Wednesday, September 30, 2015 — More piazzas (not pizzas) and great dining

A sunny day beckoned us to do more exploring, so we grabbed a taxi for the Piazza del Popolo, known for its matching churches on one side of the square.

A short hair-raising taxi ride and we were there, only to find that the column in the square is being refurbed. Accordingly, the crowds were minimal, and I had great photo opportunities. We spent some time strolling around the square and went in to one of the churches, just as a Mass was starting. As David is Episcopalian (Catholic-Lite), he understood a little about what was going on, but not much. From what I gather, Episcopalians celebrate Holy Communion with Pringles and Chardonnay…

After the photos, it was time to stroll down one of the major streets that radiate from the Piazza. Some good window shopping opportunities and a lot of pizza spots. A few blocks down, we came to the via del Vantaggio, where the restaurant we are booked at for tonight is located. We strolled down the street and peeked in. A nice setting inside a modern, upscale hotel gave us hopes that the meal would be special.

It was getting near lunch time, so we meandered towards the Piazza di Spagne and started looking for a place to eat. We wanted a bit more than pizza, so passed on most of the spots until we saw a small ristorante, Malafemmena, with an appealing menu, and pulled up seats at a table on the street. It turned out to be terrific. I had linguine with clams, and David a risotto with cheese. As a side, I had a fresh salad, and David Roman artichokes. We ordered a bottle of Jermann Chardonnay to go with it and settled down for a very nice meal. The only thing we hadn’t counted on was that the restaurant adjoins a delivery point of a small market, so mini-trucks kept arriving and backing in, some coming close to David.

We escaped unscathed, and continued toward the Piazza di Spagne, where we found the Bernini Fountain was being refurbished…. I took some photos, mostly of the Spanish Steps, and then we continued on a bit. We pulled into a small square near the Spanish Embassy and grabbed a table at a small café for a glass of wine. The couple who sat next to us were from South Carolina, and made me wince when the wife ordered a salad caprese and asked if she could have it with mozzarella and tomatoes. Oh well, they were nice, and just starting a ten-day Italian vacation, so were upbeat and friendly.

Back to the Sofitel for a quick nap, then we got ready for our dinner at All Oro.

All Oro has gotten high marks for its innovative cuisine from a young chef, and has earned a number of awards, including a Michelin star. We arrived in the lobby and were amused to see a contemporary art piece of a cow, phones and phone book. The Italians do have a sense of humor.

We ambled into the dining room which was stunning, simple, but pleasing to the eye. The maître ‘d immediately greeted us and gave us a table of our choosing. We decided to go with a tasting menu, but had a difficult time deciding whether to have a 4, 5, 7 or the Chef’s 9-course meal. We opted for the 4-course. David ordered the wine, a chardonnay from Friuli, which was terrific.

The amuse bouche arrived compliments of the Chef. It was spectacular to both the eye and palate, so were looking forward to our entrees.  David and I both chose the same entrees of Beef Carpaccio (a beef from Northern Italy called Fassano). It was served with thinly sliced truffles, rolled into a small cylinder, and was probably the best tasting beef we’ve ever experienced. On to the second course, Capelettis with a creamy sauce and saffron. Capelettis means little hats in Italian, and these were filled with a wonderful broth. The third course consisted of Scallops cooked with speck (ham) and a potato gratinee stack, simple, but perfectly done. Dessert was a stunning presentation of Tiramisu. A swirl of chocolate, a hard, egg-like shell, and a sensational filling. Words can’t describe it, so take a gander at the photos. The maître ‘d asked which course we enjoyed the best. We decided we loved all of them, and said we would return in Spring for more.

It was a most memorable dinner, but it was getting late, and tomorrow is dialysis, so a taxi was called and we headed back to the Sofitel.


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