My meal at Il Pagliaccio yesterday was bookended by Marion Lichtle encounters. The restaurant’s pastry chef, one of Italy’s most respected, was standing outside in her pin striped apron chatting with a friend when I walked up to the entrance. She opened the door for me and as I passed across the threshold I was teleported to a land far far away where restaurants are civilized, service is courteous, and attention to detail is paramount. After a spectacular meal, I ordered Ms. Lichtle’s frutta e noccioline, a dessert that plays sweet exotic fruits–a caramelized miniature banana, mango, and prickly pear–off salty peanuts and bitter dark chocolate. The dessert hit all the right sweet and savory contrast notes for me and concluded a flawlessly executed meal. On my way out, I ran into Lichtle again. She was dressed in street clothes and rushing out the door. Why anyone would be in a hurry to leave the perfect calm of Il Pagliaccio is beyond me.

Ristorante Il Pagliaccio
Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a, Roma
Tel. 06-6880-9595