March 1st was a good day for me. I asked a friend where I should have a celebratory lunch in Rome. I was recommended Maccheroni, a small restaurant in Piazza Delle Coppelle. “The best carbonara in Rome”. I simply had to see for myself.
Maccheroni is near Piazza Navona, a square replete with memories and indeed where I fell in love with my Claudia. This restaurant had a lot to live up to.
Looking up its location on google maps, it immediately ticked the first box of my “Good Restaurant Criteria”, namely that it was just far enough from the Piazza to discourage tourists. Box number two was ticked when I saw the dilapidated outer appearance and fading sign. This tells me that the restaurant doesn’t need to invest in appearances (beauty fades after all) because it is renown enough. The clientele is established. Funds can now be channelled into excellent quality ingredients or remunerating staff. Though, in my experience of restaurants of Italy, this rarely happens. The third box was ticked once I entered: clients. Everyone there was wearing a suit and tie, including myself. At least I didn’t feel left out. Fourth box, perhaps the most irksome: restricted opening hours. Find out more about Maccheroni’s Opening hours here.
I was seated next to the kitchen, which I consider a great privilege. I watched the chefs like a hawk. I took in every detail of what they were doing to my carbonara. As you can see the chef didn’t appreciate my curiosity.
For a starter, I was reccomended the ricotta tartufatta. Everything on that plate vanished within minutes. I kept saying to myself; what an excellent combination of flavours. From the bowl made from lettuce to the creamy light ricotta mixed with tangy truffle. The tomatoes were superbly flavoursome. Even the rocket burst to life. Perhaps I’m using hyperbolic language because I am not accustomed to eating so well. But to my humble palate, this was a true delight.
The carbonara came next. It is pictured below, it deserves it’s own space.
Exquisite is the only word. Guanciale; pecorino; one egg per person and a little of the cooking water added in to make the mixture extra creamy. I remember thinking about the symphony playing in my head when I ate the first bite. Mahler’s 1st for March 1st. Tentative at first, but slowly increasing in tempo to end in a thunderous crescendo of culinary delight.
The portion size was quite impressive too. In all, it was almost too authentic a dish. I was suspicious of this restaurant because everything was wonderful. The food was great, the staff were attentive and kind to one another. At first, they got my order wrong and brought me a caccio e pepe. This is one of my favourite dishes in the world, after amatriciana. I was on a cloud nine so I didn’t mind but they wanted to get everything right. They gave my dish to one of the chefs who proceeded to thoroughly enjoy it. An effective team leads to a much more content customer.
Authentic; high quality; genuine staff and outstanding service. If you have a spare moment for lunch in the historic centre of Rome, go to Maccheroni. Amazement guaranteed.