My best friend collected me at Rome Leonardo Da Vinci airport and we aimed the car towards the Adriatic coast where young Gus lived for 28 years. We decided to stop somewhere in the middle of the trip for a meal.
On the Autostrada A24...we choose Tivoli as the exit and through Tripadvisor we discovered the #1 rated restaurant in the area. We drove there with expectations, but little we knew we were to have a true culinary experience.
As an emigrant away from my land for over 20 years, going back to a restaurant in Italy is always a special experience. Italy is beyond any doubt the place in the world where food and eating are at the foundations of its culture.
We entered a small but cozy room where we were welcomed by a young waiter that opened our door while greeting us with a big smile and a "Buongiorno Signori". He was wearing an impeccable black suit, and gentle eyes.
We sat. My friend is a chef, so I didn't even open my menu and asked him to choose for me. While my friend was reading the menu, we met the maitre di sala, an impeccably elegant middle aged man that welcomed us warmly.
I could observe how my friend and the maitre spoke the same food language I am not an expert in. I certainly saw how the maitre spoke about the ingredients with true love for their taste and their origin. He was able to explain the tastes, the flavours, the land and the soul of the people that worked at developing them. Even I, a layman, understood everything. I could see his love for his mission in life that other people called his job.
I will not say much about the courses and their sophisticated presentation, I will focus on the outcome . My friend went for the a la carte menu and all I can say is, we had a rollercoaster of sensations.
My eyes were filled with memories of my childhood when i dipped the freshly baked gnocco fritto in the most delicious olive oil I have ever tasted. My friend warned me, be careful, gnocco fritto creates addiction, he was right.
As a cuisine lover, but with only the understanding of a guest, not a host, I was amazed at the modern technology that allowed us to drink only one chalice of the most delicious wine (my friend was driving) without having to pay for the full bottle. In fact the maitre utilised a tool that pushed an inert gas through a needle in the bottle that in turn released the chalice and guaranteed that the next guest would be able to taste the same wonderful wine as if the bottle had not been opened (see picture attached).
Being near Rome we had to have the "carciofi alla romana" (roman style artichokes) and they did not disappoint same as the wonderful cured meats and cheeses board.
In between courses, we were surprised with little presents. Mini portions of beautiful kitchen experiments, none of them disappointed.
The carbonara was a true carbonara, no frills, all taste and tradition.
But the most beautiful thing of my experience was in the relationship that both the maitre and the waiter developed with us. They knew we were loving our experience and I could see they were satisfied with their day work.
I am used to some good food nowadays here in Dublin, but often the experience is hindered by lack of personal connection with staff. The guys at La Briciola, reminded me that food and tastes are nothing without the feeling of being welcome, just like when as a young boy I ate at my mothers' table.
Thank you to the people of La Briciola through whom beats the heart of Italian cuisine. Guys, you made me proud to be Italian.
When the bill came only to €85 in total, i could not believe my eyes as I was expecting a 3 digit bill starting with 2 at least.
I will be back, even if i have to fly over just for the meal.
P.S. I am so ashamed I don't remember the names of the maitre and the waiter, I am closing on 50 and my memory is getting weak. Thank you boys!More