I have found the absolute best place in Rome to eat lunch… that is if I don’t find somewhere even better on my next visitby William Skidelsky / September 22, 2010 / Leave a comment
Not long ago, I found myself in Rome for a couple of days. As is the case when I’m on my own in a foreign city, I set about finding the best possible place to eat. I scoured the internet, consulted guidebooks, canvassed friends for tips. Such quests, I’ve found, have a habit of ending in disappointment. Constraints of time and money get in the way; fêted restaurants turn out to be mediocre; and even the discovery of a really good place brings with it the nagging feeling that there may be an even better one just round the corner.
This time, however, there was no such let-down. I found what I truly believe is the best place to have lunch in Rome. In fact I’d go further. The meal I had at Sora Margherita—a one room spit-and-sawdust place in the Jewish quarter—was among the three or four best I have ever had.
The experience was all the more satisfying for initially seeming so unlikely. I can’t quite claim to have stumbled upon Sora Margherita, since I found it in a guidebook (where it had a complimentary, though hardly ecstatic, write-up). Nonetheless, the process that resulted in my eating there was far from smooth. The restaurant is located in a small square—the piazza delle Cinque Scole—in a particularly maze-like portion of the city. There is no window, no sign, nothing to suggest from the outside that an eating establishment exists. The first time I tried to visit, the place was closed. The guidebook had stated, erroneously, that it was open in the evening. When I got to the piazza, not only could I not see a restaurant, I couldn’t see the possibility of one ever having existed. The place must have closed down some time ago, I told myself—the guidebook was a few years old—but, just in case, I asked a couple who were strolling by with a baby. Their faces lit up. “Ah, Sora Margherita,” they said, pointing to a previously overlooked barricaded doorway. It was, they said, an excellent restaurant, but it was only open for lunch.
Returning the next day, I found the doorway open. Inside, a man with a clipboard told me that in order to eat, I first had to put my name down and become a member of the associazione. There was no joining fee. Having submitted to this strange piece of bureaucracy, I…