “Top Five”, “Best Brunches”, etc.
And lucky for me, Puntarella Rossa did a very handy “What’s Open in August” list. Day by day they listed about 20 places that were open around Rome. Some I had heard of, others not. Some they had reviewed, but not always.
And this is how I stumbled upon Primo Sale. Not located in a neighborhood I frequent (Trionfale) all I could find about it was their web site. Which actually looked interesting. (I figure any website that quotes Neruda is ok with me). But I figured that even if Puntarella Rossa hadn’t reviewed it, if they included it on their list then there must be a reason. I trust them.
From the outside I thought we had made a mistake. An old dirty awning and sign that read ‘Trattoria Pizzeria” didn’t correspond to the crisp and clean web site. But once through the doors it all came together. Bright airy dining room, kind of country chic. Specials on the chalkboard and tables fast filling up with regulars. (On that August afternoon we opted for the air conditioned interior, rather than the terrace)
We ordered from the daily specials, and were very happy. Domenico ordered Paccheri con Cozze e Bottarga: big, floppy paccheri, very al dente, with plenty of plump, fresh musssels. My Rigatoni con Ragu di Tonno was something I’m going to try to recreate at home. The chunky sauce was made with buzzonaglia di tonno, rather than plain old canned tuna or even fresh tuna. This is the dark meat of the tuna, much richer, and perfect in this type of ragu.
Sophie of course, being Sophie, ordered the Amatriciana, which was served over a tangle of hand made pici. Big fat chewy strands of pasta with enough tomatoey quanciale to satisfy even Sophie.
Since the web site made such a big deal of fresh vegetables, we ordered stewed beans and a plate of grilled vegetables. All perfectly cooked and just enough for lunch.
The one thing we all kept repeating during lunch was “I wish we had a place like this in our neighborhood.” It was that good, and that comfortable. I’m glad that the doldrums of August forced us out of our comfort zone.
So, thank you Puntarella Rossa, for taking on the role of The Decider. It’s kind of nice having a break once in a while.
C.ne Clodia 20/22/24