At the door, a man — wielding a large knife — slicing, always slicing. You walk in. Pause. A single question. In Italian at first — then English, if you, like I, seem a little puzzled. But you needn’t be. There are only two options. This blunt simplicity has a weird way of translating the Italian in your brain after the fact. “Oh, of course that’s what he said,” you think.
Porchetta on a plate, or porchetta on a roll?
Then — red or white? “I really do know Italian!” you think. Again, two options. “No, thanks.” is not one of them.
You sit, and the man brings you the porchetta and wine. You pay him, improbably little. He returns to slicing. You’re full, but you ask for more.
“Just on the plate, this time.”
The signs say dal 1890. That’s 125 years ago. 45,655 days. Alessandro Fioravanti is the man’s name now, but before him was a man with another name. Five generations of family. Stuffing, roasting, slicing, serving porchetta. Day after day.
The place is called Er Buchetto.
To describe it as a hole-in-the-wall is apt in the physical (and indeed, literal) sense — it’s tiny, easy to miss — but that completely discounts how large a place it occupies in the memories of those fortunate enough to stumble inside thanks to some magical combination of word-of-mouth, happenstance, and the delirious hunger of exhaustion from a day exposed to the Mediterranean sun amidst the ruins of the Forum.
Its name appears in poetry, in song, in weathered travel journals from your grandmother’s first visit to Rome as a young girl, in dreams.
Simple, small, slow.
An alluring alternative approach to what we call “success.”