On a recent trip to Le Marche and Abruzzo, we heeded the cautions of online posters, not to hire rental car and begin driving after an overnight flights to the US.
We were happy that we followed that advice. Among other treats, that stay introduced us to what I now think of as one of my favorite seafood restaurants in Italy. So esteemed is PASCUCCI AL PORTICCIOLO that I’ve since learned that many Romans make the drive from the centre to eat here when the craving for seafood strikes.
We had a memorable meal that first time so, at the close of our trip to the south last month, we opted for an overnight in Fiumicino after driving from inland Lazio and boarding our US-bound flight. As it turned out, I had messed up my dates and we had TWO nights in our Fiumicino hotel. HOTEL SECCY, where were were very fortunate to get the last remaining room for that second night.
A prime factor in the decision to stay in Fiumicino town was to have dinner at PASCUCCI AL PORTICCIOLO and, although I had some uncomfortable gastro issues that prevented me from ordered a full meal, I did very well with what I did order.
I had first read of this restaurant in Maureen Fant’s seminal and, sadly now out of print red-covered book about the trattorie of Rome, Florence and Venice that must have served well a generation of American travelers to Italy in the 80s and 90s. Many of the restaurants she covered are stalwarts, still going strong, including PASCUCCI.
I was disappointed that my current condition did not allow me to order several additional dishes, or the tasting menu. Nevertheless, our dinner was sublime. Empty when we arrived on a Friday night about 8pm, the spakling white dining rooms embellished with interesting colorful ceramics in blues and greens, became near to full by the time we exited.
Without going into much detail, I will post the photos of the two primi we ordered off the menu, which were complimented by a divine loaf of bread from the legendary Roscioli Romaan ovens (by far the best bread we had in Italy, Matera included!)
The bread could have provided a full dinner, alone, but here it was taken with a butter made with Cetarese anchovies, oregano, and a slice of pressed ink of squid…the black near-rectangle in the one of the photos. I’ve never had much luck with making flavored butters but now that I have arrived home with a supply of Cetarese anchovies, not to mention the colatura (not used in this butter) I will give this another attempt!!
Could this be the best bread-and-butter combo I’ve ever sampled? Very good chance!!!
Even before the bread made it debut, grissini!!! Si, si, si! House made, of course!
ROSCIOLI BREAD LOAF WITH ANCHOVY BUTTER; SECOND PHOTO SHOWS CHIP OF PRESSED AND DRIED SQUID INK:
Two simple pastas, ordered off menu because:
- I was under the weather.
- Partner is not adventurous enough for the menu highlights, many of which included crudi or shellfish
I WILL return to this restaurant and next time, hope to sample the tasting menu.
Advice to anyone flying in or out of Rome: Eschew the big-name chain hotels in the nowheresville between the airport and Fiumicino town. (Like staying along Rockaway Turnpike in Queens between flights from JFK). Horrid area! No choices for eating outside hotels…
The two primi, both impeccable, but not large:
Amatriciana, 16euro, and Spaghetti with Vongole, 20 euro, with tiny clams removed from their shells and placed daintily atop the swirl of pasta.
Total, with water: 40 euro!!!
Complimentary dessert: A tris of “fruits” and “peanut” molded with chocolate (??) into something delectable and which I didi not fully understand and cannot now describe accurately, but they were divine, as this photo depicts…have to examine all details before consumation!!
Service was impeccable. Warm, welcoming, smiling. Handsome series of dining rooms with tables indoors and out, just off the Tiber canal, a short walk of about 15 minutes to our hotel in Fiumicino that takes you over the pedestrian bridge and through lively and well-lit areas brimming with life, and great-looking restaurants, one of which we would sample the following day, or last in Italy, for now.
NOTE: The restaurant also offers rooms on a B&B basis. I’d checked this out and am sure it would be a great option but rooms do look small and since I usually leave Italy laden with all manner or cartons filled with food…need a large room to prepare luggage for flight…
(((I did not yet cover the Senise,Tursi, Matera portion of the trip but my carton of Senise peppers made it back to NYC unexamined by USDA and these now hang in my pantry…will include recipe that started my quest for these difficult-to-find peppers inn the chapter on inland Basilicata, to come!!)