Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Le Limoncini

Friday night has become our regular night out for dinner. Not that we are unusual in that – dining out to celebrate the end of the work week is the normal way most everyone in Rome starts the weekend. There are a few favorite restoranti/trattori from previous trips that we planned to revisit. But last Friday (San Giocinto), with the Ferragosto closings, we choose a local restoranti that advertised that they were open during the whole month of August.

Le Limoncini is just a block away from the apartment, has pleasant sidewalk tables shielded from the street by lattice work and hedges, an interesting menu, and, for Rome, reasonable prices. The owner – large with an equally large moustache – mans the kitchen and his son – affable and as cute as a button – looks after the service. The waiters are professionals not never-been singers/actors/models/dancers between jobs and take their craft seriously.

We wandered over around 1945 – a bit early for the normal Roman to dine so we had a choice of tables. The obligatory bread and olives were set on the table – don’t think for a minute they’re a gift from the management, they show up on the bill at the end of the evening as a “cover.” We ordered a bottle of mineral water and began the serious business of deciphering the menu (Italian only in our neighbourhood.) We managed to put together a decent enough meal and ordered a really good Sardinian white to go with it.

Antipasto: Salmon in lemon and olive oil
Primi: Scampi Risotto
Secondi: Lemon Scaloppini
Dolce: Lemon Sorbet

Antipasto: Fried Zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy
Primi: Gnocchi in gorgonzola and radicchio sauce
Secondi: Veal Milanese smothered in tomato and rocket lettuce
Dolce: Panna Cotta with strawberries

Espresso and amaro

The gnocchi were amongst the lightest I’ve ever tasted and Laurent wants me to try the Risotto the next time.* I hadn’t eaten stuffed zucchini flower since we lived in Mexico in 1987 and they were as delicious as I remember. All in all a fine meal – though next time I think I’ll do either a Primi or a Secondi not both.

The food was good but as the evening progressed people-watching became half the fun. The restaurant filled up with couples – young and old, male-female and male-male, – family groups, a single male diner and several ladies out with friends – including at least one sister with her Sister from the Ursuline Convent down the street. At one point a black sedan pulled up and out stepped a sinister-looking, tattooed, all-in-black Guido with a shaved head and a full-figured female companion on either well-muscled arm. They strode into the restaurant and reappeared several minutes later having done nothing more nefarious than pick up their take-out pizzas. Around 2200 a young couple strolled up with a baby in one of those carriages that puts a Smart Car to shame. They were greeted with great joy by a table of friends and family. The bambina was passed from person to person, smothered in kisses and hugs, proudly held by a gentleman we took to be grandpa, squealed her approval at being the centre of attention then promptly fell asleep as the adults went about the serious business of ordering food. When we left at 2300 the place was still full and a young couple slid quickly into our vacated table.

*We went back with some friends who are visiting from the UK on Sunday night and were greeted like regulars. A few very tasty antipasti were suggested, Elizabeth, the 6 year old, was treated as the equal to any of the other diners and Laurent was right, the Risotto was wonderful. I have a feeling its going to become a bit of a Friday night haunt.

18 agosto – Sant’Elena


Doralong said...

My tummy seethes with barely suppressed jealousy..

Sounds like you've found yourselves the perfect neighborhood place- they'll be treating you like family any day now ;)

BigAssBelle said...

oh my goodness! what a divine evening out you had! and what a grand restaurant. it sounds so marvelous and so wonderfully european that i am filled with longing to be anywhere but here.

both of your choices sound extremely tasty, but i would likely order yours, willym, minus the flower. the eating of flowers is something i simply cannot abide, not that they aren't tasty. i'm sure they are. it is just the fact of eating a flower ~ a striated veined pollen-filled dusty flower with a (nasty) sticky pistil or stamen in the middle. even the juvenile form of these flower parts make me heave a little when i contemplate eating one.

MARVELOUS!!! you all seem to be settling in so well. i am longing for italy . . . hugs to you three, lynette

evilganome said...

It sounds wonderful. I was in gastronomic heaven just reading about it. And Belle, I haven't had stuffed squash blossoms, but I love daylily and nasturtiums on salads. You don't know what you are missing! Thanks for the glimpse of dining life in Rome, Willym.

more cowbell said...

Sounds heavenly. I'm feeling so nostalgic and wishing I was not stuck this side of the Pond...

I'm so glad you've such a nice place to maybe become regulars!