Located in the ornate Boscolo Palace Roma – a luxury hotel situated in Via Veneto, Rome’s most elegant and fashionable street and the centerpiece of the Dolce Vita – is Restaurant & Lounge Cadorin. This space offers great local dishes accompanied by the best jazz music in a unique location. Adorned with frescoes by Cadorin with images of the upper classes of Rome in the 1930s, this is an oasis of peace perfect for absorbing the culture of this beautiful hotel and the truly spectacular food of Boscolo’s resident Executive Chef Max Mariola.
After a busy day of sightseeing in the hub of the Catholic faith, Vatican City, Rachel and I were exhausted mentally and physically. Rome is an extremely large city, and with so much to see and do taking it all in can be overwhelming to say the least. Upon returning to our sanctuary for the night, Boscolo Palace Roma, we were indeed grateful for the opportunity to experience Roman food at its finest under the culinary management of one of Italy’s TV celebrities Max Mariola. Born in Rome but raised in Neptune, a seaside resort near Rome, Max took his passion for cooking from his mother since childhood and learned to use the products of nature, especially the sea. Max learned to merge techniques and inspirations of everyday life, managing to reinterpret traditional and regional dishes. Classic, simple and affordable food that could be recreated at home is his passion and, taking our seat in Restaurant Cadorin, Rachel and I were very excited to experience such food in the heart of this food lovers city, Rome.
Our lovely waitresses for the evening were Mirima, who was training to be a sommelier, and Anna, both attentive and helpful as to making selections, not that we had to… for we were in for a REAL treat! Starting with a glass of Berlucchi franciacorta, a sparkling wine from Lombardy with DOCG status, produced from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta, we took in our surroundings. With high ceilings and glass chandleries, shiny wood flooring and art deco wall fittings and lamps this room was something straight out of an F. Scott Fitzgerald book. The walls however had their own story, adorned with frescos by Guido Cadorin, a somewhat forgotten artist from Venice, these scenes that had been frozen in time were once covered up at the request of none other than Mussolini. The frescos are scenes using members of the city’s high-life as subjects, dressed up on the terrace of a grand villa as if at a ritzy party. The reason Mussolini ordered them covered up was due to a particular subject in the fresco, one Margherita Sarfatti, an art critic and Mussolini’s mistress, who insisted on being included in the frescoes even though she had snubbed Cadorin previously. I am glad they are now restored and on full show to the public as they are beautiful and inspire an idea of what this hotel would have been like in the roaring 20’s.
Now if our surroundings and promise of traditional Roman cuisine was not enough we were in for one more treat, after our first course of lobster with orange; citrusy and creamy with the plump juicy lobster adding a fresh salty taste to the dish, we were to be surprised to find out that our food was being cooked by Max Mariola himself. He personally delivered our next course of pizza fritta and welcomed us to Rome and his restaurant. Tucking in to the light soft, savory doughnuts, Rachel and I were ecstatic to have such a renowned Italian chef cooking for us. The pizza fritta were accompanied by a delicious spicy tomato sauce, fresh, seasoned and extremely morish.
The talented Mirima chose our wine accompaniment with dexterity and a genuine love of wine – you could see that she was going to make one hell of a sommelier. She chose a bottle of Elisabetta Geppetti Morellino di Scansano 2011, Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese. The estate is owned by Elisabetta Geppetti and the wines are made under the control of flying-consultant Christian le Sommer (Châteaux Lafite and Latour) There is lovely fruit on the nose, full of dark cherries, blackberries, plums and red fruits. Medium bodied on the palate, and nicely textured although not luscious. Behind this approachable exterior there is a firm extract, and typical acidity; fruity with a layer of oak, and a savoury twist on the finish.
Up next was the ricotta cream, poached egg and Jerusalem artichoke. The crispy artichoke complimented the soft poached egg, the sauce was slightly salty from the cheese but still light so as not to over power the delicate egg. This was followed by razza (skate) with cream of broccoli and pecorino cheese, the overriding taste in this dish was the fresh broccoli, the skate was meaty and flaked perfectly on the fork, the cheese gave a seasoning to the dish that balanced the fresh flavours of the ingredients. Four courses down, it was time for the meat courses, and with the ethos of Roman food being about the simple ingredients we were not disappointed by the offerings. First up was the fillet of beef with orange cream of butter, the meat was somewhat dry but the moist butter sauce added moisture to the dish that created a unique taste in the mouth with the intense orange. The piglet with pumpkin cream and rosemary jus was to follow, succulent and sweet with crispy skin this dish was well seasoned and intense with the herby jus and creamy pumpkin, simple yet elegant in tastes each ingredient shone.
Rather full and terribly impressed with the dishes, we were still excited to taste the one last course, dessert. Now Max had shown us in the last six courses his ability to do classic Roman food at its best but it was in dessert that his culinary skills really maxed out: the classic Italian dessert of tiramisu. Homemade that day and served in a large coffee cup, it was heavenly, a mix of gloopy, bitter, creamy, boozy, intense coffee, buttery biscuit, soft peaks of mascarpone and cream. Rachel and I sat there in silence savoring every last mouthful. After dinner, Max came out of the kitchen and sat with Rachel and I over bottle of red to chat about his childhood and love of Roman food. Max is a very cheerful and very charming. This talented chef, who has resurrected the importance of fresh produce and seasonality, was a delight to talk to and made for a very memorable end to not only our meal but our last night in Rome and Italy. Not even seeing the Pope himself the next day topped this wonderful meal and meeting such an inspirational but down to earth Roman, championing the classic culinary roots of his heritage.
Restaurant & Lounge Cadorin
Boscolo Palace Roma