Friday, September 18, 2009

Rome: Our first meal in Italy, Lunch @ Alfredo

The last few weeks of our life have been full of traveling, moving, and adjusting to our new life in Chicago. We've finally settled back down to a somewhat normal routine that will give us some time to catch up on the blog, so expect a heavy does of Italy over the next few days.

Prior to our trip, we had spent a bit of time scouring the New York Times food page, Chow Hound, and a few other similar places for restaurant recommendations, but our first meal ended up being a somewhat random stop. We were trying to find a place called Volpetti, but weren't having much luck. Our flight into Rome was an overnight flight, in which we couldn't really sleep much (tip to travelers: avoid Alitalia like the plague. The Alitalia plane we flew on was hands down the crappiest plane I have ever been on.) and the night before our flight we only had about 3 hours of sleep. Needless to say, we were hungry, exhausted, hot, and in need of food. When we decided to throw in the towel for our search for Volpetti, we were right next to a restaurant called Alfredo of "Fettucine Alfredo" fame. We didn't order this dish, and I wasn't expecting much. I thought that it might be the kind of place that was a total tourist trap. The food turned out to be pretty good. We ordered the spaghetti carbonara and tagliolini with speck, squash blossom, and asparagus.

The carbonara looked a lot different than the version that I make, and it had a nice bright yellow color to it that I assume came from the yolks of some good eggs. They were much yellower than any non-farmers market eggs that you get in the states. They also used guanciale instead of pancetta or bacon, which are often used back here in the states. Guanciale is a far superior choice for this dish as it has a much less dominant flavor and does a better job blending in with the other ingredients of the dish.
While the carbonara is a mainstay of Roman cuisine, the tagliolini tasted much more like a seasonal specialty.
There are hundreds of great restaurants in Rome, so I don't know if this merits a dinner stop if you are traveling through, but it was a good place for lunch. The pasta was pretty good, and it is located in the midst of a number of the main tourist attractions in Rome, so it might make a natural lunch stop.

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