Posts Tagged trattoria
I’ve always been a fan of the trattorias in Italy. I enjoy fine dining but something about the vibe and atmosphere of an Italian trattoria makes it my go to choice for dining in Italy. What better way to experience a region’s local cuisine? On my most recent trip to Sicily, I discovered Trattoria San Pietro, in the region of Trapani. San Pietro is slightly removed from the main drag of town, a couple turns and a few piazzas further. It’s small, intimate, and comfortable. We made a reservation and our table was ready right next to the kitchen. There were two to three people in the kitchen at a given time. No menu, just a few dishes spelled out on a chalkboard. Orders came in and the chef cranked out each individual dish. As I peeked through the beaded doorway into the kitchen, I watched it all come together.
I ordered the house antipasti which consisted of the Sicilian specialty, caponata, as well as olives, octopus seafood salad, zucchini and onions, sauteed eggplant, couscous with vegetables (couscous is one of the primary dishes in Western Sicily, most commonly served with fish/seafood), and swordfish ceviche (DIVINE!). Note the ceramic platter it’s served in, very typical Sicilian colors and design. Before our pastas arrived, we noticed what looked like fried sardines arrive at another table. Our eyes lit up at the sight of this dish, something we had not experienced at other restaurants, and to our surprise, the chef noticed our enthusiasm and five minutes later, he served us a sample. That’s the Sicilian way, especially in a trattoria. These fish were not sardines. The name is escaping me but the entire fish was edible, no bones, and beyond tasty! Finally, the pasta. The spaghetti vongole had to be the best I have ever eaten. Ingredients were simpel. Spaghetti, clams, olive oil, garlic, and parsley. The next pasta was a busiate, (a corkscrew pasta native to Trapani) with shrimp. Such simple ingredients that when combined together end up creating mouth watering flavor.
One of my most memorable meals in Rome was a Sunday’s lunch at a little trattoria called Settimio Al Pellgrino, located just off Campo dei Fiori. It can be quite challenging to find a restaurant open on a Sunday or Monday in Rome, but Settimio was the perfect choice. The place is small, you have to ring a bell and then get buzzed in. There are a few tables, each covered in white tablecloth embroidered with “Settimio Al Pellegrino”. The place is run by a woman and her husband. On the day I visited, there was just one woman cooking in the small kitchen in the back and of course all the food is cooked upon order. It was quite charming, filled with Italians enjoying a Sunday afternoon with family and friends. The menu changes daily based on what’s fresh, which is no surprise as this is common among most restaurants in Italy. Italians eat what’s in season, what’s fresh, and actually look forward to different seasons when they can eat different things.
We started out with their homemade egg pasta fettuccine and rigatoni corto with a simple pomodoro sauce topped with parmigiano. Next, we ordered the osso bucco, which was cooked perfectly, succulent, bone marrow and all. The meatballs are another speciality so we tried that as well. No need to order two, they will serve you just one if you just want a taste. They were soft, moist, bursting with flavor, and not overcomplicated with sauce. As a side we ordered chicory, prepared with olive oil and lemon. I could have had 3 more sides of that chicory. A simple green transformed into one of the most flavorful vegetables using only 2 other ingredients. These are the types of restaurants I look forward to when visiting Rome. The simple, family run trattorias, that honor the ingredients, and make it their own.