Posted by: lisetta | February 24, 2010

Requiem per un carciofo

Fresh with the memories of all the fabulous artichokes I ate on my recent trip to Italy, I thought I’d order them tonight at Marc Vetri’s new restaurant, Amis. Billed as a Roman trattoria serving simple (and unpretentious) foods, I assumed I’d discover a taste of Italy right here in Philadelphia. I was wrong. Very wrong. Duped by the marketing hype, I guess. I’m fuming from the horrible experience we had there.

What arrived on our table were two smallish artichokes whose hearts had drowned in oil and whose ‘leaves’ had crisped to a deep brown. Gone were the artichoke’s complex flavors and slight sweetness I’ve grown to love. Instead remained only the familiar numb of the deep fryer. Too bad. The chefs at Amis have killed the artichoke, imho. Requiem aeternum …

I need to channel a higher power. In college, my choir performed Fauré’s Requiem. Angela Raymond’s Pie Jesu rang through the chapel and into our souls, bringing most of the choir to tears behind her. To this day, her performance resonates as one of the most memorable musical moments I’ve ever experienced. If you don’t know the song, listen to Rosa Elvira Sierra’s rendition:

I’ll try write a more balanced review of our restaurant experience tomorrow night, when I’ve got a post-Spin endorphin high. It’s the only way I can be fair to all of the people who work so hard to create something special.



  1. I understand what your disappointment with the artichokes. I am writing to let you know that it can happen even in Italy, even in Rome, where it is a typical dish.

    Romans use to cook it in a delicious way, but if you happen in a wrong restaurant (unfortunately those who attract tourists. The one I am talking about is close to Fontana di Trevi) the waiter will bring you a terrible artichoke, with hard leaves and vinegar taste.

    Fortunately the good ones are the majority and its goodness continues to be preserved. 🙂


  2. Thanks, Ana. I was a bit melodramatic, surely. 🙂 I really admire the corporation who owns the restaurant, and think they do a great job of bringing elements of Italian food culture to Philadelphia, but was über annoyed that we had spent $10 for two over-fried artichokes. The recipe, carciofi alla guidaia, *is* for fried artichokes, but they just didn’t get it right. If it had only been that dish that was off, I’d have been more forgiving, but only 1 of the 6 dishes we tried was worthwhile. Perhaps I could have chosen to write an ode to the pear tart for my blog entry? I’m generally fairly positive about Italian food!

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