Hi again all - sorry for the hiatus. I'm happy to report that I'll be going to grad school this fall, pursuing a Master's degree at the UC Berkeley School of Information. I'm very excited to start. It also means I've got this upcoming summer free, so get ready for a heavy dose of pictures from the rest of my Europe trip.
Continuing where I left off... after a short train ride from Florence to Rome, we were eager to see what the big city had on offer. I've been to Rome before (as a child and a teenager), and some of those old meals have stuck in my mind for a long time. Before I discovered sushi, Italian was my favorite kind of food, and that was largely due to some spectacular pastas I had in Rome when I was younger. On this most recent trip, I was excited to see if those great memories were the real deal, or just pure nostalgia.
We opted to have our first dinner at Ristorante Tullio, a nice but no-frills trattoria near Piazza Barberini. My dad thought it would be a good place to get some simple white truffles. The unassuming front is home to a very old-school Italian vibe, with gentlemanly waiters, bright lights, and simple decor. The crowd was a mix of older locals, a sprinkling of tourists, and, surprisingly, some young folks. We were seated next to an elderly couple who seemed like they had been going for 30 years, and a larger table of hip 20-somethings celebrating a birthday. It made for pretty good people watching, to say the least.
The goal here was to get some simply-prepared white truffles. My dad opted for the egg version, shown above, which was baked lightly in the oven. The truffles were fragrant and powerful, and the eggs just the right level of runny. Truffles and eggs are a delicious combination, and this preparation was a perfect demonstration.
Geoff and I opted for the heftier tagliolini to start. These were truffles in their purest form, at home on a bed of buttery fresh pasta. It's my favorite way to eat them, and the quality of these truffles was top-notch. I've always found that truffle oils, butters, and other derived products do a good job of giving some truffle fragrance (though it can dissipate quickly), but only the real deal offers the intense taste of truffles. There's just no way to replicate it. It's costly, but at least these huge truffle shavings were very generous. This was heaven on a plate for a pasta lover like me.
The menu at Tullio is pretty straightforward. There's a bit of a Tuscan lean with various grilled meats that are simply prepared. I opted for this roasted veal chop, which was tender with a nice bit of char.
They have a wide selection of antipastis and sides. We went with artichokes cooked with herbs, garlic, and olive oil, a quintessential Roman preparation. Simple and tasty.
Conveniently, Tullio carries Giolitti, one of the big names in Italian gelato, which was on my list to try. I went with hazelnut, arguably my favorite ice cream flavor, and this version was delicious. A good balance of creaminess and flavor, without the overpowering sweetness.
We also got an order of the fragoline di bosco, a species of little wild strawberries that are fairly common in Italy but virtually unseen here in the US. They're delicious - slightly tart and slightly sweet - and complemented perfectly with some crema-flavored gelato.
All in all, a great first meal in Rome. Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but a nice setup for the city. We certainly got our white truffle fix...