Rome Carbonara Club – Secret Business
When I posted a story of my love for the quintessential roman carbonara a couple of weeks ago I never anticipated being invited to join a Carbonara Club – or that there even was such a thing!
The term Club is used in a light, informal sense and refers to a group of fellow Rome-homers (I don’t love using the word expat) and some local Romans who go out in search for the best carbonara the city has to offer.
Tonight was my baptism into this Club. And I’m hooked.
The restaurant was Da Enzo in Trastevere and I knew it was going to be great.
Firstly I was told that it had been recommended to the group organiser by a local – so you can generally guarantee its authenticity from the outset.
The second sign that we were in for a treat was what I saw on arrival. Getting there first and waiting out front for the other Club members I noticed a queue starting to build. Then as soon as they opened their doors they started knocking back group after group because they didn’t have a booking.
Now, with no shortage of restaurants in this town (and especially in Trastevere) if people (and Romans) are lining up to eat somewhere, you can bet that it’s a place not to be missed.
Da Enzo is a simple, classic Roman trattoria. Here you sit table to table. Drink wine out of the same glass as you do water. The tables are covered with blue paper tablecloths. And you are served by waiters who treat you like family and are charmingly Roman (and by Roman, I mean welcoming, loud, funny and always ready to crack a joke).
For antipasto we ordered the fiori di zucca – fried zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese, an anchovy which gave it just the right amount of saltiness and encassed in a batter that was superbly light and crisp. We also shared the recommended burrata di andria.
Now for those of you who still don’t know what burrata is (even after reading my blog) – well firstly, shame on you! You don’t know goodness and happy places until you try it! The word burrata means buttered in English (and as you know, anything remotely related to butter is going to be divine). This cheese is like mozzarella yet it is really soft and creamy on the inside. The production process involves the still-hot cheese to be formed into something of a pouch or like a money bag filled with mozzarella and cream before being sealed and tied into a knot on top. This one in particular originates from Puglia (the heel region of Italy) and was probably the highlight of my entire meal.
For main course, I had – you guessed it – rigatoni carbonara. But it wasn’t just any carbonara. It’s one of the better ones I’ve had in Rome. The guanciale (pork cheek) was cut a little larger than I’m usually used to so I thought it may have lost its crunch. To the contrary. They were the ultimate crispy morsels of pork deliciousness. And the egg sauce was just the perfect consistency with the right amount of pecorino cheese. I was in carbonara heaven.
But I didn’t polish it all off. Because as those of you who know me well will attest, for all my talk of food and how much I love it, it is truly just a means to an end for me – in that it brings me to dessert 🙂
All the desserts on the menu were fatti in casa homemade and we tried the tiramisu with a twist (it had nutella in it) and fresh berries and fragoline (gorgeous tiny strawberries) with marscapone cream.
All in all, my first Carbonara Club appointment was a super fun night spent chatting over red wine with the discussion interesting and varied but always reverting back to food and of course – carbonara.
The staff or others in the restaurant weren’t aware that they were in the fine company of five auspicious members of the Carbonara Club. In fact, it felt like we were there on some special secret society business… an air of mystery about us – which truth be told, I quite like really.
I’m already looking forward to the next one and the mandatory post-dinner walk to burn off all those calories!
So if you’re in the area, check out Trattoria Da Enzo,Via dei Vascellari 29, Roma (Trastevere). Be sure to make a reservation or get there early. But if you must, don’t let the queue deter you – I guarantee it will be worth the wait.
Signing off from Rome,