So, haters gotta hate. I’m very amused reading on TripAdvisor the latest reviews for Sora Margherita. Diners are upset that others love this place so much (and that they didn’t), and they complain about it being expensive, which I just don’t understand as it looks the same prices as elsewhere. Mostly, they complain about the one feisty waitress, who I adore.
Years ago, in San Francisco, there was a Chinese restaurant famous for a waiter who was purposely and famously rude to customers. People came from all over to be treated rudely. I don’t think this is in the same category at all: the waitress simply has a very direct manner, and I LOVE that she often digs a fork into the last piece of food on a plate, and feeds it to you by hand. Waste not, want not, I’d say. And how could you let this beautiful food go to waste?
So, really: I think if you’re not up for adventure and you are kind of prissy about food and service, just DO NOT GO. Go to one of the touristy places elsewhere. There are a lot on the main street, rather than trying to find this quiet entrance, around the corner.
As for me, I decided to try my luck for Saturday lunch. I arrived at 12:15pm and no one was in a line, so I put my name on the door, went for a walk, and came back at 12:30pm. The restaurant because mostly full, but not entirely, and as I find sometimes happens in Europe, even though there was a completely empty table next to ours, I was seated right in a corner, and the next couple, who also didn’t have reservations, were seated with me (basically two tables for two, but together without any space between them).
This could be awkward but the friendly Calgarians introduced themselves and we had a nice chat.
In any case, I got my fix of deep-fried artichoke. Wonderful, though comparing photos with last time, this was a smaller one, and had less heart. Luck of the draw (or season?) I guess.
For my pasta, I decided to be adventurous and order one of the specials, with amatriciana sauce. I still can’t quite remember the name of the pasta, but when it showed up, it was a thick spaghetti, basically. Not fresh pasta, and al dente. At first, I thought it was just OK, but then, getting into it, there were little pieces of guanciale, a sort of bacon, that were both deep-fried and charred, so both a crunch and this charcoal hit of fat that combined with the rich tomato sauce and the pasta made this dish pretty good.
Dining on my own meant I couldn’t split dishes with anyone and that’s all I had room for, but hey, I love this place! I’ll just have to come back for more. And look, they’ve changed their business cards from red to blue.
Check out my review below from 6 June 2016:
So, this was my favourite restaurant experience in Rome. It ticked all the boxes for authenticity, eccentricity, value and heart… it allowed me to try a few new dishes, and yup, I adored this place, that was recommend by a colleague (thanks Nihan!)
I also found it hilarious that as we sat down, the very tough and no nonsense waitress was scolding a table of (I think) Scandinavians near us who had ordered a deep-fried artichoke and had left the best part, the heart. She cut into it, stuck a fork into it and waved it under the mouths of each of the designers. The women, frightened, refused, but the man in their party ate a heart off the fork, to cheers all around. It was the second time I’d seen the wait staff or managers of a restaurant schooling foreigners on how to eat Italian food, in a forceful manner.
In any case, that dish was a stand-out for me. I’d never tried it before, the leaves deep-fried so crisp that you could eat them like potato crisps, the earthy, savoury flavour of artichoke made decadent through deep-frying. And of course, the heart was delicious.
In the two times I managed to go to this restaurant, we tried a few other appetizers too. A classic mozzarella (how could you go wrong?) and eggplant, grilled and marinated (delicious).
With my better half, we split a pasta dish, a filled pasta with a meat sauce. This was only half the dish. Generous servings. Delicious. Fresh. Honest. Mmm..
Ah, the next time, fresh pasta, with cheese and pepper, with a dollop of ricotta on top. It was unbelievable.
I’m not sure how we managed to fit it in for lunch, but we also ate fried bacalao (salted cod).
For dessert, to finish, a classic pannacotta. And we downed it with some grappa.
Tucked in a quiet side street in the Jewish quarter, the first time we went, for dinner, we arrived right at its opening hour, and managed to get in only because someone who’d reserved hadn’t shown up!
And for lunch a few days later, it was busy, but not a problem to get a table.
A few of the reviews online seem disappointed that Sora Margherita is more expensive than it once was, or was not as good as it was. Ah, nostalgia. For me, judging by the present, this place is pretty special, and I think the photos speak for themselves… I am really, really happy we found this place. If you get the chance, GO!