Much like in Milan, we didn’t have much of a clue as to the local food scene and searched high and low to find recommendations of places that would fit in nicely with our global culinary tour. One place we found that not only had a Michelin star but was recommended in “Where Chefs Eat” (which I highly recommend, by the way) is Imago, which is just above the Spanish Steps in Rome. And as luck would have it, our hotel was just a few paces from the steps as well so it would be a good option in the Roman heat in a suit.
What we didn’t expect, however, were the views. Simply
amazing views out over the entirety of the city and we were kindly placed at a
window that took it all in, including our first sunset in Rome. Magical.
“Where Chefs Eat” says that it would take some incredible cooking to overshadow the views and chef Francesco Apreda has done just that. And not only was the food incredible the service was light and friendly. This is Michelin-starred dining the way we like it – relaxed and comfortable, fun and whimsical, but outstanding and world-class. Imago hit all the notes for us and made for an incredible evening.
Apologies in advance, the lighting was very poor midway through the meal so I’ve had to try to enhance them to be able to get an idea of what we were eating. But to be honest, while the food looked good it tasted just that much better. You have to experience this place for yourself!
Things got started off with a couple little amuse bouche, the first being a deep-fried quail egg with a chilli jam. We were already rolling...
Next was the breaded scallops stuffed with buffalo mozzarella, celery and truffle. I hate to admit it but this was the first time I had shaved truffles. It was everything I hoped and really inspired me to pick up a number of truffle products in the deli the next day to take home.
Aperitif i hand, the Gourmet Female was ready to go! I can't say enough about the location and views. Spectacular.
Next up was baby prawn tartare, oil-flavoured bread and citron. The prawns were incredibly light and soft (and of course, raw) and the citron really added an explosion of flavour. We found ourselves eating this one tiny bite at a time, hoping that it wouldn’t end. Definitely a great way to start.
Well, we hit our favourite dish early at Imago, with the parmesan cheese ravioli in cold tuna broth, double malt and 7 spices. The thought of cold tuna broth concerned me a bit but it was so much better than I could have imagined. The raviolis were light and the broth very smooth. And the best thing was they gave us two tubes of the chef’s special 7 spice blend! Well, they first gave only one to the Gourmet Female but once they learned how much I love to cook they brought a vial out for me as well.
By this time it was clear to us that the chef had spent some quality time in Asia, learning how to pair exotic ingredients with his modern Italian dishes. The next dish paired sparkling wine risotto with pepper and sesame blend, caciotta cheese and balsamic vinegar. We’ve had many different risottos over the years but this one was amazing and not heavy in any way. And it was just the perfect size to keep us going until the next dish.
I know this dish is hard to see but, to be honest, even if it was much clearer it would still be difficult to discern what’s in it. The chef created a dish of capellini pasta with garlic, olive oil and chilli pepper, smoked eel and cocoa. We both made a face when we read “smoked eel and cocoa” but it was gorgeous! The eel had a mild flavour and the cocoa added a real richness to the dish without making it too heavy. Civilisations for thousands of years have used cocoa as a spice in savoury dishes so maybe we should get into using it some more…
Again, another one that’s hard to see in the photo but it was pretty much as described - duck breast Tandoori-style, baby lettuce and wine-flavoured apricots. I’ve become a bit of a duck fan over the last few years and this one definitely didn’t disappoint.
Just as we thought we were about to hit the main dessert dish the chef changed it up on us and brought out a couple surprises. He sent out a beautiful strawberry marshmallow with a coffee ice cream mix and then a fluffy little pastry. Both were gorgeous.
As I said at Cracco, we have started to see some trends in the menus on our trip. The finishing dessert at Imago was a memory of Zabaione-flavoured egg, coffee cream and orgeat water ice. You’ll notice that the theme is similar to the dessert at Cracco but when we tasted it we realised it was quite different. It was the perfect ending to an amazing meal.
One tip we’ve picked up thus far in Italy – you’ll quickly notice that they give the menu with prices to the gentleman and the menu without prices to the lady. Quite a throwback in these “modern” times but we loved it. It seemed old school and classy. In any case, a couple more meals in Italy and then we’re off to Spain!