I do not have a picture of the most perfect bowl of pasta I have ever eaten… But that does not mean I don’t remember every savory bite to perfection.
The restaurant that held such bowl of heaven was tucked away in a corner of Rome, underneath a staircase in walking distance to il Colosseo, but in a residential area nonetheless. While I hesitated to enter such a hidden treasure cove, I ventured with a true Roman and remained hopeful for the night, knowing I was in good hands.
Two kisses, each cheek. Two hugs, each owner. One booth, two friends.
Without even ordering, the chef asked rosso o biano to which I replied ambo and was prepared to be whisked away in the magical and lively restaurant. Smiles adorned the walls with photos of old guests, perhaps the same ones still there today.
As I struggled to communicate with my friend in a mix of Spanish, Italian and English, Italian music played in the background while families chatted and laughed as the restaurant began to fill. A clear, crisp white wine accompanied conversation and then…
The fresh cheese grated atop a mountain of freshly prepared pasta made my tounge drip with enthusiasm, anticipating each bite and burst of flavor that would follow. The broccoli was steamed to pure perfection, melting on my tongue between the cheese and the freshly made pasta.
Oh the homemade pasta! Why hast thou made every pasta dish taste like rubbish when compared to thee?
It was like my whole life had led to this moment. My tastebuds, my senses had eaten their whole life in training for this one bowl of pasta. Who knew?
But now, I was faced with a horrible connundrum: How fast do I want to eat this bowl? I must savor every rich and fresh bite. How could cheese be so rich? Olive oil so refreshing? Broccoli so fresh?
As I paused between bites while floating in pure cheesy bliss, I pondered on those around me. I was a foreigner among foreigners- the only American (or non-Italian, really) in the quaint family restaurant. And as such, the owner insisted on signing Volare to me personally in a manner that made my dream of living The Lizzie McGuire Movie come to life.
I must enjoy the atmosphere, the wine, the Italian that graced my ears in the background… This pasta that was crafted by Roman gods with broccoli that was farmed by Ceres and Saturn themselves, cheese from perhaps the happiest goat on Earth, and olives from the Holy Land. I never wanted this bowl to end.
And alas. All good things must come to an end. A seafood course followed, but nothing could compare to my one true love: Pasta Bowl.
In true Italian fashion, the gentleman subsequently gifted our table with a crisp, clean white dessert wine that paired perfectly with crunchy and creamy cannolis. Heaven must have a special table for cannolis- the perfect combination of crunch and clouds, of sweet and savory.
After a four hour meal and a trip to Italian paradise, the meal was completed, and we said our ciao’s and grazie’s before heading out into the crisp spring night. The stars had been twinkling for many hours, and the streets were preparing for a night of rest. A quick Vespa ride rendered me to my hotel- to my American reality and to the end of a perfect Roman night.
But alas, dear Pasta Bowl, mi amore, may you always rest on my tastebuds.
While I do not have a picture of this meal, here is me enjoying another meal the day before that I thought was amazing before I had the best pasta of my life… And a picture of the Coliseum from that night. Look at how happy and naïve I was.