It’s that time of year when food writers look back on their dining experiences of the previous twelve months. I’ve done a bit of eating in 2011, both at home in Rome and abroad, and I’ve narrowed down my top dishes and meals, which I’ll publish later this week. But for now, I want to single out one of my favorite places in Rome: Mesob. I have reviewed this Ethiopian restaurant in the past and it remains, without a doubt, one of the most consistently amazing eateries in the city. And as if the food isn’t enough to draw you in, one can eat very very well for under €15.
You can get the Roman classics just about anywhere in town and, of course, visitors to Rome should seek out the basics of the local culinary cannon. But Rome isn’t just about carbonara and coda alla vaccinara. There are other cuisines to be had, just not all of them live up to their potential. Perfectly seasoned, thoughtfully prepared, and authentic Ethiopian food is extremely hard to come by. It’s not that there aren’t lots of places serving Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine–there are actually quite a few. But most of them cater to the local palate, which means flavor and spice goes right out the window.
At Mesob, owner Kuki Tadese prepares family recipes that are richly spiced and full of flavor. She excels at vegetarian dishes and serves braised vegetables, lentils, split peas and bitter greens that are simmered and stewed to perfection. Among the meat dishes, doro wat (chicken with onions, ginger and spices) and kay tibs (beef with spicy peppers) are standouts. Diners share dishes, which are distributed atop sheets of injera. The service is excruciatingly slow because Kuki is in the kitchen doing almost everything alone. Everyone that has ever joined me for a meal at Mesob has agreed, it was worth the wait.
Via Prenestina 118 – Roma