Last week’s post was about a friend I met in Rome, which immediately brought back memories of my trip to Italy. It reminded me of a restaurant that was so wonderful, a friend and I visited three times throughout our stay.
The first night in Rome, the hotel recommended the local restaurant i Clementini. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a friendly wait staff and escorted to a back room. We dined on delicious seafood, fresh baked bread, and bottles of wine. The staff spoke some English, and we ended up having a great time getting to know them. They were very attentive and laughed right along with us.
After an hour or so went by, we realized they put us in the same room as all the other English speaking people, actually, most of them were Americans. We had wonderful conversations with them as we all enjoyed our dining experience. Most in the room stayed for hours, enjoying the conversations, food and wine. We left having a memorable first night in Italy.
On our second visit to the restaurant we wondered if they would remember us, and thought probably not since they serve so many people. Well….we got out of the cab and they practically rolled out the red carpet. They greeted us as if we were their best customers, and life long friends. We were seated in a prime spot on the beautiful outdoor patio, and had another amazing night. The owner was very attentive as he flirted with us all night long. The wait staff was the same as our first visit, and we belly-laughed the night away. At one point one of the waiters was laughing so hard he uttered in his broken English “No possible work”, they loved talking with us; it was another spectacular evening in Rome. The owner hugged and kissed us as we parted ways.
Our last and final meal in Rome we knew had to be at i Clementini, after all we were their new favorite Americans……HA. Well, in our own minds we were. The cab pulls up and we exit, expecting another red carpet affair, but were greeted with just the opposite. Everyone acted as if they never laid eyes on us before, and treated us with little regard. We were taken back, as one of the same waiters sat us on the patio, but this time far from the entrance.
He was cordial, but short with us as we ordered a bottle of wine. Throughout the evening the same three familiar waiters did their job, but didn’t go out of their way to give us the same level of hospitality as the two earlier visits, and took no time to laugh with us. We were so confused, especially when the owner stayed clear of our table…..HUH?
During the last half of the meal, we asked one of the waiters what was wrong. Looking around to see if anyone was watching, in his broken English explained their jobs were all on the line that evening, because of us. WHAT? Seriously? What we didn’t know was the owner and resident flirt was married, and is wife had been watching him during our previous trips. She forbid her husband to speak to us, and warned the staff as well. We were sad hearing the news, since we meant no harm, and had no idea the owner was married.
The three waiters ended up telling us more throughout the evening, but were afraid of losing their jobs. One man actually quietly teased about coming with us to America. My friend and I were sad to be the cause of their unhappiness and fear. We quietly left that evening letting those three waiters know how much fun we had under their care during our stay, and wished them well.
If ever in Rome again, I will go back to i Clementini for a delicious meal and beautiful Italian atmosphere. I’ll watch my Ps and Qs if the owner is flirtacious. As the saying goes….when in Rome….this time I’ll be on my best behavior. Ciao