Rome, October 15, 2016—
ANOTHER RETURN to a place we've liked before, a modern version of a Roman trattoria, with a fairly short menu of mostly characteristic Roman specialties, many of them tweaked a bit to bring them toward the kinds of tastes informed by cuisine magazines.
Thus my first course: Battuto di Scottona Marchigiana, Pinolo Parmigiana e Lampone Ghiacciato. This is my old friend steak tartare: Scottona is a breed of beef cattle raised in the Marche. The meat was coarsely knife-chopped; it tastes different from the Piedmontese beef — not so sweet, for one thing — and has a less silky texture (but is still far from rough between the teeth).
It came with a garland of arugula and a trace of mustard sauce, and the cylinder of beef rested on a bed of what seemed like heavily toasted chopped nuts with perhaps a slight bit of coarsest ground coffee mixed in. Most surprising, though, was the spread of what I took to be frozen watermelon granita on top of the dish. Lampone, the menu said, raspberries; but it tasted like watermelon to me.
Next, spaghetti cace e pepe, a Roman classic, the pasta flavored only with butter, grafted pecorino (or Romano), and black pepper. The latter was too finely ground and too sparsely used, to my taste, but the whole was a fine version, and I'd order it again.
Dessert: I skipped through the list, which included something involving veal brains of all things, and lit on the semifreddo, a very hard-frozen custard robed in dark chocolate and garnished with whipped cream, smooth ricotta, and a sprinkling of ground pistachio. Interesting, professional, rewarding.
Pecorino (the white wine, not the cheese) in carafe
L'Osteria di Monteverde, via Pietro Cartoni, 163/165, Rome; 06.53273887