This was a lunch to die for. We met our friend in the middle of the Isola Tiberia, walked across the Ponte Cestio and into Trastevere where she headed unerringly for her favourite restaurant, the Osteria de Gensola. With its tucked-away location on a quiet square and unassuming entrance - simply "Trattoria" painted over the door and the day's menu chalked on a blackboard, no outside tables the day we were there, you could easily pass this place by, but you'd be missing a real treat.
Housed in a XVth century palazzo, golden walls, lots of mellow wood, red tablecoths, flowers and a central table laden with luscious-looking desserts create a welcoming atmosphere as you enter. Once we were seated at a table in an inner room, the serious business of deciding what to eat began. We left the choice to our friend and the waiter - and the feast that resulted was vindication of the wisdom of that decision.
Booking is essential here at the della Gensola - as we discovered when we returned with MrL and some friends a couple of nights later.
Favorite Dish: Regional cooking with more than a nod towards Sicily is the style here. Our lunch began with a little antipasti - stuffed and fried olives, a flavourful octopus salad and - my favourites - stuffed zucchini flowers.
The tradtional Italian lunch of primi and secondi piatti is usually beyond me, but with so many good things on the menu here, we managed it by sharing dishes - 2 pastas between three of us, and the same with the main courses. Eating Italian style - slowly, slowly - a two hour lunch - helped us to manage a small dessert as well.
Ravioli stuffed with tuna and asparagus was wonderful, as was the linguini with anchovies and pecorino. Grilled squid and a fennel salad were a perfect combination but the standout was stracciato of eggplant and beef. Stracciatto means shredded and that's what this was, the finest strips of meat and the vegetable both cooked to melting tenderness, beautifully seasoned and simply presented.
Strawberries in a citrus sauce finished the meal - and us - off to perfection.
We were guests at this restaurant and didn't even see a menu once we were seated inside so I have no idea of what this cost, but, if I'd been paying, I'd have been happy with the bill, whatver it was.