We’re in early 2000 now.
A tall, thin man with a very interesting face came in for lunch one day.
De nitely American. He sat down at a small table in the mid-
dle of the room and ordered some typical Roman fare.
I couldn’t take my eyes off him because he reminded me of someone. He ate heartily and nished every dish. I couldn’t get his face out of my head, even his mannerisms seemed familiar.
It came to me when I served his dessert.
He must’ve moved or looked in a certain way, but a scene from
the lm Amadeus by Milos Forman suddenly ashed into my head, the one where Salieri, Mozart’s antagonist, thanks the Lord for having suggested (he thinks) a piece of music to play to the Court.
Salieri, a hugely talented, Oscar-winning actor, was right there in front of me and had just eaten, and enjoyed, our Roman cooking.
My English is awful but with a little French and a few hand gestures, I manage to make myself understood.
“Mister, ma vous siet, Abraham Murray, Salieri of the Ama- deus lm!?” I asked.
He speaks Italian quite well and, taking pity on me, smiled and said, yes, it was him.
I shook his hand, attered and complimented him then very boldly dared to ask him how he’d ended up in our restaurant like an ordinary tourist. I was so proud when I heard his reply:
“You’re very well-known in America and I couldn’t wait tonally come and eat at Armando al Pantheon myself ” he replied. en he surprised me with a confession.
“I’m here in Rome to shoot a lm with So a Loren. I’m so nervous I needed to get away on my own for a nice meal and to chill out. You guys are great!”
I could’ve hugged him but I stopped myself. He gave me an autograph (no photos, our phones didn’t have cameras in those days) and I wished him good luck for everything. He left a generous tip and promised to come back and visit if he was ever back in Rome. And he kept his word! He’s been back at least four or ve times since then, mostly in the company of friends, not alone like the rst time.
Abraham the great, a friend and a bit of Hollywood gold here at Armando al Pantheon!
is one’s for him.
Straccetti of beef (beef strips)
Ingredients (serves 6)
800 g thinly sliced beef, cut into strips 500 g rocket
1 garlic clove and a small chili pepper Extra-virgin olive, as required
1⁄2 glass white wine
balsamic vinegar and salt to season
Well, the rst stop in this recipe is at our friendly butchers to ask for some beef and if they can kindly cut it into strips. From 185 the greengrocer we’ll get some rocket, garlic and chilli pepper. From the wine shop, some Frascati white wine and the balsa- mic vinegar.
Back home, gently fry the garlic and a piece of chilli pepper in some oil in a frying pan. Toss in the beef strips, a pinch of rocket and the wine before the garlic and chilli pepper burn and you make anyone else in the kitchen either angry or cough. Cover the pan and cook over a moderate ame for around ten minutes.
Place the meat on serving platters, place the fresh rocket on top, season with salt, extra-virgin olive oil and generous spla- shes of balsamic vinegar.
Serve warm and… enjoy!
It’s time, now, a story dedicated to the world of food critics.
Some might laugh, some might recognize themselves in it but whatever happens, these are de nitely the “tastiest” ones.