La Pergola - Heinz Beck At His 3* Best (Michelometer at 9*)

When we were researching our global food journey I quickly added La Pergola in Rome to our itinerary. Firstly, it is the only three Michelin-starred restaurant in Rome, and second, its head chef is Heinz Beck, who is world renown for the things he’s done over the years. He even made a guest appearance on Channel 7 in Sydney back a few months ago. But as with Imago, I had no idea how amazing the views were! We were again treated to a fantastic table, right on the edge of the patio overlooking the whole of Rome. You can’t beat this view…

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As for the food, well, it was just beautiful. We’ve only done one other three starred restaurant before, Jean-Georges in NYC for lunch, so we didn’t know what to expect. I usually don’t start with a dessert shot but this picture really sums up our visit to La Pergola. Look at the inquisitive look and expression on the Gourmet Female’s face! This was a dessert surprise box, with an amazing little treat in each tray.

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I know that's an "after" shot, but here's a "before" shot. She looks so happy. In retrospect this was the start of an amazing night and an incredible meal. 

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Our first dish was “Tonno tonnato”. What you see is a rich tuna broth with freeze dried and ground tuna powder. We immediately knew that something different was up here. Yes, Cracco and Imago were amazing but this was going to be special.

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Next up was an emince of lobster on apricot puree with basil puff. The lobster was barely cooked and was amazingly soft. The primary flavours matched so incredibly well – I was inspired to try to create something similar when we return home.

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This was followed with, “The sea…” I don’t really know how to explain this dish to do it any justice! One of our friends who have been following our journey asked what the dish of foam was all about. I guess if you imagine all the amazing flavours you’ve ever had from the sea, condense that thought into a foam and place it on a plate that would nail it. Still unclear? Visit and eat it!

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The lightest pasta dish we had on the trip was fagottelli “La Pergola”. They were light pockets of pasta sitting in an amazing broth of bacon and vegetables.

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Quickly I realised that while I understood what the names of the dishes were I wasn’t going to be able to understand the complexity that underlies them. Case in point were the king prawns in tempura on puree of fried squids. Yes, that’s king prawns with squid but no, there was so much more going on than that. But they were a perfect segue to the remainder of the meal.

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Our first main savoury dish was cod with celery sauce and curry crust. If I could cook cod like this my friends would never leave my house. The fish was masterfully cooked and the celery sauce was the finest, lightest accompaniment to the dish I could have imagined. Best fish fillet dish of the trip!

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Our final main savoury dish was fillet of veal with mushrooms, summer truffle, and potatoes. This was so good that the next day I went to a deli in Rome and picked up a big jar of summer truffle to try to recreate this dish or to use with duck when we return. It had the right level of richness but also treated the mushrooms with the care that they deserve.

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Dessert started with a fine selection of cheeses from the trolley. Each was handpicked by our waiter and individually plated up for our enjoyment. We then had a nice sorbet palate cleanser.

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We were then given a couple other desserts, including a gorgeous chocolate suffle.

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Like I said before, this picture of the “Grand dessert” and the Gourmet Female’s reaction says it all. Each individual tray had some tasty surprise, whether it be a macaron, fruit jelly, or chocolate truffle. They were all beautiful.

The food and service at La Pergola was very refined but yet retained a sense of whimsy. Looking back on it, while we more enjoy the laid back atmosphere in Spain it was the experience of a lifetime to get properly dressed up, stare at the skyline of Rome, and enjoy a meal from one of the best chefs on the planet. Thanks, chef! 

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