Il Drappo, Rome
January 19, 2009
On January 13, 2009, Linda, Sue and I had lunch at Il Drappo, a Sardinian restaurant just off the via Giulia, west of the Campo dei Fiori. The chef is Valentina Tolu, whose family has owned the restaurant for 28 years. She was delighted by our interest in her cuisine. We wanted a substantial lunch as we would be going to a concert that night of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia and would be skipping dinner. We discussed the menu at some length. We ordered a half bottle of Sardinian Vermentino and a bottle of Sardinian Cannonau. The Vermentino was earthier than the Ligurian version we are used to. Grenache is known as Cannonau in Sardinia, where it may have originated and is still common. We enjoyed the wine.
Antipasto misto della casa
a tomato and celery salad on “paper bread”
Dry cured sheep ham.
Ham of wild boar.
My antipasto was
Insalata di polpo con patate ed agrumi
This was excellent. The potato slices underneath had absorbed a bit of the juices from the orange wedges and the octopus along with the olive oil.
Linda’s pasta was
Spaghetti con Bottariga e pomodori di Pachino
Bottariga is Sardinian for bottarga, or dried roe, which is grated over pasta to give a salty fishiness, somewhat like anchovies, but more elegant. Most bottarga comes from tuna, but Valentina emphasized that this was from mullet which has a sweeter taste. These tomatoes are a Sicilian variety known for their sweetness. Linda thought they overwhelmed the bottarga, but she enjoyed the pasta.
Sue’s primo was
Fregula con le vongole
Fregula are large pasta balls which create an effect like a porridge. The dish seems very different from a spaghetti alle vongole even though the preparation of the sauce with little clams and garlic cooked in olive oil is the same.
My pasta was
Malloreddus alla campidanese con salsiccia
This was good, but there was twice as much pasta as there should have been for the amount of sausage and tomatoes.
Linda and Sue’s secondo was
Su porceddu al mirto
The suckling pig was excellent, not greasy or heavy at all with a nice crispy skin. The myrtle gave a nice aroma to the dish. It is a Mediterranean shrub widely cultivated in Sardinia, both as an ornamental and for its aroma as a flavoring in cooking. It is used in the island to produce an aromatic liqueur called “Mirto“‘ by macerating it in alcohol. It is known as one of the national drinks of Sardinia. There are two varieties of this drink: the “Mirto Rosso” (red) produced by macerating the berries, and the “Mirto Bianco” (white) produced from the leaves.
My main course was
Scaloppine di vitella ai profumi di sardegna
The veal scallop was more like a thin veal chop. It was elegantly flavored with a sauce of sage, thyme and orange. Very good.
We shared the dessert which Sue ordered
This traditional Sardininan deep-fried “raviolo” is filled with sheep’s cheese. It is served with bitter orange and honey. It shows the Arab influence on Sardinia.
Valentina brought us glasses of Sardinian mirto and bonbons.
There had been so much discussion about the myrtle with which the suckling pig had been flavored that Valentina brought some out for Sue to smell the aroma as we were leaving.
The meal was very enjoyable. It was nice to have a thoroughly authentic regional cuisine with some superb examples of the island’s specialties.
We are glad we had a hearty lunch as we headed out into the rainy winter afternoon.