Italy is the founding nation of a global food movement known as the Slow Food Movement. This movement was originally founded in 1986 in opposition to fast food. In fact, it was started in protest to a McDonalds opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Today the movement has expanded to over 150 countries, including the United States. Its objectives include promoting buying local, fresh, and organic food, educating the public about the food system, food safety, and the risks of fast food, and trying to encourage people to buy the best tasting, best grown, and best overall food for yourself and our world. Many restaurants in Rome embrace this slow food movement, one of them being Urbana 47.
Urbana 47, named for its location on via Urbana, 47, right by the Cavour metro B stop, is by no means your traditional Italian trattoria or pizzeria. It is much more similar to the kinds of restaurants that populate Philadelphia. It was relatively small, very modern and super sleek. Although the look and feel of the restaurant was more what I was used to, the thing that got it on my list (as is always the case) was the food. Urbana 47 prides itself on “healthy cuisine,” but most importantly, the restaurant has a “zero food miles” philosophy. This means that all their ingredients come from nearby, small producers which allows them to leave a small environmental footprint and insure they are using only regional, fresh, and quality ingredients.
In addition to the a la carte option, Urbana 47 also offers 3 tasting menus for you to choose from “to make you appreciate the quality of “km 0″ local products,” as they put it. I opted for the first tasting menu: 2 savory courses and a dessert for 35 Euro.
Since Urbana’s menu was more modern and a bit more refined than the trattorias I had become familiar with, I was less certain about the items that I had ordered. There was an English version of the menu online that I had looked over, but I did not remember details from it. This made it all the more exciting to guess which dish was mine as I watched the kitchen prepare the plates. When I saw them plate this particular dish, I desperately hoped it was meant for me and was happy to find out that it was.
Two generous slices of mozzarella di bufala grilled and placed atop two piles of crispy chicory with a sweet and spicy tomato jam on the side. Oh my goooosssh. This was incredible. It was rich from the cheese which had traces of smokiness from the grill and was countered by the bitter-sharp taste of the chicory, and then it was all brought together with the sweetness of the jam which lightened the whole thing up. Perfection.
My second dish was more of a mystery to me. All I knew was that it was something with cod. It ended up being a cod and potato tort topped with a creamy parmesan cheese sauce. Even as I ate I couldn’t find where the super fresh taste of cod was coming from. I didn’t care. The dish reminded me of scalloped potatoes, a favorite of mine growing up. Despite how much effort clearly went into the making of the dish, it didn’t taste overly complicated. There was a good balance between the cod, potato and cheese, and it was just enough food to satisfy my hunger.
What my dessert would be was, as well, a mystery to me. What I was brought was quaint, simple, and chocolate. It looked promising.
I was pleased to discover that the dessert was a take on tiramisu. There was a light chocolate-coffee mousse layer on the bottom topped with a light sponge cake layer, topped with a chocolate pudding layer finished off with a bit of whipped cream and espresso beans. It was not too sweet and had more mousse than cake to it, which I liked.
Urbana 47 ended up being exactly what I needed. I was ready for a break from heaping piles of pasta (delicious as they may be) and was missing the restaurants I had grown to know so well in Philly. At Urbana 47 I was able to reconnect with a more familiar style of dining while still experiencing the classic flavors of Rome’s chicory, cod, and cheese. The best part of all was that I knew the food I was eating supported a local system of fresh, quality, slow food.