I am an omnivore in every sense of the word. I might live off of pizza and street food most days, but I’ve got room for poncy nouvelle cuisine. And, while I routinely reach the recommend daily fat allowance by noon, you won’t see me turn down cuisine minceur. Lucky for me, Il Pagliaccio covers both bases and does so very well.
I visited Friday on a whim, calling to reserve a table for lunch in a rare moment of motivation. I haven’t had the will to do much lately. I blame Lost. I watched two full seasons last week and nothing makes sense anymore, I’m lethargic, and I have difficulty envisioning what life will be like after the series finale on May 23. But I digress…
I showed up for my 1:30 p.m. reservation and was seated at a deuce near the window. The place was tranquil, and not just because I was the only one there. There is a peaceful atmosphere at Il Pagliaccio, the kind of calm that comes over a restaurant that is run well.
I perused the menu and, while I contemplated the 10-course tasting menu, I decided to order a la carte, as I wasn’t famished (Lost has also taken away my apetite). I selected the coffee glazed oyster and rabbit carpaccio (€40), an homage to Michel Guérard, as my starter. The sweet rabbit meat and savory mollusks married perfectly in this subtle and exceedingly light dish.
My main was capretto con fave e datteri (€45), six preparations of kid, including börek, chops, a kidney, and sweetbreads grilled in grape leaves. Each was delicate and tender. A date paste provided a sweet accompaniment to the meats. The sweetbreads, served on a bed of fresh fava beans, were a standout.
The capretto was fabulous and I wouldn’t have changed it for anything, but the only other diner in the restaurant ordered the tasting menu and I was a bit taken with jealousy over the 10 small portions that were shuttled to his table at regular intervals. Next time, the tasting menu has my name on it.
To conclude, I ordered frutta e noccioline (€20), an dessert of exotic fruit, peanuts, and dark chocolate dessert that resembled an edible abstract painting.
Such a finely executed meal was more that just a welcome change from my regular trattoria and pizzeria routine. It was an affirmation that courtesy, elegance, and professionalism are not completely absent from Roman dining. There is someplace in this city where a meal can be truly flawless from beginning to end and the service can be equal parts well-orchestrated, professional, and warm. I have a feeling the void left by the ending of Lost will be filled by fine dining, ideally every Tuesday night at 9 p.m., 8 central.
Ristorante Il Pagliaccio
Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 130 – Rome