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Restaurant Pauline Borghese
Restaurant Pauline Borghese
Parco dei Principi, Rome, Italy
5 Stars and 6 Stripes
Extraordinary - Society
January - 2006
5 Stars & 6 Stripes
Cuisine & Service

The Ultimate Award:
Seven Stars and Stripes™
Simone looked radiant as she dressed in preparation for our cuisine review event later this evening in the Restaurant Pauline Borghese located in the venerable Parco dei Principi Hotel in Rome. The Romans were masters in the art of statuary portraiture and I remember thinking how much my wife Simone resembled some of the finer profiles I had seen earlier in the day during our city tour. Dinner was scheduled for eight and we were on target to meet up with our other team members Arno and Stephanie at the bar for an aperitif to kick off the evening. The whole experience so far was one of supreme relaxation punctuated by magnificent vistas of superbly manicured gardens flowing literally from your doorstep all the way to the Vatican. It is an oasis of peace and tranquility directly in the heart of a major European city.
Our table was strategically chosen by the Maitre D' Marco Andronico for its characteristics of suggesting privacy yet conveying a feeling of unlimited freedom coming from the view adjacent to our location near the window. Before we could be seated, bartender Luigi called us over to his immaculately maintained and festooned bar for a brief interlude of champagne and canapés. A perfectly chilled bottle of 1998 Dom Perignon, an exceptional champagne from Möet et Chandon, a fine winery that has been in business since 1747 was the focus of our attention. Simone - Thorsten - Arno - Stephanie
Simone - Thorsten - Arno - Stephanie
Its youthfulness attempted to belie the aromatic citrus fruits wrapped by a blanket of soft spice with visual nuances of straw yellow gold and fine mousse. The bite-sized canapés were delicate and tasty offering the ideal introduction to the creative cuisine of Executive Chef Gianfranco Calidonna. Together with the subtle ambiance of dark brown paneled wood accents and nearby tiffany stained-glass windows, we felt as though we had been invited into the elegant home of an Italian Renaissance prince.
Restaurant Pauline Borghese - Cuisine We could hear the soft sounds of classical piano music from the restaurant, which drew us away from the bar and into the arms of Maitre D' Marco who announced that our table was waiting. We entered the intimate setting of subdued lighting, rich cherry wood elements, tapestry-like curtains and festive seasonal decorations, which added to the relaxed, secure atmosphere.
Our location was directly next to a rather large window framed by lush fabric-covered walls, which provided a cozy warmth that radiated throughout the entire room of about eight other tables. Our server Giuseppe was quick to point out that we should put our menus aside and allow Executive Chef Gianfranco work his magic with his innovative cuisine. Candles strategically placed on all the tables seemed to reflect softly the highlighted brilliance of the real silver utensils.
Our server produced the Amuse Bouche from the kitchen consisting of Smoked Salmon and Mozzarella on Tender Field Greens with Olive Crostini over which was poured a strongly scented fruity extra-virgin olive oil, obviously cold-pressed. A chilled bottle of Villa Russiz 2002 Pinot Grigio the perfect partner for starters, appeared and was dutifully poured for us. It displayed an intense bouquet of toasted almonds and sun-dried hay and together with its straw yellow color proved to be an elegant pairing for this course. Restaurant Pauline Borghese - Cuisine
Next came Polpo al Vapore on Green Cauliflower with Polenta and Broccoli Purée, a decidedly unusual rendition of steamed whole octopus, which incidentally tasted tender and held up to the influences of the broccoli purée over polenta. With this course we began to chat it up a bit as we were impressed with the originality of Chef Gianfranco's take on the oddities of provincial Italian cuisine. A quick glance around and we were reminded of the splendid views emanating from the windows adjacent to our table. The sun was setting over the Borghese Gardens and provided contrasting hues of soft reds, pinks and blues in the sky while the landscaping was backlit by indirect garden lights from below.
Restaurant Pauline Borghese - Cuisine Our server Giuseppe returned to clear the dishes and simultaneously change our napkins as well; a nice touch that we discovered is often a staple of some finer restaurants in our reviews. After clearing we were presented with Veal Stuffed with Goat Cheese in Zabaglione Marsala Sauce, a superb cut of meat that can hold up to the richness of the marsala fortified zabaglione sauce. A rather powerful bottle of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore Gaiospino 2002 was offered as a pairing to the elegant veal.
It presented a medium lemon yellow body with excellent structure and complex nose of honeysuckle, citrus and toast. Just the right amount of oak worked to contain its powerful nose thus tempering it enough to work well with the delicate veal. Next up was the Sautéed Lobster with Dill Sauce and Spinach Pappardelle for Simone and Rosette of Roasted Salmon with Exotic Spices for me, both paired with a bottle of Antinoo Chardonnay 2000, Casale del Giglio. This beautiful wine is produced near Rome and displays transparent straw yellow and green tints wrapped in an elegant intense nose of refined vanilla. It finished with persistent good flavors of litchi, peach and pineapple that offered a great match for the ocean fresh lobster as well as the salmon.
It was time to exhale a bit as plates were cleared while taking in all that we had experienced so far with regard to this superb culinary experience. We were in the artful hands of an accomplished chef and his team, creating one masterpiece after another. Within minutes of our respite came our final course of Filet Mignon Crustade, baked in Polenta Crust, a delightfully different take on the usual pastry crust that is seen so often enveloping this tender cut of meat. The polenta was laced with finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, which lent just the right amount of sharpness to the otherwise neutral tasting polenta. Restaurant Pauline Borghese - Cuisine
A successful wine paring of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Marina Cvetic 2000, a stellar wine with a blossoming nose of sweet oak and dark fruits. Add to that mild tannins on the palate together with its big, rich not to astringent and not too ripeness in the fruit for a very fine wine drinking experience. We slowly continued to savor the wine while espresso was being offered and the table was being prepared for dessert.
Restaurant Pauline Borghese - Dessert I ordered latte macchiato and this was dutifully delivered piping hot along with petite fours and a very special Cioccolato Lava Timbale with fresh berries made to resemble the volcano Vesuvius, complete with flowing chocolate 'lava' upon slicing open the cone.
We decided to retire to the very comfortable bar to visit Luigi again, and were impressed with his suggestion for a nightcap of Picolit Nonino Grappa to wile away the waning hours of our remarkable evening in this special place. Luigi's choice of the Nonino grappa showed his intense and deep knowledge of some of the best kept secretes of Italian specialties. Nonino is produced as the first ever single-vineyard, single-grape distillate successfully using the picolit grape varietal. Furthermore, it revolutionized the industry with its uniquely intense aroma and flavor components.
It was late now and we bid goodnight to Luigi the bartender as Marco the Maitre d' allowed us to poke our heads into the kitchen just as Executive Chef Gianfranco and his team were cleaning up and preparing to leave. "Even though we are finished for the evening, the work is never done" said Chef Gianfranco, "I must prepare my team for the challenges of tomorrow and plan the menus that will satisfy our guests." We were delighted to hear this from an executive chef as it shows the leadership and planning skills necessary to operate successful business of such high caliber.
Massimo Canzian & Thorsten Buehrmann & Gianfranco Calidonna
Massimo Canzian & Thorsten Buehrmann & Gianfranco Calidonna
“Executive Chef Gianfranco works magic with his innovative cuisine.” ~ TB
by Thorsten & Simone Buehrmann & Arno Goudschaal & Stephanie Leismann

Editor: Ingrid Lemme

Editor-in-Chief: John Lomitola
© 2005 ~ Seven Stars and Stripes, Inc.

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Although the above information was accurate at the time of publication, it can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all pertinent information with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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