Sherman's Food Adventures: La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali

Boy it was quite the day of travelling to get to Rome.  First we made it to Schipol after 9 hours and then endured a flight delay and finally made it to Rome 15 hours after our day had started.  Then a taxi driver at the airport tried to scam us, so we got out of his taxi only to forget my camera in it.  Had to track him down to get it back.  Made it to our hotel after a train ride on the Leonardo Express and by the time we hit La Taverna dei Fior Imperiali, it was over 24 hours since we had slept.  Luckily we made a reso because the place was full for most of the night!

We started our late night meal (at least that is how it felt like to us) with the Fritto Misto Della Casa with 2 zucchini flowers with mozzarella & anchovies, cod, honey & mint ricotta cheese & hazelnuts and zucchini.  Loved this dish as the batter was super crispy and fairly light.  My favourite items was the ricotta as it was springy and fluffy.  The drizzle of honey really elevated the flavours.  That cod was also good being flaky and light with the crunch from the batter as the perfect foil to the soft texture of the fish.  

They had an Octopus special which was pretty delicious too.  It sat atop an eggplant caponata with crunchy breadcrumbs, olives, tomato, pinenuts and rosemary.  There was a generous amount of octopus that was tender while still retaining a bite.  Outside, it was gilled up with portions of crispiness.  Good textural contrast with the tender meat.  As for the caponata, the eggplant was perfect being soft while having a firm skin.  The flavours were on point with tang, sweetness, saltiness and some aromatics.

We picked the Vignarola di Fave with artichokes, peas and Roman guanciale as our side and it was tasty as well.  The fava beans were cooked down until they were soft as were the peas.  The intense meatiness from the rendered fat from the guanciale added body and saltiness to the dish.  I found the guanciale to be rather intense as it was salty on its own with a firm texture.  It burst with a cured saltiness that needed the mild beans and peas to act as a blank canvas.

Onto our pastas, we tried the Carbonara with the same guanciale and pecorino romano cheese.  The tube pasta was dead perfect with an al dente chewiness that had a great mouth feel while still being tender enough to eat.  Being large and thick, the pasta stood up to the heaviness of the carbonara. The intensity of the guanciale was evident with each bite.  This was further enhanced by the cheese as it added another layer of saltiness as well as nutiness.

We had their featured pasta of the night that was somewhat similar.  It featured guanciale again with fresh figs.  Employing the same Paccheri as the carbonara, the texture was firm and slightly dense, yet still completely chewable.  Since there was plenty of rendered guanciale, the dish had a deep saltiness as well as a luxurious fattiness.  With some pecorino romano, we found a close flavour profile with the carbonara except for one major difference - the fresh figs.  That lightened up the heavy dish somewhat and provided a bright sweetness.

Our favourite pasta was the Gnocchi with white veal ragout and black truffles.  Although the gnocchi was a little on the lukewarm side, it had a great texture.  There was a certain firmness with each bite while still being soft.  Due to the saltiness of the previous 2 pastas, the mildness of the meaty ragout was welcomed.  It was rather meaty too.  Naturally, the addition of shaved black truffles added woodsiness.

Onto our bigger plates, we had the Veal Saltimbocca with prosciutto, sage and white wine sauce.  I really enjoyed this one as well since the veal was meaty while tender.  The addition of prosciutto on top added more meatiness and of course saltiness.  The white wine really came through in the final flavour profile with a certain booziness yet still cooked down.  Although not looking like much, the side of roast potatoes were excellent being soft and tender with a slightly crisp exterior.

Last dish was the Grilled Vacche Grasse Rib Eye Steak served with the same roast potatoes as the veal.  Although the quality of the beef was quite good, it was cooked to about medium-well.  That in itself made it a touch too firm and of course no longer juicy.  However, it was still plenty tender with good natural beef flavour.  The rosemary butter served on top added a woodsiness nuttiness.  Throughout the meal, we were literally falling asleep, but the food was solid enough that it kept our attention.  A great start to our European trip and really appreciated the warm family atmosphere of the restaurant.

The Good:
- Solid home-style eats
- Wonderful people, very welcoming
- Reasonable-pricing

The Bad:
- Steak was a little overdone
- Food was a bit salty


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