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New Delhi, India
September 4, 2006
We weren’t mistaken- for we found, tucked away in a lane just short of the Trevi, a lovely little restaurant called Hostaria Romana. The Hostaria Romana was nothing short of serendipity- a chance glance towards the left, and there was a beckoning golden light streaming out of the windows, illuminating what looked to be a very contented crowd of diners. We went and checked out the menu (written up in English and Italian, and affixed to the outer wall of the restaurant). It sounded good- and not vastly exorbitant. So in we went.
The door opened into a place of bustle, merry chatter, the clatter of dishes, the swish of napkins flying as waiters scurried past. A narrow vestibule, about four feet in length, extended from the door, before spreading out on both sides into the restaurant. In front of us, a few steps led down into another space, equally jam-packed with diners. The walls in the lower room were covered with graffiti scribbled by appreciative patrons.
After a wait of about fifteen minutes, we were finally led to a table. Squeezing our way between the adjoining tables, we sat down, and were almost immediately handed our menus- by a greying and rotund waiter who sang as he worked. He took our order, repeated it back to us, served us, got us our bill- and uttered everything in a somewhat offkey, singsong voice.
But the food. Ah, the food. Tarun ordered a huge portion of roast suckling pig, deliciously crisp on the outside, and juicy. I decided to opt for a Roman specialty- osso buco. I’ve had osso buco before, but never so wonderful. The veal was exquisitely cooked: moist and tender, with the sauce, peas and mushrooms providing the perfect balance to the richness of the meat itself. Tarun’s order came with a side of roast potatoes and gravy; in addition, we got a bread basket full of fresh rolls. And- as if that wasn’t enough- we got starters, on the house. These consisted of crisp golden potato croquettes, and suppli- leftover risotto rolled around a cube of mozzarella and then fried, so the cheese melts into the most irresistibly chewy strands. Yum!This being Italy (and we being addicted to wine!), we ordered a carafe of red wine to go with our meal. By the time we finished, we were so full, we had difficulty making our way to the door.
Final analysis: great place. Friendly, relaxed, affordable (we spent €34 for our feast), and the food- with lots of classic pasta dishes, seafood, and a range of meat and poultry- is awesome. And there’s live entertainment too- if the singing steward happens to be serving you.
From journal The Pagan Pleasures of Rome
New Jersey, New Jersey
September 7, 2005
From journal Honeymoon in Italy
New York, New York
June 30, 2004
As to the food, well, it’s just heavenly! It was here that we experienced the most exquisite dishes of Pasta Carbona, seared prawns, antipasti and homemade ravioli ever created. Although it was humanly impossible to consume any more, we practically shed a few tears when our food was finished. And desserts? Let’s just say that the lemon cake could be considered an aphrodisiac!
As if the experience of dining here weren’t enough, patrons also have the opportunity to leave their mark in the eternal city. Before bidding their customers farewell, the waiters present them with a small box of crayons and invite them to sign and doodle on the walls. Students, athletes, politicians, celebrities and tourists from all around the world have been signing away for so many years that it’s now begun on the ceilings! I managed to find a small spot just large enough to write a simple heartfelt sentiment: Che un pranzo meraviglioso! The restaurant is open everyday except for Sunday and reservations are usually not necessary.
From journal Rome: A Lifetime Is Not Enough