I didn’t take a picture of the exterior, Trattoria da Alfredo e Ada [Via dei Banchi Nuovi, 14, 00186 Roma, Italy] was nondescript in a quiet alleyway. I can’t really remember anything special about the décor inside.
There were so many things that aggravated us about this place, at first. It is really small and tables are shared. After a long day of sightseeing we really weren’t in the mood for rubbing elbows. We were first on line as the place opened so we picked an awkward corner seat hoping that no one would come sit next to us. There was no physical menu, you have to listen to the waitress recite it. There was also only one waitress so we had to listen to her repeat it to every table. The menu is quite limited and there is only one dessert option.
So why was this my favorite meal, out of all of the delicious meals I had in Rome? It was the whole memorable experience. The place got packed within a matter of minutes. At our table fit for four a mother-daughter duo joined my companion and I. Our crankiness dissipated as we realized we really are indeed social creatures, and these new people were pretty remarkable. We shared wine, travel tips, loud laughs, and a whole lot in common. They had just been in Venice, where we were going next, and ripped out papers from guidebooks and handed us unused transportation tickets. They actually inspired us to take an impromptu trip to Florence the very next day. The daughter had a mini-Polaroid camera and we all took pictures, I keep it in my wallet till this day. I am so thankful that we were forced to sit next to them. I will never forget their wonderful company.
So back to the food, because we were at dinner, right? Honestly, I was so out of it mentally that paying attention to the menu was a no-go. I just asked the waitress, what’s your favorite thing? She instantly replied the zucchini lasagna. I’ve never eaten lasagna before, but I thought, what the heck. What was displayed in front of me was a magical square of ecstasy.
Each layer was distinct in its rich savory goodness. The zucchini was just an afterthought, but it made me feel a bit healthier. I’m sad to say that I am ruined for future lasagna, but I regret nothing.
When it came to dessert the waitress said we have biscuits. I am more of a decadent dessertist, but at this point I was so into the atmosphere we went for it. And then, the biscuit man walked it. He had a long grey beard, a jolly face, and was dressed almost like a wizard. He saw me grinning and touched my shoulder as he passed by. My heart went up in the air. Soon the trio of biscuits were on our table, begging to be dipped in wine.
They softened and soaked up the deep flavor of the amazing house wine (order it by the carafe) in a spectacular transformation. At the end of the night our friends picked up the bill to our surprise. The daughter said she always wished someone did that for her when she was young, broke, and traveling. We’ll pay it forward. I didn’t even realize until we had parted ways walking out into the rainy night, we never even exchanged names.