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A Review of La Parolaccia Restaurant - Roma
There is a restaurant in Rome that people in Rome fear. Yes, the locals stay well clear of it. Some few brave souls venture within, only to leave ten minutes later their faces red and sweaty, covering their children's ears with their hands, their eyes downcast and humbled. The typical Trastevere side-street that leads up to it, ominously empty. Even the golden street lights seem to shy clear of it.
Forget the Violioncelli
This restaurant is La Parolaccia. Quite simply, "the swear word". Of all the restaurants I've been to in Rome, this place will forever shine as the most unique and eye opening experience that one can have in a restaurant. The food? Roman menus, fixed prices and meals. But who cares? It never was, and never will be about the food. The waiters are actors, their sole purpose in life is to offend you. If all this doesn't make sense, hold on because it only gets worse.
La Parolaccia has been around for 20 years or so. The place made famous by various films, such as "Fracchia La belva umana" (a well known film in Italy!). It sits arrogantly within the cosmos of glittering lights of Trastevere like a black hole. It certainly looks like a restaurant. One of many in the area. Small, dark, a comfy feeling that feels distinctly European. The charade ends as you open the door.
As a warning, to those crazy enough to go there. Dinner starts at 8.30pm. Not before, nor after. If you're late, stay that way. You're going to be ushered in and forcibly separated from your friends. Tables are for 6, no exceptions.
What to Expect
The dinner is thrown at you. Literally. You will be insulted from start to finish. Once again there an no exceptions. If you want to impress your friends by "counter-attacking" be advised that these people have 20 years of insult experience. There are no holes in their defenses. They will obliterate you in seconds. Their one-liners are the fabric of legend. This is their job, they have every angle covered. If you stand up and make for the exit, cursing and yelling at the illegality and injustice of the treatment, you will be trailed by a cloud of laughter and applause all the way to your car. Even the police are laughing at you.
My personal, tragic, experience
My personal experience was not a happy one. Although it had its moments. I recall an oblivious scandinavian pair entering the lair of the beast. Obviously father and son, they politely made their way to the counter. What struck me most, was the incredible, overwhelming and tangible silence that greeted their late entry. The waiters froze, the people stopped eating. The only noise the creak of the door slamming shut like a tomb.
"Ma che, siete Gay?"
The father looked a little startled at that. Shaking his head emphatically, laying an arm around his son's shoulder protectively.
Soon the rest of the waiters joined in and the songs began. All the while the rather unassuming Scandinavian family stood transfixed, like a couple of hypnotized cobras. Needless to say it did not end well. Their departure met with a new song and a fresh round of laughter. Please note that no customers had the balls to laugh. We knew what would happen if we did. Like prisoners in a Gulag, we ate in silence, our eyes downcast.
While I don't really think anyone had that much fun. You wear the experience like a symbol of pride. It is a tale to recount and a testimony to your courage. In a way, it remains a very typical Roman experience. One that does not reflect the Rome of today, but it is a taste of the spirit of Trastevere as it once was. Not the rich tourist district. But the old popular slum that it was.
I recommend the experience. If only because you'll never forget it. For good or for ill.