Ristorante Matricianella, Rome, Italy
At long last. After having frustratingly missed artichoke season on past visits to Rome, we were finally here at the right time of the year. We came down to this cozy place (Via del Leone 4, 683-2100) for a taste without having to head all the way down to the Jewish Ghetto. We kicked off the meal with a couple of pasta dishes, including the obligatory Roman bucatini all'amatriciana, whose thick noodles were pleasantly firm (a welcome relief from that tourist trap earlier today), as well as the truffle-laden tagliolini above, the latter of which was surprisingly affordable at only €15 (US$20).
Next came the artichokes that we were really after. We got both the Roman and Jewish versions, the first of which had this tremendously long stem that was braised into such a delicate state that it was a delight to divide up and consume. A couple of the leaves on the outside were still a bit tough, but this was good enough to devour quickly, despite it being a bit loaded up on olive oil and salt.
Actually, what was probably more oily and salty was the Jewish alla giudia version, which was smashed flat and deep fried. The resulting crispy leaves tasted a bit like potato chips, all while still carrying a bit of that natural sweet artichoke aftertaste. But the heart was a bit too firm to really enjoy - thus being the exact opposite of the Roman version. This was definitely the more unique version out of the two, especially given how it looked like something out of Aliens.