Funny story. Hrabi is trying to get his boat license. Not because we own a boat, or because we like to rent boats on the weekend, or because we are even vaguely seduced by the concept of a boat, but in case one day, someday, he might own a boat and then he wants to be prepared. That’s like getting a really nice key chain (now) for that gorgeous house in the South of France I will some day own (maybe, possibly, if I win the lottery, wishing on a star, someday).
One of his classmates owns an Italian restaurant. “I have 30 people working for me. 30. Italians, not Romanians pretending to be Italians.” He told Hrabi. “It’s all about ingredients, even a bad cook can seem like a good one if the ingredients are good. With me, the fish is so fresh the hook is still in the mouth!” Apparently said with index finger hooking dramatically into the corner of his mouth for effect.I don’t often want to eat Italian food, chiefly because it does rely on good ingredients. But there is no stopping Hrabi once he is on a mission. And his mission on Saturday was to take me out for Italian.
We drove out 35 minutes to Piazza Italiana in Hermsdorf.
The place looks like a castle and is the home of the owner (impressed? He has another similar sized house right behind the restaurant, takings must be good.). The parking lot is full of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes. There is an outdoor playground for children and plenty of outdoor tables.
Inside, it’s like a ‘Visit Italy’ promotion exploded. Giant Campari bottles, red checkered tablecloths, every corner is crammed with something, even the ceiling has pictures of racing Porsches. It’s cluttered, it’s kitschy, it’s oodles of fun.
Frutti di mare, vitello tonnato, fried calamari, Parma ham with grilled baby artichokes to start.
Then the most gorgeous pasta dish I have eaten for a while. Home made tagliatelle, with thin slices of baby artichoke, garlic, parsley and Lardo di Colonnata. I was eating it, marvelling at that ‘other’ taste that I couldn’t put my finger on and then I saw a piece of lard, as big as my pinky nail, put it in my mouth and pondered it. It somehow seemed sweet and savoury all at once, sticky, yielding – oh just delicious. It made that dish.
At that point I was done. Pino would have none of it, we had to try some beef fillet, a little piece. That little piece turned out to be 350g cooked with a coin of rosemary butter on top, a wedge of lemon and more than a dozen white asparagus spears on the side. He opened up a bottle of 2007 Le Pupille – Saffredi. (Although I also did a wine diploma at Leiths, I’m still pretty clueless and my pronouncments on wine tend to be “I like it, I don’t like it” but this wine – I loved.)
When we finally left the restaurant, I couldn’t breath. That night, I couldn’t sleep. I had food induced nightmares and at 4 am, I gave up the battle and went into the living room and sipped mint tea until everyone else got up.
Oranienburger Chaussee 2
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