Rome | Il Sanlorenzo

I’m not a fish lover. Never have been. I’d rather indulge in a plate of carbs than go out for sashimi, sea urchins or any other exotic seafoods. But Il Sanlorenzo is different. After a hard day’s work last week, on one of my usual tours de force zig-zagging up and down the boot (breakfast in Bologna, lunch in Milan…), I arrived in Rome for my evening appointment looking like something the cat dragged in and feeling worse. But when my client suggested we went out for a quick bite, things started looking up. Il Sanlorenzo is in an unassuming narrow street just off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, in the heart of the city. It’s smallish and low-key elegant (Brazilian architect Andrea Moraesdesigned the interiors), but still you can choose to have an aperitif or a quick bite at the counter area with a clear view through to the kitchen, a more leisurely meal in one of the main rooms, or more privacy downstairs among the foundations of an ancient Roman theatre.

The seafood is on display at the entrance, sourced from the fishermen of Ponza or the markets at Anzio and Civitavecchia. In other words all locally caught, selected by Neapolitan chef-patron Enrico Pierri, and so fresh some of it is still alive and kicking in the crates packed with ice. You choose your dinner here. Then you sit down for a historic meal. At first I was sceptical about some of the combinations, like that of a sweet croissant, the kind you’d have for breakfast here in Europe, together with anchovies cured with olive oil and lemon rind, or shrimps paired with mozzarella, or swordfish with porcini mushrooms. But no doubts left by the time we got to desserts, all superb by the looks of them but I couldn’t resist a classic revisited: pane e nutella – bread-flavoured icecream with a gianduia sauce. Great service – all the staff are introduced in the menu, and I loved that, from the dish washer to the maître d’. And perfect lighting. Can’t wait to go back, especially if Gabbi comes back with me.