Il Sanlorenzo in Rome: form and substance

Don't be fooled by the name, which nonetheless has a meaning: in the historic centre of Rome at a stone's throw from the noisy Campo dè Fiori and from the traffic congested Corso Vittorio Emanuele, on Via dei Chiavari to be precise, this is where the windows of the SanLorenzo look out, the best the eternal city has to offer if fish and shellfish are your passion.

As is often the case in the capital, the restaurants in the centre that offer products by definition "rich" are an attraction not only for gourmet customers, but mainly for that part of humanity who give central importance to public relations. So don't get scared off by the constant presence of the usual politicians, recognizable faces and celebrities, because here the game is serious, really very serious.

Enrico Pierri and Elena Lenzini are the creators of this small Roman miracle, capable of bringing together and wonderfully blending these two different plots, the one of a classically bourgeois restaurant and the gourmet one featuring excellent products. Witness to this is the counter at the entrance, where the fish that arrives daily from the Pontine Islands is displayed: a ritual that is often exclusively scenic and with a wilted flavour, here shows off the excellent raw ingredients that are a pleasure even to look at.

Arrive a few minutes early, take over the chesterfield sofa at the entrance and, with a glass at hand, observe the calm of this restaurant, among the paintings of the Roman school of San Lorenzo, flowers and the relaxing light that filters from the large windows that tell so much about Rome.

While you move to your table in one of the two calm and welcoming halls, be curious and look at the work of the crew busy in the open-plan kitchen or at the "man of raw-fish" right behind the fish counter.

Make yourselves comfortable and be guided through the flavours of a cuisine that is never seeking sensationalism, but prefers to opt for classic preparations with a sober creative touch. A product-based kitchen here finds meaning and position: molluscs, shellfish and fish are processed respecting absolute freshness, allowing them to speak instead of the chef, all with an elegant accent from the Campania region.

The paper cornet of fried anchovies or the Ponza anchovies served to welcome you together with a celestial lemon sandwich are emblematic of the lunch you are about to start.

Tartare, battuta and carpaccio change constantly according to what arrives: the coffa cod is perfectly seasoned as a tartare, the battuta of red prawns tastes of sea and red oranges, while the mullet carpaccio is long and comforting.

Oysters, scampi and sea food are not to be overlooked before facing-up to one of the mains.

If in season, the spaghetti with sea urchin must be ordered for a very simple reason: why give up a stroll on the beach where the waves are lifting a sea breeze while comfortably seated at a nice table in the centre of town?

Then there are the clams, the really authentic ones, razor clams and wedge shells for those who have the patience and are not excessively greedy to love the crunchiness of sand between their teeth.

I think a nice roasted fish or cooked in the oven, with raw ingredients of this quality, is the best choice, but if gluttony is your capital sin then without too many doubts opt for the half squid stuffed with friarielli (the typical leafy broccoli from the Campania region) and smoked provola cheese with that creative touch that does not mortify the product and satisfies your gut and palate.

Whether your wine is finished or if there is some left in the glass, the wine selection of the SanLorenzo is a serious matter, try a pudding: the babà, among all of them, is a delicacy.

Take some time at your table, relax and enjoy the lunch you have just finished, basically draw inspirations from the cats sunbathing in the nearby Torre Argentina, because you are in the right place to indulge in laziness and put stress behind you, after all you have just approached a great seafood restaurant that can tell so much about the New Southern Cuisine.

Tags: Fish / Campo dei Fiori / Rome /

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