One of traditional decorating elements in Roman trattorias (besides the red and white checked tablecloths, uncomfortable chairs and over bright lighting) are framed photographs of "celebrity" clients. These can often date back decades and whether or not you recognize the face in the frame, it's kind of fun to see the pride that some of these restaurants display in the fact that a B level soccer player or a politician from a long-failed government stopped by in 1978, funky side burns and all.
Here in Rome, our local is no different. Taverna dei Fori Imperiali gladly started framing snapshots of "famous" clients from the get go. There's the American astronaut. And the quarterback from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photos that took obscure noteriety, at least to many of the regulars, to new levels.
Until all of the sudden I spotted a framed signed photo of artist Julian Schnabel. Well, that's kind of random, I thought. And before I knew it, the wall of fame included Dustin Hoffman, Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Soon enough Sam Waterson, David Caruso and Clive Owen joined the wall of fame.
Why all the big names in this small place? Part of it has to do with Julian Schnabel telling Pacino and DiNiro that they should have dinner there. The rest? Ron Howard was renting an apartment down the street while filming Angels and Demons. A predictably forlorn-looking Woody Allen shot a few scenes from To Rome With Love in the neighborhood.
But don't worry, the place has not been overrun by glitz and glam. This is still a place where locals head for a plate of pasta. And if you'd like, I'm sure if you took a photo of yourself, signed it and sent it to Alessio and his family, they'd be very happy to hang it on the wall, tucked right between the astronaut and the quarterback.
Taverna dei Fori Imperiali: Via Madonna dei Monti 9; +39.06.679.8643, latavernadeiforiimperiali.com.