Girarrosto Fiorentino is another one of those old-school restaurants in the heart of Rome. It's got some recognition on the tourist circuit, and supposedly has played host to many Hollywood movie stars over the years. Its heyday was probably back in the 70s and 80s, but it remains a pretty popular spot for a traditional Tuscan meal in the city.
As the name would suggest, they specialize in Florentine cuisine, and are known for their bistecca. The menu is long but fairly basic - a huge list of simple pastas, grilled meats, and so on. Given that we had just come from Florence, we weren't really looking to eat Tuscan food specifically. Instead, we went to eat their tagliolini al limone, a simple pasta dish I had here when I was a kid. Along with the risotto at Il Galeone, it was the most memorable thing I ate back in the day.
The decor at Girarrosto Fiorentino is standard traditional Italian joint. Heck, you could swap its dining room with North Beach Restaurant in SF and no one would be the wiser. The lunchtime crowd seemed to consist of older Italian guys having business lunches, a handful of tourists, and most hilariously, Italian Seth Rogen (he's Seth Rogen, but slimmer and better dressed). I hope I didn't violate any privacy laws by posting that spy photo.
We were happy to find that white truffles were on offer that day. Girarrosto does basic pastas very well, so we were eager to have some truffles on a plain tagliolini. I took a ghetto shaky-cam video of the truffle shaving in action. I promise I'll switch to HD widescreen videos after this.
As you can see, our friendly waiter used the awesome technique of shaving a few small bits onto the pasta first, tossing it together a bit, then shaving on a bunch more. This strategy is totally and absolutely Arthur Hungry Approved.
The finished product was great, as expected. The truffles had good flavor and fragrance. The tagliolini was well-cooked, with just a little bit of liquid to blend everything together. There are few things I love more than simple fresh pasta with white truffles.
The reason for our visit was this taglioni with lemon cream sauce. It doesn't look like much, but the subtlety of the sauce allows the noodles to be the highlight of the dish. The cream has a smooth, fresh, lemon flavor that complements the pasta without overpowering it. When I tried this years ago, I learned that more often than not, the simplest pastas end up being the best. This tagliolini is the perfect example.
We also opted to try this classic risotto preparation. Pretty good, with some tasty chunks of porcini, but a little heavy-handed on the parsley in my opinion.
For a main, I went with this simple veal marsala. Tender veal, tasty and slightly sweet marsala wine sauce. Not much different than what you can find back home, but still good.
The mains came with some choices of sides. The roasted potatoes were excellent (a trend - roasted/fried potatoes seem to be delicious throughout Italy). The artichokes were quite large and very tender.
We saw some of our favorite wild strawberries going to another table and got a little bit to share. I'm no expert on these, and surely there must be some variance in quality, but it seems like these are always sweet and delicious.
It's a little funny looking back that we were having all these big lunches, with pastas followed by main courses. When in Rome, I guess. I was very happy to experience the tagliolini with lemon once again... I'll probably return for it on future trips. Definitely a good way to spend a valuable meal.