By Ayfer Simms
What happens when you are about to review a restaurant, and your boss says, “you’ve gotta emphasize the food. This is a food blog”? And then the Boss, let’s call him Ez, comes with you to the gig and brings along Uncle Chris to the worst kept secret of Italian restaurants on the Asian side. They say they’re coming “to check if you’re doing a good job, not cutting corners. You know what I mean?” he says, winking. Because “we are friends”.
There’s no denying I feel a little nervous. Am I going to like the food? And am I going to find good things to say about it? Am I going to survive the meal? Or is my fate already sealed, you know, the last friendly supper before the ocean and the fishes?
Ez is tall and always wears a hat over his thick undulated mane and sports carefully shaped sideburns. He doesn’t look like a boss but, when he blasts his thoughts behind that frosty, serious gaze, you cannot help but shrink. He orders carefully, analyzing numbers on the menu, and taking pictures.
“I am having number 17” says Ez. You see, I cannot reveal the names of the biggest bosses in the food-reviewing world of Istanbul, or I would end up swimming with the fish in the Bosphorus.
My hands are shaking. I order a pizza. No, no. Make it two, I said, sweating. Thin dough. Suitable to everyone’s taste. All five of us will share them. The two other guys each order a main course, too. I remember clearly Ez saying “Meh, it’s alright. Average at best”.
The margherita and the four-cheese pizza were actually subtly tasty in a way that simple, quality ingredients are. The thin dough was the right texture and amount, the cheese was generously thrown on and a smattering of spices and olive oil mixed in with hot pepper was giving it an extra je ne sais quoi. We also ordered an avocado salad, but I actually don’t recall seeing the avocado bits. I tried to convince myself that I did. We were also served some nibbles, dry spicy bread bits to dip in sauces that our Italian friends do so well. I guess I can reveal the place’s identity now.
It’s Trattorio da Rosario, Kosuyolu, Acibadem.
My fate is sealed anyway, hopefully not with cement in my shoes. Ez is watching me. His eyes say, “What sauces are those, kiddo?” I admit I don’t remember. It was rather spicy as I recall. What color? Red? Maybe whitish? Good in any case, since I couldn’t stop dipping.
Is the place small? Big? Crowded? Bella? Sexy, Mafiosi? Is it full of Brandos, Gondolfinis, Pacinos and De Niros? Yes, it is if your eyes are closed and you are a bit of a lunatic dreamer. “The food! for Christ sake” cries Ez. YES. Well I didn’t taste everything, did I?
I saw the faces of my friends eating, I chewed on my pizza and I washed it all down with a wine — an Angora maybe that usually costs 20 TL at Migros and is three times more expensive here. We had made the decision as a group not to get a second bottle; we had plans for afterwards. The waiter cleverly left a spare one next to us and said: “If you decide you want more, just help yourselves”. Thus, the temptation was there, but we skillfully avoided it.
The food was alright. Nothing charming about the setting, as it is quite big and impersonal. I like good, old cheesy Italian decors; it doesn’t have to be a film set for a movie and it doesn’t have to be elaborately designed either. However, what was lacking was…charm and the touch that makes a dish, extraordinary. If you are an average person with safe tastes and don’t give a damn about the cinematographie italien then go there.
Perhaps the kicker that could bring me back was the aperitif afterwards. Free shots of limoncello for all! This was a welcome surprise. In the end, I guess the big boss wasn’t so displeased. His frosty gaze even turned into a warm little smile. I live to food blog another day.