Dining Out: Ordering the Specials
There are two schools of thought when it comes to ordering “specials” from a menu. One idea is specials are the chef’s playground and opportunity to deviate from the regular routine. The theory holds when something new is on the menu it’s because there are fresh seasonal ingredients or an inspiring chef in the kitchen. When this is the case why WOULDN’T you want to order the special? The other, more cynical view, is that “special” is code for “trying to clean the kitchen” and is to be avoided unless you’re into leftovers.
And though I don’t like admitting it, I usually take the second approach and skip the specials. Such was my inclination when presented with a “special” mozzarella menu at Obica in Campo di Fiori. Our waitress gushed about the options – one smoky cheese, one firm, one soft, the other two somehow different from the first three. I skipped right past the pitch.However, my friends, Tom and Susan, were much more optimistic. “Let’s share the platter!” they offered with enthusiasm.
“Sure. OK” we replied.I didn’t want to kill the mood, but I couldn’t imagine mozzarella having so many different variations.
Clearly, I had a failure of imagination. In fact, one of the first things I’ll do when I go back to Rome will be to return for a cheese plate. Check out this goodness.Of course, the picture doesn’t do the flavors justice. You can spot the firm, smoky, and soft cheese (lower left, lower right, upper right respectively), but the other two were some how in-between in texture and flavors. Definitely put this on your short list.
Of COURSE you can have the cheese on your pizza. My favorite was the pie with arugula.But the margarita was similarly stellar.By the end of the week in Rome, everyone had stopped by for the platter and the reviews were universally raving.Also on the short list was the meat platter (in this case the smoked turkey won first place). So, so great!If you need a breakfast or afternoon snack, hit Obica again. The ham and cheese Panini’s do not disappoint. Note that the service in this place is a tad inattentive, so don't be in a rush.My new resolution is to try the specials - - at least when I'm in Rome!