Lovely Food Among the Ruins


Finally, a new team of talented young chefs at Caffè Bernini, in Rome's magnificent Piazza Navona, has created a delicious anomal—a good restaurant in the middle of a tourist mecca. Emiliano Pascucci (Heinz Beck's sous chef at Rome's only three-star Michelin, La Pergola) consults on the menu, and his protégé, Emanuele Maggio, is the emerging talent in the kitchen. The traditional Roman menu has been tweaked with such dishes as tuna tartare on diced celery and ginger-marinated shrimp. In October, the wine bar will open in the underground cantina, once part of Emperor Domitian's ancient stadium that is now buried underneath the piazza. Problem is, Piazza Navona is getting so tacky I'm not even sure I want to eat there anymore. But that may change soon as the mayor has vowed to clean it up, cracking down on unlicensed vendors and itinerant buskers. Already, the central Church of Sant'Agnese gleams with restored beauty, and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini's main Fountain of the Four Rivers is under scaffolding until later this summer. But those vendors—hawking everything from Chinese cigarette lighters to soccer memorabilia—threaten to outnumber the tourists. Still, at sunset, when golden light washes over those graceful Baroque buildings, you're happy to be there.

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