What’s for dinner? Ah, Roma!

Oh this day. 

I began with friends, spent it lounging, shopping, walking, sharing pictures, wallowing in domestic bliss, and visiting with my beau.

And then, dinner. Early, thank goodness, because it was stupendous and far far too much food. Superb food. Coma inducing food. 

No pasta for this girl, today. I’d been craving beef and have been unexpectedly treated to an abundance of it. I’d already decided to skip pasta (and ultimately, breakfast and lunch) in favor of meat and vegetables today. Too many carbs yesterday. I don’t count them. I just feel the overload. 

And I’ve been cooking chicken. Enjoyed seafood in seaside Venice.  And veal twice already, and lamb – as much as usually I have in a year. All this week. So, the craving for beef. 

Enter Fabio. This Chef and I have been dancing around cacio è pepe lessons for a year. I knew he was on holiday, but when he posted online, “Ready for cacio è pepe?” I mistook this for an invitation.  A natural enough mistake. I thought perhaps he was working an additional day, or perhaps simply had the time to invite me to the kitchen. So, I headed over to the restaurant, just steps from my Roman abode. It turns out, he was teasing, or something I didn’t understand, because he is indeed vacationing, a fact he was quick to point out when I responded. Regardless, I was here. I opted to dine.  

I asked my favorite waiter at this, my favorite restaurant, what this other chef considered his specialty. Something, I said, he was proud to see leave the kitchen. The waiter left in some consternation, and I fully expected to find myself with a cheese plate. He was back minutes later, asking about my taste for beef. He had no way of knowing about my craving, so I just considered it serendipitous and conceded yes, sure, beef is fine. 

I ordered the best wine in the house: a beautiful Brunello that pairs with most everything. And I waited…

Then magic happened. The plates (plural) were set before me. 

Main plate

  • Bed of fresh Rocket
  • Filet sliced 1/2 inch
  • Topped with balsamic demiglace
  • Surrounded by very thin carrots
  • Parmesan crisps

Second plate

  • Grilled eggplant
  • Grilled zucchini
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Rosemary roasted potatoes
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley

This was brilliant. 

Oh heaven, that steak…

The roasted red pepper with grilled eggplant I’m dying, the combination is thrilling…

Parmesan crisps with the edges incidentally drenched in balsamic demiglace…

The little nibble of fresh rocket with a wafer thin slice of carrot, like a sorbet to cleanse the palate…

And then destroy it again with that fabulous beef. 

It was not fork tender. I actually did have to use the knife. But mostly, I just threatened the steak with the knife, and it acquiesced, falling apart obligingly. The taste was redolent of woodsmoke, and drenched in balsamic demiglace – I think each slice was dredged in it, before being plated and sauced. 

The vegetables were not sauced at all. The potatoes were roasted with rosemary, tasting a good deal like those served (and roasted with) the lamb. They’ve either shared the pan or the drippings. The eggplant and zucchini had the clean clear taste of each, grill marks smoky and charred, giving further credence to the possibility of a wood fired grill. 

The red pepper – nearly whole and missing grill or char marks – was not the soft mush of the canned variety, so I’m guessing it was roasted, but not with lamb. On its own. Unless it was roasted over a flame and peeled, which is entirely possible, given the texture. 

I never anticipated finishing that monster plate of food. Much less both.  But thank goodness I’d fasted all day and was ready for beef. Because finish I did. I’ve long maintained that my favorite thing for dessert is seconds. I certainly had them tonight. 

A beautiful and bountiful gourmand experience beginning to end. I ordered another glass of wine and began to write. Amen. 

Filet at Ristorante Napoletano
Piazza della Rotunda (Pantheon)
Rome, Italy