We're doing things a little differently today as I am having a guest writer today, my husband! He wanted to share his experience at La Pergola so without further due, here is Mr. Liu!
Perched atop a hill roughly a mile north of Vatican City and nestled on the rooftop of the Rome Cavalieri hotel, featuring a breathtaking panoramic view of the city is La Pergola. The restaurant is helmed by renowned chef Heinz Beck and is the only establishment in Rome graced with three-Michelin-stars. It is with the utmost pleasure that I share our experience here with you all.
Christine and I arrived promptly at 7:30 PM. We were seated quickly and presented with their water menu boasting over fifty different options from €9 - €340. We chose to have Panna over other more luxurious options. For wine, we went with a 2013 G.B. Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero from Piedmont, which was superb and turned out to be a fantastic pairing with our dinner.
The 10-course was the surefire choice. The two of us, giddy with the thrill of anticipation, until finally, away we went.
The evening began with an assortment of mini sausages with crackers, pickled radish, ricotta, and salmon with lemon infused crema. Just a precursor which offered a glimpse of Chef Beck's style, simple yet elegant, precise, uncompromising, and vibrant.
First Course - Duck foie gras with apple and chestnut
In came the first course: a Heinz Beck signature of pulverized foie gras, chestnut crema and apple puree. The savory dust of foie gras immediately coats your mouth on contact. A sip of wine further enriched the profile.
Second Course - Red shrimp with spaghetti squash and radicchio
The shrimp combined with the crunchy pickled radicchio worked well to refresh the taste buds following the strong flavors of the first course. (I apologize for the quality of the picture; Christine was a little loose with the camera).
Third Course - Composition of mushrooms and pulses
Our server approached with a cart carrying two plates of mushrooms, a small glass bottle holding what he explained to be a pine infusion, and a fossilized mushroom. Christine and I gazed in awe as he doused the fungi with pine infusion and gently shook the ancient mushroom, dusting our plates with its essence.
A crescendo in the evening is felt as we bit into our food. The mushrooms had utterly blown us away. The portabello, amazingly tender and bursting with umami as the surface tension succumbs to the bite. We realized at that moment that we were in for an extraordinary night.
Fourth Course - Rabbit tortellini with carrot and chamomile scent
The show goes on in stride as the fourth course is served. Petite and fluffy pillows of tortellini resting in a shallow pond of traditional light broth. This dish was definitely one of the favorites of the night.
Fifth Course - Red mullet with grilled cauliflower
The fish was delectable, the meat was tender yet firm, topped with a thin crispy skin.
Sixth Course - Lobster with Savoy cabbage and juniper
Once again, our server approached with the cart carrying two plates of lobster and two small glass bottles, one containing a juniper infusion, the other, a lobster sauce. He adds the juniper infusion to the bottle of lobster sauce. "Just a little shake," he said in his perfect Italian accent. He poured the mixture over the plates of lobster and steam began to rise from the dish.
I took my first bite and the lobster melted away with little to no resistance. This was easily the best lobster that I have ever tasted. The sauce was fragrant and worked to slightly soften the crunch on the cabbage. This was my favorite dish of the night.
Seventh Course - Venison with black cabbage
The venison was lean and dense, cooked to a perfect medium rare with the ends dipped in a mix of sesame, pine nuts, and sunflower seeds. Various forms of kale and a piece of sunflower brittle huddled beside the meat. Christine and I had agreed that the sunflower seeds and the stickiness of the brittle were key elements that tied everything together.
Eighth Course - A fine selection of cheese from the trolley
From left to right we have goat cheese, brie, pecorino, 24, and 48-month aged parmesan, fittingly paired with blackberry jam and wildflower honey. A bit more wine makes everything just fine.
Ninth Course - Variation of coconut, banana, and lime
The first dessert of the evening is a light and refreshing cream topped with lime zest and coconut flakes. It was absolutely delicious, not too sweet, uplifting the weight of the feast which came before it.
Tenth Course - Ricotta cream with marzipan, soft pistachio, and sorbet of candied oranges
The final course: a delightful orange sorbet and ricotta cream topped with a thin disc of chocolate.
A mystery box containing 24 pieces of chocolate came as a surprise!
Our experience at La Pergola was unforgettable. From start to finish the dinner took just over four hours. The food was divine, the wine was exquisite and the service, luxurious. La Pergola did not disappoint and lived up to every bit of its reputation as the finest restaurant in Rome.
Up next, Florence in 4 days.