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In a state of hibernation. My backlog has long become unsustainable. Will probably tweet more and write less full-length stuff.

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Wednesday
Aug102011

Corsetti Il Galeone

Corsetti Il Galeone, family-run since 1922, is a low profile restaurant along Piazza San Cosimato in Trastavere. I first went there maybe 12 years ago when I visited Rome as a young lad. It holds a bit of a special place in my heart - one of my fondest memories of Italy for the past decade has been eating risotto at Il Galeone. It was a required stop for this trip because I had to figure out whether my memory of that risotto was just nostalgia, or if the risotto was really that good.

While the restaurant looks the same on the outside, we were surprised to discover that the ground floor has been renovated into a modern dining room. Before, the entire restauranted was decorated like the inside of a galleon, and it turns out just the upstairs dining area has kept the kitschy old ship theme. I recommend you sit downstairs.

The food is generally Roman and leans toward seafood, and from the looks of it, the menu hasn't changed much since I was in high school. As usual, there were too many things (mostly pastas) we wanted to try, so we ordered more than 3 people probably should...

 

FUNGHI PORCINI ARROSTO - €18We started with these hearty grilled porcinis - flavorful with a good char. Deliciously simple.

 

FRITTURA ASSORTITA DI PARANZA - €20Next was this assortment of the day's seafood, including calamari, shrimp, various small fish/sardines, and more. Lots of crunchy items which I enjoyed. Overall, not quite as good as Al Porto, but still tasty.

 

TAGLIOLINI CON GAMBERI, VONGOLE VERACI E FIORI DI ZUCCHINA - €15First in our parade of pastas was this tagliolini with shrimp, clams, and squash blossoms. We wanted to sample one of the fresh ones as our other selections were all dry. The noodles had nice body and bounce, with light flavoring from the seafood and blossoms.

 

RISOTTO ALLA CREMA DI SCAMPI - €18At long last, the scampi risotto. This is one of the more legendary dishes of my life, and as soon as the beautiful fragrance of scampi hit the table I could tell my memory wasn't being glorified. This risotto is what I feel risotto should strive to be. The rice was perfectly cooked, al dente but not raw, with each grain individually distinct from the others. The sauce was silky smooth - creamy but not watery (with absolutely zero coagulation), and intensely flavorful. Also, there wasn't much actual scampi in the dish, but it wasn't about the meat. The taste of the scampi dominated the rice, surely thanks to some giant pot of scampi shells in the kitchen being reduced into the sauce's base.

Despite the huge advances in quality we've seen in SF Italian cuisine, I've still yet to have a risotto here that comes close to this. It's the best I've ever had. Perfect risotto. Worth noting: the reason the lighting is better in this photo is because Geoff and I went back to Il Galeone for lunch on our last day, and I snapped a picture in the daylight. This had to be eaten twice.

 

BUCATINI ALLA'AMATRICIANA - €12The Roman favorite, featuring thick, hollow bucatini with guanciale, tomato, and pecorino. A great rendition with savory pieces of pork and very sweet tomatoes.

 

SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE VERACI - €12We're always looking for a good vongole, and Il Galeone's version is excellent. Nice, briny clams, expertly-handled spaghetti, and just the right level of garlic/olive oil. Best of all, no extraneous liquid to speak of.

 

TAGLIATA DI MANZO - €20We finished off with a little bit of meat. I generally love tagliata (steak cut into thin slices), but despite how juicy it looks, it was just so-so. The meat was a little tougher than expected - stick with the seafood, I guess. It also came with a great side of roasted potatoes which I neglected to photograph.

At this point we were completely stuffed, and decided to skip dessert.

I love Corsetti Il Galeone... it's the kind of restaurant that has been around forever and just keeps on doing what it does (and doing it well). The service is friendly and welcoming. It has zero international profile and no buzz around it, and the nondescript storefront would seem like a totally random place to walk into. Yet it delivers straight up delicious food. I know there are restaurants like this hidden all over Italy, and I'm just glad we found this place. It's all about the food here, and the risotto makes it a must-visit any time I go back to Rome.

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Reader Comments (1)

The risotto photo looks really great! And I have to say, even with the extra 30 years' experience of eating some of the best Italian food in the world, this is the best risotto I've ever had myself. A must indeed for anyone visiting Rome!

It's quite disappointing that we don't get better risotto in SF. After all, the city has a larger than average rice eating population. But I guess the average Yelper has less respect and understanding of rice than the average Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Italians and Spaniards. Hence the ridiculous high praise for the Salt Cod Fried Rice at Mission Chinese Food, which shows a complete ignorance of the very basic requirement for good rice making - " with each grain individually distinct from the others". The MCF fried rice is really meshed rice paste. This is not about ethnic authenticity, it's simply what good food is or is not.

I guess the fun about eating out in SF is the contradiction as well. We get very high quality pastas and pizzas, just not risotto.
Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:29PM | Unregistered CommenterRaphael

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