My final destination, the fish restaurant il Sanlorenzo, was another of my friend Giampaolo’s recommendations. I’d noticed it on a previous trip, all glass doors and stark decor smack dab in the middle of the historic center. Their fish arrives daily from Ponza, an island closer to Naples than Rome but part of Lazio, and Civitavecchia, a coastal town about an hour northwest of Rome. For fresher fish, you’d need to catch it yourself.
I’ve traveled a lot by myself, and I’ve noticed that solo diners often get the short end of the stick. Servers forget about you, and you’re restricted to a selection of wines by the glass unless you’re up for either drinking an entire bottle or paying for an entire bottle without finishing it. In Buenos Aires, a waiter actually whisked away the second chair at my table midway through the meal because another table needed it, leaving me feeling rather unloved and dejected. At il Sanlorenzo, instead, I was treated like a queen by co-owner Enrico Pierri, who runs the place with his wife Elena. The menu offered a tasting option that didn’t quite speak to me, a ton of other dishes that did, a substantial raw bar, and several specials. Indecision! The other problem of dining alone is that you have less to order and no one else’s dishes to taste; your decisions feel weightier. Enrico, who sent out a glass of Paul Goerg Blanc de Blancs with the kitchen’s amuse bouche of fried anchovies and pancetta-cheese fritters, recognized my paralysis and offered to create a tasting menu just for me. And I said, yes, I want to go to there!
I began with a 2007 Luigi Maffini Pietraincatenata, a barrel-aged Fiano from Paestum that showed a lot more complexity than the usual Fianos from Avellino, and a trio of glistening crudi: cod, tuna, and amberjack, seasoned simply with a sprinkling of chives here, a chiffonade of basil there. My second course was a carpaccio of red shrimp, dressed with olive oil and lemon, which tasted like sweet butter of the sea. I made a mental note to get my cholesterol checked back home. My one request for my personalized tasting menu was sea urchin, and next arrived 6 perfect specimens on a bed of ice. Briny, sweet, with a bracing tinge of seaside metallic, they disappeared quickly.