La Pergola, Rome, 11-3/2012
I have read someone’s rave review on La Pergola. After my hard-to-forget wonderful meal at Vendome, I wonder which one is really better between Vendome and La Pergola.
La Pergola’s rooftop location in Monte Mario offers the best spectacular panoramic view of the city, and as you’re seated in your plush chair enjoying the night view of St. Peter’s dome, you know you’re in for a fine dining experience. First, your waiter will present you with menus: food, wine and water. Then, you must choose between the German wonder-chef Heinz Beck’s alta cucina specialties. The desert course is extravagant; including tiny petit fours and treats. The wine list is as thrilling as one might expect with the financial backing of the Waldorf-Astoria and their investment in one of the top wine cellar in Italy.
In summer, there is alfresco dining on an adjacent terrace. The setting is elegant, trompe l’oeil ceilings, wood paneling, beautifully set tables, and sliding glass walls. It also has one large tapestry on the wall by the entrance door.
3 slices of Filet Mignon marinated in Cappuccino sauce with arugula and baby greens served on a rectangular glass plate placed on top of a glass tray filled with white pebbles. Cappuccino flavor was not overwhelming. If you have delicate taste bud, you can taste it.
Duck Foie Gras was coated with chopped and slightly roasted almond and finely chopped apple. The tiny bite size of jello was made with Amaretto which makes a hint of sweetness to balance the salty taste of Foil Gras. Amaretto jelly made this dish more balanced and tasty.
It was soup with seaweeds and seafood. It included ingredients that I have never seen before, such as sea asparagus and some clams. The creative chef also made some flaky prawn which virtually disappeared when hot prawn broth was poured into the bowl. Upon discussing with the manager, I was informed this dish was more of conceptual dish.
4th course – "Fagotelli 'La Pergola'."
It is a pasta dish. It is also one of their signature dishes. I am not a pasta fan. However, I have had opportunities to enjoy outstanding house-made pasta dishes in NYC and the one served in Vendome. But, I must admit this was definitely the best pasta dish that I have ever had in my life. It was ravioli filled with cheese mousse topped with prosciutto ham and finely chopped herbs. I assumed it required extra steps to wrapped cheese mousse in ravioli. The reward was when you bit on each piece; cheese mousse melt in your mouth . . . At the end of dinner, the manager asked my opinion on the meal. I told him my favorite dish was this “Fagotelli” without of doubt. He told me that he tasted them every single day during the ten years of working there. He never got tired of the taste. Neither would I get tired of the taste.
Spliced prawn were battered in light tempura and fried. It was served with pink colored sauce made of pureed squids. The fried prawn sat on top of the pink sauce and top with shredded fennel and a piece of green vegetable. It is a refreshing dish.
It was a thick piece of cod and not overcooked. I hate overcooked fish. The curry crust probably required ultra high temperature to prevent fish from being overcooked. The celery root and sauce placed at the bottom of fish gives it an overall well balanced taste.
I ordered the venison rare-medium. I have noticed that the quality of venison in Europe was different from US’s. It has milder gamy taste and more tender. Chestnut puree was very smooth and tasty. Venison coated in Persimmon Jam sauce offered a very unique sensation on the taste bud. During this trip I have had venison in three Michelin 3-star restaurants – Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester, Vendome and La Pergola. Both Vendome’s and La Pergola’s were excellent. This is my 2nd favorite dish at La Pergola.
8th course – "Cheese."
They were all from Italy. I had two medium ripe goat cheeses, a 36 month parmesan, gorgonzola dolce from Alto Adige, a pecorino from Siena and one semi-ripen soft cheese served with a black current jam and persimmon jam. I had twinge of fullness after finishing half of the cheese plate. I requested to take home the unfinished half cheese platter so that I could save some room for the multi-courses of deserts.
2nd round: chocolate soufflé, white coffee cream and a cappuccino in a cup with white coffee foam.
3rd round: two cappuccino macaroons, two lollypops of fruit jelly candies and two scoops of ice creams, one coated with white chocolate.
When I finally finished with the last round of Grand Desert it was about 11pm, I was too content to leave. La Pergola’s Fagotelli definitely was the best pasta dish that I have ever had and the spectacularly commanding view was difficult to find anywhere else.