Deep in the Trader Joe’s freezer section, between the vegetarian gyoza and marinated Mahi, you will find gnocchi alla sorrentina.
When I was 22, the ink still drying on my bachelors degree, I moved to a new city and into a one bedroom apartment. All by myself, for the first time ever.
Frozen gnocchi alla sorrentina became my comfort and my crutch.
I think I gained 20 lbs in the first 5 months.
So, I obviously had a taste for rubbery reheated gnocchi when I moved to Rome, and rubbery reheated gnocchi is exactly what I found.
I looked forward to Thursdays – Gnocchi Giovedi. And the gnocchi I found on Thursdays, advertised on blackboards around the city, was fine. Fine, not great. (Except for the gnocchi at Baffetto Due. That was inedible).
With my gnocchi radar engaged, when I came across L’Arcangelo on Parla Food in 2010, it instantly went on the To Eat list.
An opportunity finally presented itself when planning where to get a low key anniversary dinner. I opened Katie’s app.
“Oops!” I cried, tapping the phone number. “It’s ringing!” 2 people. 8:30. Thursday. Natalina.
Jimmy (the Irishman has given me permission to use his real name) humors me. He humors me when I “accidentally” make reservations and he humors me when I suggest we walk from Testaccio to Prati.
Finally settled into our seats, celebratory prosecco popped, we passed on the 13 euro (!) supplì and enjoyed the complementary cacio e pepe polenta instead.
Gnocchi di patate all’amatriciana me. Rigatoni all’amatriciana for him.
Poor Jimmy’s dish was a bit dry, but my gnoccho was perfect. The guanciale crisped, the pecorino liberally dusted, the gnocchi both fluffy and toothsome. I inhaled it and then lingered over bollecine and reminisces.
Some day, if I live in the US again, I will probably buy Trader Joe’s frozen gnocchi alla sorrentina once more. I will be harried and harassed and short on time. And even though it’s not very good, I will enjoy it because it will remind me of being 22 and thinking I knew everything.
But for now, in Rome, I will take advantage of L’Arcangelo.
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