Growing up with three siblings spanning eight years, it wasn’t always easy to take family vacations. At any given moment, my siblings and I could be in different schools with different schedules and different obligations. However, in the winter of 2010, the stars aligned, and all six of us had time off. Determined to make the most of the opportunity, we set our sights on Rome.
Because it was the first time in the city for all of us, we spent all eight days in Rome filling our time with as much activity as possible. We visited breathtaking ancient historical sights and scoured the depths of every museum. We got lost in narrow streets and walked aimlessly for hours on end. Most importantly though, we ate.
Since I was a toddler, I have been notorious for my affinity for pasta. Some who’ve known me long enough still call me “Colettey Spaghetti.” As I’ve grown, I’ve also developed a love for red wine. As you can imagine, my week in Rome was a near religious experience, as I spent eight straight days eating my favorite food in every possible iteration and drinking bottles of wine with my five favorite people in this universe. However, it wasn’t until Christmas night when I realized how truly special the trip was.
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Although we’re Jewish, my family has always celebrated Christmas in a very specific way. For fifteen years we have spent Christmas Eve eating Peking duck in Chinatown and Christmas day at a more typical holiday celebration with some of our oldest friends. Because that year we’d be skipping out on tradition, and because we were in such an amazing city, my mom made sure we’d find somewhere equally wonderful for Christmas dinner. That’s how we found Antica Pesa.
Tucked away on a cobblestone street in Trastevere, Antica Pesa is as authentic and traditional as an Italian restaurant can get. It’s famous not only for the delicious food – which we enjoyed in the form of an exceptional five course meal – but also for its wine cellar. When my mom requested a “really great red,” the waiter brought us a 2006 Ornellaia ‘Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia’ Bolgheri Rosso. A Tuscan red blend, the bottle is composed mostly of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although my mother and I usually gravitate towards very dry Cabernets, we agreed this particular bottle was delicious. Everyone poured a glass, despite the fact that only half of our clan typically enjoys wine.
Something amazing happened as we all sipped our wine, enjoying our sumptuous meal. My mother, who typically allows her brood of talkative children to dictate the conversation, told us all the stories about our family we had never heard. We learned about grandparents and great-grandparents we never had the chance to meet. She painted a picture of the life she had before we were her life. It was mesmerizing. My dad, who is our more traditional narrator, sat quietly and listened lovingly as she talked. This night remains my favorite meal I’ve been blessed to share with my family, and I insisted we order a few bottles of the Ornellaia ‘Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia’ Bolgheri Rosso to bring home.
Last year, we ate at Antica Pesa’s more recent outpost in Williamsburg. Although I wasn’t able to find that same bottle on the menu, we still found a really great red. As I quietly ate my pasta, I was reminded of that special night in my favorite city, drinking an excellent bottle of wine with my family.