It was an Italian-themed afternoon and evening. I was meeting my friend Annette at the National Gallery to see their new major exhibition – Michelangelo & Sebastiano, which explores the friendship and later rivalry of the two artists.
Annette isn’t Italian but we did meet through the London Italian Language Meetup Group. I’d like to tell you we practised our Italian but have to confess we didn’t. We did however very much enjoy this exhibition of two famous Italian artists. Our viewing was interrupted for a time by a minor drama when an alarm went off in the gallery. Nearby security people looked baffled and we all stood for a minute or so, wondering what to do, before a loudspeaker announcement told us a fire had been detected in the gallery and it was being evacuated. We were guided out and everyone moved in an orderly fashion; there was no panic. I couldn’t help hoping though that we didn’t suddenly come face to face with fire. We didn’t. It was over half an hour before we were let back in. No one seemed to know whether or not there had been a fire.
When we emerged from the gallery at 6.00pm, we headed to the nearby Rosetta restaurant/café in William IV Street, which cuts across a corner from St Martin’s Lane to the Strand, and is thus very close to the gallery and Trafalgar Square.
Going to Rosetta had been Annette’s suggestion as she’d heard good things about it from a friend. Rosetta is more of a café-deli than a restaurant and is only open until 7.30pm, so not a place to head to for an evening meal. The decor is more café-like too; wooden floor, simple furniture but attractive and cosy.
The idea behind Rosetta is to offer Italian agri-cultural food – much of the produce comes from their farm in the Piacenza region of Italy: top quality cold meats and cheeses, organic fruit juices. Their wines come from small Italian producers and are specially chosen.
There are home-cooked hot dishes and desserts.
It’s a great place for an early evening supper either post-gallery, as we did, or pre-theatre. They actually close at 6.30 on Monday but there was no sense of hurrying us as we arrived at 6.00, nor as we passed the 6.30 mark. In fact we were in there until just gone 7 – as were a handful of others, including (good sign!) some Italians – and everything about the two guys in the café was friendly and helpful. It was so cold and blustery outside we both chose hot dishes. Annette chose a Melanzane Parmigiana and I had a vegetable lasagna.
I have to say they were served in a rather ‘rustic’ way; no carefully cut slices laid on the plates. But the important thing was the food was absolutely delicious and we enjoyed it. We both wanted a glass of red wine and the waiter was really helpful, suggesting a couple and telling us the difference. It was done in a nice way; no sommelier pomp. And the wine when it came was excellent.
We were by this time past the 6.30 ‘closing time’ but the waiter came and offered us the dessert menu – so how could we refuse. Especially since Annette had spied some gorgeous looking tiramisu on the way in. The waiter told us they were the best, so we ordered them and espressos.
The tiramisu was as gorgeous as it looked and the coffee very good too. We paid (£43 for the 2 of us before tip) and set off home. It had been a perfect, simple early evening supper. I’m sure I’ll be back and it’s great to now know it’s there in an area of London I visit a lot. During the day there’s a good choice of panini and soups as well as the hot dishes; or it’s a great place for morning coffee with perhaps some of their home-made cake. Every Thursday from 5.00pm they serve a traditional Italian aperitivo: a buffet of meats, cheeses, pickles, focaccia, polenta, and filled rolls, which are free – all you have to do is buy your drink, perhaps a typical Italian aperitif of Aperol or Campari spritz, Italian wine or beer. Sounds like a good plan! To find out more or book, visit their website.