Enoteca Corsi, Rome: Restaurant Review
Strolling down the Via del Gesù, in Rome’s historic center, our stare wanders, thoughts waxing lyrical about the splendid Renaissance palazzos and glorious church facades. In the Largo Argentina area–steps away from major sites like the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia and Campo de’Fiori–wisdom and appetite will inevitably direct epicurean travelers to harbor in front of the Enoteca Corsi’s double entrance. A place suspended in the stillness of time. [pullquote]… steps away from major sites like the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza Venezia and Campo de’ Fiori[/pullquote]
At the Enoteca Corsi, Rome, the paned glass doorway leads into the osteria’s dining room. Deco tiles, wooden chairs, sturdy tables, a vintage scale, aged copper pots and the overhead chandelier made with an old horse-drawn cart wheel, all conspire to suggest a home-style atmosphere, welcoming patrons in, effortlessly.
The management of the osteria is family run, and newcomers and regulars alike are greeted with a smile. The many passers-by happening there by chance wander in to savor the simple and hearty cuisine, drawn by the simple decor and the intoxicatingly inviting aroma wafting from the kitchen. The aficionados return for the unfailing plusses of the osteria: a relaxing ambiance, reliable and delectable portions.
Every day the menu changes, offering a choice between three pasta courses; five or six meat, poultry or fish entrees; few side dishes, and several desserts. All the fares served at the Enoteca Corsi belong to the authentic Roman culinary tradition, and so menu entries may include Amatriciana, Gricia, Carbonara, Pasta e Fagioli or Zuppa di Lenticchie; or the Enoteca’s signature rice timballo with sausage and eggplant; and then stewed oxtail, codfish cooked in various ways according to season, saltimbocca, scaloppine and the house specialty: tripe. [pullquote]Customers are ushered in by the hum of the huge red 1950s refrigerator’s original engine… [/pullquote]
The Enoteca Corsi opens at noon and closes peremptorily at 3:30 p.m., serving meals only for lunch.
But come five in the afternoon, the large neighboring wood entrance next door creaks open. As the osteria’s kitchen closes, the actual Enoteca (which is Italian for wine vendor) opens shop. The historic marble countertop of the wine retail comes to life, facing the endlessly stashed shelves laden with wine bottles up to the ceiling. Customers are ushered in by the hum of the huge red 1950s refrigerator’s original engine; an old chart listing prohibited card games in a public space hangs from a nail; old fading newspaper clippings in every language framed on the walls, and a charming aura of bygone days. The two rooms are connected, restaurant and wine sales shop. And their functions intertwine.
In the afternoon, locals in ones and twos slowly drift in. They sit at the empty tables cleared of all lunch fares, chatting and ceremoniously addressing the staff like old friends. The elderly gentlemen take off their hats and order their alla spina, ‘on tap’ glasses of wine. They shuffle the cards and begin playing hands of briscola, tresette or scopone scientifico (all card games banned from the yellowed chart hanging on the wall, by the way). The image is one frozen in time, something out of a sepia turn-of-the-century photograph.
Enoteca Corsi, Rome
Via del Gesù, n.87-88
Telephone +39 06 6790821
Closed on Sundays, and during the month of August
photo by Scott Partee