Saturday, July 30, 2011

Ristorante Enoteca Corsi (Rome, Italy)

Buongiorno da Italia!

R., his mom, and I are in Italy on vacation.  We landed in Rome at 9:30 am Friday morning local time.  It was almost noon by the time we made it to our hotel, and after dropping off our luggage, we took a taxi to Chiesa del Gesu (Church of the Gesu), near the Pantheon and the Piazza Navona.  But we were hungry after having had only a light (and not to mention nasty) dinner on the plane ride over, so we decided to grab some lunch first.

R. had been studying Rick Steve's guide book and knew of a family-owned restaurant called Enoteca Corsi located on one of the many little narrow streets near the church, so off we went.  Once we arrived, a waiter waved us back and led us through one section of the restaurant where hundreds - maybe even thousands - bottles of wine lined the walls.  (Turns out the restaurant used to be a wine shop.)  The restaurant itself very casual and has a hole-in-the-wall feel to it.  It was not too busy when we got there but filled up quickly after a while, mostly with locals, so the place felt very authentic.  I mean, an Italian restaurant in Italy should feel authentic, but they can also be very touristy, and we didn't get that impression at Enoteca Corsi.  We felt like we were truly experiencing Italian culture.  The fluorescent-lit back section where we were seated had only about five tables and I commented that it looked like the decor hadn't been updated since the 1940's.  With storage boxes in different sizes and shapes lining the wall shelves up near the ceiling, there was little sign of any effort in creating a certain atmosphere, though there is something about it that's very honest.  It's a bit like visiting your best friend's house, which is not always perfectly tidied up and presentable, but you always feel warmly welcomed whenever you happen to swing by.  Claudia, who was actually mentioned in Rick Steve's book, was our server, and giggled excitedly when we told her she was in the book.  She is part of the Paiella family who owns the restaurant, and she is super friendly and spoke excellent English, which was good because we didn't speak any Italian other than important stuff like "mi scusi, dov'e il bagno?" ("Excuse me, where is the bathroom?")

Wine at Enoteca Corsi
Wall of wine (imagine at least 10x more at the restaurant)
It looks like the menu changes every day, and Friday's selection included quite a few fish items.  R. went with the Baccala alla livornese (baked codfish with prunes, onions, and tomato sauce) which sounded appealing to me as well, but having just had fish in the past week, I was a little bit "fished out," so instead I ordered the Lasagna al forno (baked lasagna with meat and tomato sauce).  R.'s mom ordered the Pasta e ceci (chickpea soup with pasta) and a side of steamed spinach.  Our food arrived in, like, no time!

Baccala alla livornese (Baked Codfish with Prunes, Onions, and Tomato Sauce) at Enoteca Corsi
Baccala alla livornese

Lasagna al forno (Baked Lasagna with Meat and Tomato Sauce) at Enoteca Corsi
Lasagna al forno

Pasta e ceci (Chickpea Soup with Pasta) at Enoteca Corsi
Pasta e ceci

I had a bite of everyone else's meals, but while everything was super tasty, I am very glad that I got the lasagna as it definitely stole the show.  Interestingly, there wasn't an overwhelming amount of sauce like you normally see in the USA, and yet it was molto delizioso!  So good we are still talking about it today and we even recommended the restaurant to someone else!

Rick Steve's book says that anyone who brings in his book gets complimentary housemade limoncello which sounded fabulous, so we ordered some.  Ignorant tourists that we were, we had no idea it was alcohol until Claudia proceeded to bring us the self-serve, half-filled bottle that was clearly meant to be shared amongst all the restaurants' guests who wants some.  R.'s mom and I were actually just saying that there would be no wine in Rome for us on the first day as we were feeling a bit woozy from having just gotten off a plane and not having slept for more than 24 hours by that point, and we needed the energy to last another 8 hours before it is night time in Rome.  Then we saw the word "liquore" on the bottle and the label on the back read "Alc. 32% vol," and we started cracking up at ourselves. Since we had already asked for the limoncello, we figured we'd try some.  I had a very tiny little sip - now I am no lush, but I drink fairly regularly and do have a tolerance for alcohol - but combined with the fact that I was already fighting exhaustion, this little sip definitely gave me a nice little buzz.  I wish I could have had more, but I figured collapsing at one of the churches we were about to visit was probably not the ideal way to begin our Italian excursion!  Which was too bad, because the limoncello was really delicious.

Limoncello at Enoteca Corsi

Limoncello at Enoteca Corsi
My piccolo sip of limoncello.

Enoteca Corsi was such a delight.  We all loved the food and the atmosphere, and I am very glad that we picked it for our first real Italian meal!

Restaurant info:
Ristorante Enoteca Corsi
Via del Gesu, 87/88, Roma
06 679 0821

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