Our Anniversary to Italy: Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!

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Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks.  It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited!  In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.

Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich.  We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!

Eating In Rome Part 2

Emily’s Best Meal Was at La Pergola in the Hilton Waldorf-Astroia, Rome Cavalieri Hotel!

Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:

Splurge Meals

We saved for these splurges by either having a heavy breakfast for free at the hotel and skipping lunch (or eating less) and by going to McDonalds or cheaper restaurants.

1.   Mirabelle Restaurant

Link:   Mirabelle Menu

Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Mirabelle Restaurant, a one star Michelin restaurant in Rome, for dinner.  He made reservation via email before we left for Rome.

The Michelin Guide anonymously critiques gourmet restaurants.  The guide is considered the best ranking of gourmet restaurants.  Restaurants listed in the guide are given a star rating:

  • 1 star = very good
  • 2 stars = excellent
  • 3 stars = exceptional
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Daraius Looking Forward to a Great Meal at Mirabelle

The restaurant was at the top of the Hotel Splendide Royal.

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The Mirabelle Restaurant Is in the Hotel Splendide Royal

The hotel lobby was beautiful!

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The Classic Furniture and Fixtures in the Hotel Lobby Created a Romantic Feel

I could have happily stayed here for a night!

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Emily Wishing She Could Stay the Night

We took the elevator to the top floor.  The restaurant was also very pretty inside, with lots of elegant Italian furnishings.

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The Decor Created an Extra Touch of Romance

There was even a piano by the doorway.

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The Entrance Into Mirabelle Restaurant

We sat outside and enjoyed the cool breeze and beautiful views.

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We Chose to Dine Outside to Enjoy the Fresh Air and Watch the Sunset

The sunset was beautiful, and we wished that we would have made reservations earlier to watch more.

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We Are Glad We Did, Because the Sunset Was the Highlight of Our Evening!

The seating outside was warm and inviting.  I loved the plant decorations that made it feel like a garden!

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Emily Waiting for Our First Course

Link:  Tasting Menu

Link:  Dinner Menu

Daraius ordered the tasting menu which cost 135 euro (~$185) including tax and gratuity.  We save our money (we don’t even have cable!) so that we can spend it on travel, books, and food!

Restaurants usually require everyone at the table to order the tasting menu so that they can better coordinate serving the food.  But in Italy, restaurants didn’t seem to mind if Daraius had the tasting menu and I ordered off the menu.  It must be the Italian way!

I ordered onion soup with two cheeses, and beef fillet with potatoes and grilled vegetables for dinner.  For dessert I ordered a vanilla soufflé that was also very good (but expensive).  The dessert alone was 28 euros (~$38) per person!

We received a large selection of bread.  The bread with the tomatoes was my favorite.

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The Waiter Served an Assortment of Breads Before Our Meal

First, we were served an appetizer.

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We Also Received an Appetizer Compliments of the Chef

Daraius got the first course in his tasting menu which was different variations of his favorite goose liver.

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The First Course of the Tasting Menu

Then he got his second course which was Tuna Belly with Mint, and Gazpacho “Andaluso” sorbet.

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Each Course Was Plated So Beautifully

Next up for Daraius was the Red King Prawns with Balsamic, Buffalo Yogurt Water Melon and peanuts

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Daraius’ Prawns and Watermelon Dish Was the Perfect Mix of Salty and Sweet

I also received my appetizer, but was didn’t understand why I had to wait until Daraius’ 3rd course to get it!  By then I had finished quite a bit of bread because I was so hungry.

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Emily’s Appetizer

Next was Daraius’ fourth course, Spaghetti with Pesto “Trapanese “Style Fresh Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs

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Daraius’ Fourth Dish From the Tasting Menu Was Spaghetti With Anchovies

After that, I got my main course, which was beef…

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Emily’s Beef Was So Tender and She Loved the Different Colors on Her Plate

and a side of grilled vegetables.

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Emily’s Beef Was Served With Grilled Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Onions

Daraius got his fifth course.

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The Fifth Course Included Fish.  No Sharing Because Emily’s Allergic!

We received a swan firecracker for our anniversary.

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The Swan Firecracker Added Some Extra Spark to Our Anniversary Dinner!

This was a long leisurely meal which lasted 3 hours.  That said, I wasn’t served my soup until an hour after we first sat down.  Daraius, on the other hand, had already been served 3 of his 7 courses by then.

The wine sommelier also forgot to serve me my red wine with dinner, which turned out fine because I drank Daraius’ wine from his wine flight.  Psst:  If anyone knows Daraius, they know he gets sleepy and tired after half a glass of wine.

But they did take very good care of my fish allergy, and Daraius felt comfortable enough to order the tasting menu which included 5 fish dishes.  The sunset view from the terrace was spectacular and the restaurant was very romantic.  We agreed with the 1 Michelin star ranking.

2.   La Pergola

Daraius surprised me with an elevator ride to the 9th floor of Roma Cavalierifor dinner at La Pergola, a 3 star Michelin restaurant.

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Daraius Surprising Emily With A Special Dinner at Le Pergola, the Highest Rated Restaurant in Rome

I was surprised he took me here, because it’s the only 3 star Michelin restaurant in Rome (and also expensive)!  It was our anniversary though, and I guess he wanted to treat us to a nice meal in Rome.

Daraius:  Emily’s favorite cuisine is Italian, so I did a lot of restaurant research on Chowhound and other sites for our splurge meals.  La Pergola was an easy pick!

I emailed the hotel concierge ~2 months in advance of our visit and asked for a table outside on the terrace.  But we were too late for that and got a table in the main dining room.  Men are required to wear a jacket in the restaurant.

Emily Jablon:  The restaurant is beautiful and has some exquisite artwork…

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The Restaurant Featured an Art Gallery

and handblown Emile Gallé vases.

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The Delicate Handmade Emile Galle Vases

We sat down and were warmly greeted by the staff.  We had a table indoors by the window, which was very nice.

We were given the wine list, the food menu…

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La Pergola Menu Featured a Large Selection of Seafood

and the water menu.

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Who Knew That Water Needed a Separate Menu!

I enjoyed looking at all three menus.  The attention to detail that the restaurant paid to food and beverages was astounding!

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Emily Enjoying La Pergola’s 3 Different Menus

To start with we had a spumante…

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We Started With a Spumante

with a complimentary beef carpaccio serving, which was excellent.

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The Beef Carpaccio

Link:  La Pergola Menus

Daraius ordered the 9 course tasting menu which cost 210 euros or ~$287.  I ordered off the menu because there was a lot of fish in the tasting menu, and I’m allergic to seafood.  I ordered the duck foie gras, the Fagottelli “La Pergola” and the variation of duck on topinambur purée with sweet-and-sour vegetables.

The meal cost us more than a month’s worth of groceries!  But we don’t spend much money elsewhere and had saved up for this splurge.

He received his first course, “Tonno tonnato.”

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The Tonno Tonnato Was Tuna Broth With Freeze Dried and Ground Tuna

and then his next course, emincé of lobster on apricot purée with basil puff.

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The Second Course of Emince of Lobster on Apricot Purée

I also received my foie gras, which was excellent.  They brought my food out a lot quicker than they had at La Mirabelle.

Next, he received “Taste of the Sea.”

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Taste of the Sea Was a Fish Soup

At this time I received my second course, which was the Fagottelli “La Pergola” pasta.  This was the best Italian food which I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.  I’m a light eater, but I wished I could eat more of this!

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Emily’s Second Course of Pasta in a Bacon and Vegetable Broth

Daraius also received his next course, king prawns in tempura on purée of fried squids….

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Deep Fried Prawns and Squid

and then cod with celery sauce and curry crust.

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Daraius Then Enjoyed Cod With Celery Sauce

For my main course, I had the variation of duck on topinambur purée with sweet and sour vegetables.

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Emily Chose the Duck for Her Main Course

Daraius finally had his last course, fillet of veal.

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Daraius Had Veal Fillet With Mushroom Sauce, Truffles, and Potatoes for the Last Course

We reviewed the dessert menu…

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The Dessert Menu From La Pergola

but I decided to skip dessert since I was so full, which was a good thing because we were served an armoire that was full of little treats…

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The Waiter Brought Us an Armoire and Each Drawer Contained a Different Dessert Inside

with each drawer you pulled, you found a new treat!

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Delicious Petit Fours in the Armoire

We also received two small ice cream cones with refreshing pineapple and chocolate, and an anniversary cake with gooseberries.

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One Candle to Celebrate One Great Year

Each dish was amazing!

Daraius also had his dessert which was part of his tasting menu!

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Daraius’ Dessert Was Raspberry Ice Over Chocolate

We also had cheese!

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Our Meal Was Topped Off With an Assortment of Italian Cheeses

I now have a new favorite Michelin star restaurant!  The chef, Heinz Beck, is actually from Germany and came out to greet the diners after the meal.  I made sure to lavish my praises for the wonderful food, which was delicious!

Daraius:  Chef Beck came out to greet the diners.  Even though he is originally from Germany, he speaks fluent Italian.  He seemed to know a few of the diners because he was thanking them for visiting again.

The gentleman at the table next to ours gave him a big hug and kept on interjecting “Heinz Beck Number 1!” during his conversation with the chef.  His female dining companion didn’t seem to enjoy the attention that he was lavishing on the chef at her expense!

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La Pergola Served One of the Best Meals We Have Ever Had and Meeting Chef Beck Was an Excellent Way to End Our Perfect Night!

Bottom Line

We tried 2 Michelin starred restaurants during our stay in Rome.

The atmosphere was very romantic at Mirabelle, though I had to wait a bit for my food.

Le Pergola deserved all its 3 stars (Daraius rated it a 2.5).  It was possibly the best meal which I’ve ever had!  It was the perfect place to celebrate our anniversary.

We save our money throughout the year so that we can have a few splurge meals like these during our travels!

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4 responses to “Our Anniversary to Italy: Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!

  1. The Mirabelle food presentations were amazing….They deserve another star… La Pergola did not present the food as fancy it seem much more plainly done but i guess good tooo…

  2. Wow, I can’t believe how expensive those meals were! My wife and I love to travel to South America and Thailand, where even gourmet meals are dirt cheap compared to what you guys ate. Guess I’ll have to start saving up if I want to treat my wife to a few nights on the town when we head to Europe this summer 🙂

  3. Those look like fantastic meals.

    Please don’t be so disingenuous though as to act like you guys need to save up for a year for a couple of pricey meals when you’re bringing in healthy 6 figures in CC commissions! It’s unbecoming.

    Jared… plenty of bargains to be had even in big European capitals. And usually much better food and service than is found at these foo-foo places for inflated prices!

  4. I agree with you about expense of luxe meals in Italy. But you save for the special times (and eat ramen other times lol). We ate at Trussardi in Milan and that set me back $1200 for 3 people, wine inclusive. Honestly, for the quality/amount of food and service level, I thought it was worth it. Call me a jaded New Yorker, but I can easily spend $75-100 on a mediocre meal there, sometimes without wine. The cost of THE top Italian meal was less than a tasting at Per Se or Daniel so I thought I was coming out ok. Excellent review!