After getting settled at Roma Boutique Hotel, and after getting my luggage opened, I was famished for some late lunch. Since I was a bit disheveled from the happenings of my first day in Rome, I asked for a restaurant recommendation from Umberto, the Front Desk signor. He ushered me towards Via Crispi for a ristorante that specialized in seafood. I was ready for something a little light since I was preparing for a foodfest marathon when Roomie arrived.

Via Crispi is a street that leads to the Trevi Fountain as well as the Spanish Steps. It’s a bit of a downhill walk to Via del Tritone. Lots of shops to look at

Since I was all alone, creative attempts at self-portraitureRistorante Crispi 19

I was warned that the restaurant would be nondescript and would need to look closely for the number 19. I actually passed by it on my first try. This spot has been serving locals since 1873Usually recommendations are in English, which means most tourist or travel critics recommend it. But when most of the endorsements are in Italian and from Italian publishers, then it means this joint is a local’s choice. It also helps that Fabio Mancuso, the head chef, is on the Italian Chef National Team, so his specialty of seafood is to my advantage.

Upon crossing the threshold, a small hallway with few booth seating areas were available. Ambiance wise, it was a bit stuffy for me. It was classic, but not excessive.

There was a room to the right which had natural lighting, and a smattering of tables for an intimate setting.

I decided to sit by the window so I could still feel like I’m dining al fresco, and beside me are live seafood waiting for their fate.

It was actually quite a spectacle, with passersby young and old taking a moment to enjoy the little aquarium of sea creatures from the street.

Maurizio, the friendly server, focused his attention on moi. I had a feeling that my hotel said a couple of kind words when they made my reservation, because he never left me wanting for anything.

He placed a bottle of olive oil and a heart shaped platter on my table and explained that it is local olio di oliva. Every restaurant in Italy serves amazing olive oil, and Olivello was no exception.

Maurizio was so detailed to explain the kind of bread that was on my basket. This one with olives definitely highlighted the freshness of the olive oil when dipping. I wanted to smuggle that green bottle into my purse after tasting it.

Since I was planning on indulging in some seafood, I picked a fragrant white vino to complement my meal. I ordered a glass, but Maurizio decided to top off the entire bottle for me.Even before my order arrived, my table was already filled up with components. There are hardly any restaurants that give you water on the house, so you have to order. Make sure you say agua naturalle unless you prefer a little gas (frizzante) in them.Special Homemade Pasta “Teneroni” flavored with Saffron, stuffed with Lobster, Eggplant and a Mousse of CodfishWow. What a beautiful dish. A duo of teneronis, this one made with black squid ink and stuffed with lobster and saffron essence.The normal teneroni was more delicate but had intense flavors of saffron. The delicate sauce was made from lobster jus which was intoxicating to the last drop. When combined with the codfish mousse, each bite was like a platter of seafood condensed into a forkful.

I felt a tad bit guilty enjoying my pasta while the lovely lobster was attempting to escape its fate… Don’t worry, you are safe from me.Though the Primi Piatti (first plate) was a beautiful dish, I won’t lie that it hardly made a dent on my appetite. I needed a secondi.Tuna Duet of fillet stuffed with Foie Gras in a crust of Pistachio and a cream of Balsamic Vinegar; and Tuna Steak in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with a Citrus and Gianchetti OmeletteOh dear. When I read ‘tuna stuffed with foie gras’, I knew I had to try it. Tuna, a very lean fish, becomes decadent with the insertion of rich foie gras. It was cooked rare and tasted as fresh as Japanese sashimi, save for the wonderful nuttiness lent by the pistachio crust. The reduced balsamic vinegar syrup  gave an earthy sweetness that complemented the foie gras.The Tuna Steak, on the other hand, was very light and refreshing. Lightly cooked in extra virgin olive oil and served with some sauteed vegetables, it was brought full circle with the lemon gianchetti omelette. I love duos. Chef Fabio Mancuso’s playful execution of the seafood dishes was something that perked me up after a long flight to Europe.

After my double coursed meal, I said ‘basta’ to dessert, but Maurizio could not resist and poured me a little bit of limoncello to help my digestion going as well as to cleanse the palate. I am normally not a fan of Limoncello, but Crispi 19′s was very fragrant and not heavy on the alcohol at all. The aftertaste was like a lemon tart. mmm.All the way to my departure, Maurizio was the perfect host and even ushered me to the exit. He also gave me directions on how to get to Fontana di Trevi, and to my next stop, Il Gelato di San Crispino.

“Bread, pasta, sauces, decorations and desserts are all homemade by our chef Fabio Mancuso with fresh products combining ancient recipes, traditional ingredients and imaginative innovations.”

Ristorante Crispi 19

Via Francesco Crispi 19

Rome 00187, Italy

+39 06 6785904

ristorantecrispi19.com