It’s not often that we make a restaurant reservation 4 months in advance. And it’s even less often that they come back and advise that, even with that much advance notice, they cannot confirm a table on the terrace – we may have to sit inside.
But this is no ordinary restaurant.
La Pergola is a 3 Michelin Star restaurant situated on the 9th floor of Hotel Cavalieri in Rome. Sitting on the restaurant terrace (as we did) Rome lies spread out below you – from St Peters on the right to the Spanish Steps front and centre – a sea of flickering lights.
But the view isn’t the main reason to visit La Pergola – it’s all about the food. Chef Heinz Beck has held 3 Michelin stars since 2005.
From the moment you arrive you can understand why – nothing is left to chance – from the exquisite quality of the food to the superb standard of service, right down to the selection of 48 different mineral waters or wine cellar of around 60,000 bottles.
There was even a small side table provided just for Jean’s handbag.
The menu has a choice of a nine course tasting menu or the standard al la carte. We chose the latter and made choices for 3 courses. Jean chose the Tuna, Fagottell and John Dory. I went for the Amberjack, Fagottelli and Lamb.
The Fagottelli is La Pergola’s signature dish and is pasta parcels with the warm sauce actually inside the parcels. This means that biting into the first parcel fills your mouth with creamy pasta sauce – all cheese and herbs – delicious.
As some may know we are not great “meal sharers”. But we did try each others main courses. Jean’s tasted of the sea – quite literally – all ozone and salt and fresh sea air. Mine tasted of the land, earthy, herb filled and complex.
But the meal was far more than simply what we ordered – there was the glass of Prosecco when we arrived, the small chef’s taste at the start of the meal, the freshly baked bread accompanied by olive oil and 3 different types of salt, the two small gelato cones before dessert and the petit fours that accompanied coffee. It seemed as if everything was done to surprise and delight the diner.
The petits fours deserve a special mention. They came in what can only be described as a small chest of drawers – 12 drawers, 3 on each side of a small, shiny square box. Each drawer was an adventure in pastry, chocolate, sponge, whatever.
One thing to specially mention is the service. While it was superb, it is not pretentious. When faced with a 40 page wine list covering all the wine producing areas of the world our wine waiter was eager to provide options based on what we had ordered. And even though we ended up with a rather good dry white from Campania, when my main course of lamb arrived he suggested a glass of a Piedmonte red – because the red would work better with the food.
A special treat was a chat to Heinz Beck after the meal – he came around to see if we liked the meal and being Kiwis we had a chat about the lamb he uses. Apparently it is lamb from the high pastures of northern Italy. The pastures are full of wild herbs which provide some of that earthy flavour I mentioned earlier.
What more can I say? This was an unforgettable meal – an unforgettable experience. Thank you La Pergola.
Note: It didn’t seem appropriate to take photographs during dinner – so most shots below are borrowed from the hotel website. Often the promo shots on a website flatter the venue, but in this case they simply document the way it is.