Feed Your Appetite: Food, Shopping, Culture in Rome

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It’s time for celebration. My favorite place to eat seafood in Rome is now open for lunch. Co-owner Anna Maria Gabrieli met me at Quinzi & Gabrieli (+39 06 79 389, [email protected]) near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona (Via Delle Coppelle 5) and, with a wave of her hand, set the waiters in motion. A tsunami of fresh Mediterranean catches kept arriving, from the freshest oysters to eggplant and shrimp rolls, to slightly grilled langoustine to pasta with morsels of shellfish. This is the perfect place to have a long, fabulous lunch after spending the morning on a Context Tour or just wandering around. Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, and Leonardo Di Caprio come here when working on films in Rome— book for dinner and do some people watching, or have a sumptuous lunch, followed by a nice long nap.

I decided to walk off my lunch by wandering over to the Gattinoni boutique at Via Sistina 44  to see if there was something I could fit into after my enormous meal. I adore Guillermo Mariotto, the creative director, who showed me his 2009 designs the other day. His look is a combination of the classic and mystic, with a twist of naughty. . .  just like the Venezuelan/Venetian himself. The haute couture atelier on Via Toscana 1, near Via Veneto, is where iconic stars like Ingrid Bergman have founder Fernanda Gattinoni display her creative genius; now Guillermo brings in the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow. Satisfied that I could still fit into at least a scarf after my huge repast, I continued on to the rooftop bar at the Sofitel.

A table at La Bella Vista, the seventh floor terrace bar, a glass of perfectly chilled Pietrablanca, and all’s right with the world. The sky was banded with sunset colors, layers of blues, and swallows swooped and dipped above umbrella pines in the park below.  I really love this bar— it’s positioned directly toward the sunset and, during cocktail hour, drinks come with little square bowls of parmesan cubes, roasted almonds, and nibbles of Norcia salami. What could be better?

Then, though it seemed impossible to eat again, I did: dinner at Le 49, masterminded by former Alain Ducasse hand Chef Omar Agostini. The Rome Villa Borghese Sofitel is celebrating its fifth star, surely at least in part because the food is so good. The garbanzo soup and the risotto with pigeon were divine. This young Italian chef has a very bright future and is awaiting a new restaurant space in 2009, when the Sofitel continues restoration of the former Boston Hotel at Via Lombardia 47, near the Via Veneto. For now, though, Le 49 is cozy, with a gentleman’s club atmosphere.

In the food for the soul category, the Sacred Music Concerts take place during the last half of November in the four Papal Basilicas. Programs include works by the masters— Brahms, Haydn, Mozart, Bach— performed by a variety of orchestras in some of Rome’s most evocative settings. Visit www.festivalmusicaeartesacra.net.

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