73. Michelin 3 Stars

What does it take to be the only three-star Michelin restaurant in Rome? In a city where pretty much all food, everywhere, both humble and exalted, is fabulous?

Maria and I headed to the ten-course tasting menu at La Pergola, the restaurant at the top of the Rome Cavalieri Hotel, to find out.Judging from our experience, three-star means a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. It means a wonderful non-alcoholic cocktail and an amuse-bouche that included pigeon, which I’m ashamed to say I could not could not bring myself to try.

The item at the top features pureed pigeon.

It means being presented with four different kinds of salt and a ten-page water menu, still and “with gas,” and being told that we made an excellent choice, as we also were with the three wines she chose. (Maria tells me that it’s typical to actually choose a different wine for each of the ten courses.) It means every course is a visual work of art, including chocolates served in a miniature silver bureau, with a different kind in every drawer. It means the service was both attentive and friendly, aimed at making us comfortable without declaring that they’ll be “taking care of” us, asking if we were “still working on that?” and how everything “tasted for us.”

We chose five cheeses.

The food was exquisite, both creative and delicious, an experience I will never forget and likely, never repeat.

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