Grappolo d’Oro Zampano

Via della Cancelleria 80
066 897080
http://www.grappolodorozampano.it/

Usually, restaurants that are located near touristy places are those we tend to avoid. Hence, when our guide book brought us to Grappolo d’Oro, located near the Piazza Nuovo in pretty much the heart of touristy Rome, plus the fact that it was practically empty when we were there, you can imagine how apprehensive we were.

Our server was a very nice Albanian, who was very attentive and, perhaps because there weren’t any other diners, we ended up chatting with him for quite a while. He gave us some recommendations on what to order, and we went ahead with it. The result was a fantastic and unforgettable meal. We loved it so very much we went back again on our last day in Rome, and this time, the owner himself served us.

 

We had the cod (if memory serves us well) carpaccio salad, which was fantastic. It was a very crisp and clean salad, with nice fresh herbs and tomatoes, perfect for a hot summer day. Sadly, when we went back and ordered it again, it was as if a totally different dish was presented to us. The fish was cooked and was rather hard, as compared to the translucent, thin delicate slices the first time round. This was a major disappointment for us as we loved it so much the first time we had it.

 

We also had the beef in balsamic vinegar. This was fantastic as well, and A loved the way the sauce complemented the beef in such an unexpected way. The beef was tender and cooked just the way she liked it. It was a very light dish, despite it being a steak, and extremely novel in the use of the balsamic sauce/dressing.

 

On our second visit, we had the fried fishes, which I loved thoroughly. What’s not to like about fried food? The amazing thing was that through all the frying, the fishes still tasted fresh. With a little more salt, this dish would have been perfect.

 

Inspired perhaps by our fantastic baby squid pasta in Hosteria Toledo, we ordered the seafood pasta. This one didn’t quite match up to the pasta dish in Hosteria Toledo, but it was still pretty good in its own right.

The highlight of the whole entire meal, and perhaps also our entire food experiences in Italy, would be the Carbonara at Grappolo d’Oro. Outside the restaurant is a proud sign showing the top 10 Carbonara in Rome. Grappolo d’Oro is featured at Number 4. As such, there were very high expectations put on this dish, and we’re very happy to announce that this met all expectations, then some. The carbonara at Grappolo d’Oro absolutely puts all other carbonaras to shame.

To begin with, it was artfully twirled on the plate, with a generous sprinkling of cheese and bacon all over it. There was no cream at all, and the egg yolk that was stirred into the pasta held up the entire dish very well. Words completely escape me here, but this was the holy grail of carbonara, and we were honored to be able to find it, and taste it. The combination of the black pepper, sea salt, bacon, and all the yummy goodness in the eggy pasta was simply divine. In fact, after my second visit to Grappolo d’Oro, I swore off all carbonara as I refused to let that divine memory of that perfect carbonara be tainted by a lesser carbonara. It was indeed that good.

 

As mentioned, on our second visit the owner himself served us, and after our meal he brought out this amazing bottle of Moscato di Pantelleria, from which he poured 2 shots, one for A and one for myself. We love sweet wine, and Moscato was our dessert wine of choice for that particular trip of ours to Italy. However, we’re used to having it with just ~5% alcohol content. This wine which the owner poured for us was ~17%, and was incredibly rich and totally sealed the deal for us. Grappolo d’Oro is now our favourite restaurant in all of Italy.

Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10

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