Date
18 October 2017
Tivoli (left) is a historic town in the Lazio region of Italy. An unscheduled visit to a family restaurant in Roviano was well worth it. Photos: HKEJ, Wikimedia/Alex1011
Tivoli (left) is a historic town in the Lazio region of Italy. An unscheduled visit to a family restaurant in Roviano was well worth it. Photos: HKEJ, Wikimedia/Alex1011

A taste of authentic Italian cuisine in an ancient hill town

After joining a food tour in Sicily, my partners and I decided to set off on our own to explore other parts of Italy.

We had two free days to take it easy before returning to Hong Kong, and so we decided to go to Tivoli, a town in the Lazio region which is about 30 kilometers east-northeast of Rome.

We discovered that this ancient town perched on a hill has a hotel that used to be the home of a princess and has a history of 600 years. That’s where we decided to stay.

The hotel’s receptionist recommended a few restaurants where we could try the local cuisine. But frankly speaking, it often takes Asian tourists like us some time to get to appreciate the authentic tastes of European specialty dishes.

While we were heading to one of the recommended restaurants by car, an old settlement nestled in a mountain came into view. We decided to pay it a visit.

The bumpy journey brought us to Roviano, a remote, quiet village that seems to have only a few residents. After lots of asking, we found our way to the only restaurant in town.

It is run by a family. The hostess explained to us that there was no menu of dishes we could choose from, they just cook whatever is available for the day.

Since that’s the case, we let her decide what dishes we’re going to have.

The appetizer was a vegetable platter. Italian fruit and vegetables are so fresh and rich in flavors, and they come with nothing more than a few sprays of olive oil.

Then we had pasta, but of course. She presented five kinds of fresh, homemade pasta. We asked what’s the most interesting, and she picked the thin threads for us.

However, a diner across the table told us to try another one that looked like Japanese udon noodles. And so the hostess decided to make both and let us decide.

My verdict was that both were fantastic, but our fellow diner’s recommendation was the best.

After consuming all the pasta, we were quite full. But the smell of grilled steak emanating from the kitchen was so tempting that we couldn’t resist ourselves from making an order.

I have to say that the hostess was really thoughtful and prepared for us smaller slices of the charcoal-grilled beef.

It was really delicious, although it meant we had to leave the restaurant with our bellies about to burst.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 22.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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DY/AC/CG

a veteran journalist and food critic

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