Alternate Title: What the hell has happened to Big Joe?, Part 8
‘Here we are’
Where Audrey went, so the G.-man follows…..
…..after a decent interval
Not much has changed, the Colosseum is still there…..
…..but the prices have gone sky high and anything iconic
or famed has become a veritable cash cow
The Groover has been milked !
So the saying goes, ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do’
And yesterday (All Saints Day) evening I cruised into…..
‘Al Leoncino’ for some Roman pizza
There are lots of pizzerias in Rome so how do you know
which one to choose ?
The right answer is to get yourself a cicerone…..
…..or failing that follow the G.-man
Al Leoncino doesn’t have a name technically since Leoncino
is simply the name of the street
Al Leoncino doesn’t even have a sign outside, the owners have
just hand-painted the word ‘PIZZERIA’ on the wall above the
There is no menu posted outside on the wall
There is no seating outside
There is no lectern with a menu in six languages (and flags)
However, there is a very big clue as to what goes on inside
Yes, a long line of happy, chattering Romani waiting
hungrily for a table on a balmy November evening
There were plenty of pizzerie within a short distance
away that they could have gone to…..
NO, that was for the tourists
This is where the Romani eat
This is where the Romani eat authentic Roman pizza
This is simply the best (Tina Turner, 1992)
Now if you are of a delicate disposition and formica strikes
a discordant note with you then you may wish to avoid this
Similarly if you are prone to claustrophobic panic attacks in
over crowded, confined spaces you may prefer to look away now
If neither of the above boxes have been ticked you have struck
the gastronomic lottery
The staff are straight out of a Fellini film, let’s say ‘Amarcord, 1973’
My cicerone tells me the principal waiter used to serve her as a
child 50 years ago…………
…..he wears a white (once) waiter’s jacket and sports a
permanent louring look
…..he has a white (once) dish cloth which he throws over his
…..he doesn’t have any teeth (apparently, I didn’t verify this !)
…..but he could pull a pint (actually 0.4l) of Peroni faster than
greyhound with a rocket up its arse…..
…..and get it to the sacred space on the table in front of you
ready for consumption with a dexterity one can only marvel at..
…..without spilling a drop (thank you, the beer god)
So far, so very good !
The ageing, leopard skin print top adorned crone that was on
order-taking duty soon pitched up…..
…..The G.-man is aware that Italians never talk when they can
shout (‘To Rome With Love, 2012, Woody Allen) but this, err, lady,
took it to a whole new level
As it happened the discreetly concealed hearing-aid was the reason
Bless her and her noisy ways
Now this eaterie serves bruschetta the original way…..
…..not the way we are used to getting it nowadays
…..bruschetta is meant to be toasted bread (cut thickly) that
is then rubbed with garlic, then drizzled with extra virgin olive
oil and you should then add more oil, salt and pepper to taste
at the table when Lurch (the butler from the 1960s TV series The
Addams Family) and company place it in front of you
Then onto the pizze which are thin crust, wonderful and don’t
leave feeling like you have eaten a brick after the event……
…..in my case ‘Salsiccia and funghi’ (sausage and mushroom)
This is the real deal
When you appear to be finished the staff let you know you have by
trying to take your plate away…..
…..Hell, there’s a bloody great queue outside and they have hungry
Romani to feed
Bless them all
Written from seventh heaven on one of the seven hills !