There's this little place in Prati called Tavernella. It's a little family-run trattoria, where the boss of the place is Louisa, her husband runs the kitchen, and a fat, mafioso-looking waiter named Italo stands in the corner and looks suspiciously around. And everything, I mean everything, that ends up on your table is delicious. The only thing is that you aren't always the one to decide what ends up on your table. They have a nice long menu, full of mouth watering options, which you could very well manage to enjoy if you eat lunch at noon and dinner at six. But if you happen to show up there during the regular lunch or dinner rush, you're eating what they tell you to. Period. What's on the stove is what's on the menu.
Luisa, her husband, and Italo
(photos courtesy of easytogorome.com)
If you want any special orders, you're likely to wait up to an hour. I've done it, it's not worth it - it's much smarter and more delicious to eat whatever they tell you is already cooking. The other thing about Tavernella is that the portions are huge. Eyeballing the average plate of pasta, I'd guess it was almost half a kilo, between pasta and sauce. That's almost a pound. A pound of pasta. Per person. For about seven euro. And it's the sort of restaurant where you can get up to get your own refill if the wine at your table runs out. In fact, one time Luisa actually yelled at us for not doing so. "I'm a-busy here! a-getta your own wine!" It's more like having lunch at a friend's house than in a restaurant. So luckily for me, one of the restaurant favorites is Gnocchi Gorgonzola, which they almost always have a pot of, bubbling away on the stove, so I never have to wait. It's hot, creamy, gorgonzola-y, but not too strong, and before you know it, you'll be half way done and already bursting at the seams. But it is so worth it.
Since I moved out of Prati, I haven't been back to Tavernella, but I when I saw fresh gnocchi and gorgonzola on the same shelf in the supermarket yesterday, I knew I had to try to make it.
I started with a mix of gorgonzola and mascarpone - a classic Italian way to soften up gorgonzola's sharp edge, they often come packaged together - and about 300 g of fresh potato gnocchi (I strongly urge you to not use frozen gnocchi - they don't defrost very well), or around 150 g of gnocchi per person (300 g left me with leftovers).
While I put the water on the stove to boil, I threw the gorgonzola and mascarpone with a splash of whole milk (heavy cream would probably be more delicious, but I didn't have any) in a big sauce pan - keep in mind that this sauce pan will have to hold the cooked gnocchi as well - and it melted together beautifully. You might want to open a window though, because gorgonzola steam can smell quite pungent.
Get that cheese sauce all nice and bubbly. But make sure you get it off the flame in time, otherwise it'll dry up.
If the gnocchi are small, it shouldn't take more than three minutes for them to cook. The ones I used were small and round. Some will be bigger and football shaped with little fork marks on the side - those take four to five minutes. Either way, gnocchi are done when they float to the top. Drain them, and add them to the cheese sauce. If the sauce is a little dry, you can add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water (another Italian trick!).
Stir everything around in the pan for a minute or so, over low heat. Those gnocchi are just waiting to absorb all that yummy cheese!
When everything looks nice and mixed together and ready to eat, dish it out and serve immediately. Top with a dash of pepper - I used white here, because it's a little more delicate - and you're done!
I hope yours turn out as delicious as mine were!