May 3, 2017
Our first evening in Rome! We left Canada at 12 noon, May 2nd and after hours and hours of planing, training, and automobiling, arrived in Rome at 11am on May 3rd. It was now 10 pm, and we were so very tired. But also, so very hungry. Michael Googled highly rated yet inexpensive food places nearby and one, Trattoria Pizzeria Vecchia Roma, caught our eye. We quickly found the place. When we walked in, we joined the crowd of people waiting… no… desperately hoping for a table. The restaurant was totally packed! With Italians! We knew we were in the right place. The man who appeared to be hosting came to the crowd on the stairs and said “only reservations!” Bummer! The crowd thinned, and almost everyone left, except for two women, who were taken by the host to their reserved table. Michael and I stood on the stairs, alone. A waiter looked over at us. He smiled and I smiled back. He motioned for us to come sit in his section. Life lesson: With a bit of persistence and some friendly eye contact, you really do just get what you want.
Our table was crammed between a huge table of ten, and a display case of various meats and cheeses. We ordered our €3.50 half litre of red wine (!) and settled in. Our waiter was wonderful! He brought us a few paper-thin slices of delicious prosciutto from the display case to try – for free! I love free food! We ordered two types of bruschetta – mushroom and olive – to share, a plate of gnocchi, and a plate of spaghetti puttanesca. Today, I learned that bruschetta does not necessarily mean tomatoes on toast. We ordered the mushroom and olive, thinking they would be mixed with tomatoes and garlic, like the bruschetta we are used to at home. In fact, our bruschetta was not what we were expecting. No tomatoes at all, just one with olive tapenade, and the other with a mushroom paste. Oh man, they were delicious! Ditto the pasta. The puttanesca was al dente, and super garlicky, and the gnocchi was cheesy and perfect.
Michael went to the washroom and our waiter came back to clear our plates. I thanked him profusely for his kind service and the prosciutto at the beginning of our meal. He said he was so happy we could join him this evening. I asked his name: Fabrizio. Of course it is. The most Italian name I can possibly imagine. Michael returned and Fabrizio brought us two tastes of limoncello- a lemony liquor made in Italy. Oh boy, it was strong!
It was late, and we were one of the few tables left in the restaurant. We thanked Fabrizio again. What a perfect first evening in Italy! We wandered back to our hotel and were instantly asleep.