Friday, June 17

Fish on Fridays - Roman Style

Every Friday, the gourmet shoppe on the corner posts a charming sign, Oggi Ceci & BaccalĂ  - just one of those sweet reminders that you're still in the 'Old Country' despite the SUVs, the Happy Hours, the kids on Ecstasy and other imported accoutrements that remind you of home.  And while I've never eaten the cod from my local deli (I tend to save it for forays into Venice whereby I eat it 'til my gills burst), I must say, when it comes to imbibing in invertebrates, the Romans really know how to do it.  

After having an outstanding meal including a simple plate of sea bream covered in salt at Il Gabriello (near the Spanish Steps), I can tell you that all of the diners were thrilled with their respective fishes in the dishes as well.  The locale is charming, in an ancient Osteria (sort of a wine cellar), the staff outstanding as the use pet rocks to indicate (I surmised) what course you were waiting for, and you were surrounded by artworks.  Lone businessmen, couples and large tables were treated to plate after plate of some of the best food I've ever seen served [the place is small and tables quite smartly arranged within, so you could pretty much see what was going down the aisle without trying too hard].  And dining surrounded by artworks by one of the sons of the original owner, who goes by B.Zarro.  Reservations a must.

My usual favorite has always been Pierluigi's down via Monserrato near Palazzo Farnese.  The fish from front to finish is exceptional.  I personally love the Catalan dish (shrimp, tomato, potato-they add calamari as well), followed by an exquisitely prepared Rombo [translating fish names is not one of my specialties - no matter what you're eating, in my book, fish=fish] or Turbot.  The problem is, while the wait staff could not be more efficient, attentive, and just plain charming, when Pierluigi expanded with a zillion tables  out into the even more charming piazzetta, they seemed to have forgotten to tell the kitchen staff that they would be serving 300 more people a night.  So, a 90 min. wait for that fish to fry is not unusual.  Again, if you want to eat at prime Roman time (8:30pm to 10pm), reservations a must.

There are other places around, with fish flowing out of the storefront windows.  I simply haven't gone there.  But, another 'eating adventure' is a tiny Osteria in Trastevere, called Il Gensola.  Elbow to elbow with the other diners, the fish was outstanding - and we had ordered most of it uncooked.  Diners are packed in there tight as sardines, so it's a place I prefer to frequent in winter.

Please let me know where you like to go when things start to get fishy...


Celeste said...

My cousin and I are bringing our nieces/goddaughters to Rome next year, so make sure you remind me of these places - and oh, now I need to find a Baccala e Ceci recipe - two of my favorite things! (soaking in olive oil, I"m sure).

Irreverent Italy said...

Well, one of my faves is still Ragu (near Staz. Trastevere)

I might eating in Rome is a pricey, depending on the ages of people...Kids in the end just want gnocchi. Every night. Followed by gelato. Every night.

But, check out in the right hand column my list in the Carpe Diem section for things to do in Rome as well!

Dave514 said...

What are Ceci other than Czechs? I assume local word.

In olden days in the US, Baccala was in an open barrel in the store. People with dogs could come in the store. If you got your Baccala from near the bottom of the barrel you might get a little extra flovouring with it. I'm sure this was true in Italy too.


Anonymous said...

Hey, what about my favorite, the fish menu at Ristorante Pomodoro e Basilico near the Catacombe! Is that place still around? It was something like EUR 20 for ten courses of fish dishes plus wine!

Irreverent Italy said...

@Davide - ceci are chick-peas or ceci beans

@Anon - Ahhhh...the phenomenal fish menu at Pomodoro&Basilico sadly closed years ago...It was truly a remarkable eating experience...