After being sheltered inside the four corners of my home with my family for 75 days because of the covid-19 pandemic, it felt very strange to step out on the streets again trying to regain the freedom we once had. In Italy, the phase two regulations of the coronavirus emergency were implemented on the 18th of May after the complete national lockdown last 9 March when the whole country was ordered to stay home and close all unnecessary business activities. The second phase that the country is entering was engineered with a set of general and specific rules mapped out by a group of expert advisers of the government on how we can live and slowly function with the virus still present around us while we wait for the vaccine to arrive. Our health has been prioritized by the government when the pandemic started but after two and half months of standstill, the economic aspect needs desperate resuscitation. Thus, we enter phase two, a well-adapted program towards the new normality which includes the opening of the restaurants.
The new normality is far from how life was before the virus. The rules imposed by the government are stringent and extremely difficult for the restaurants to follow. Some of the new rules include the reduced capacity of clients for the required 4-square meter space allotted per client and 2-meter distancing of the tables. Family members living together in one house can stay together in one table with the declaration of the relationship while the rest have to stay in separate tables. Menus have to be digitally presented, written on boards on the wall, or printed on paper that cannot be reused anymore. Sanitation of surfaces is rigorously required which includes salt, pepper and oil dispensers, better if they are for single use. Then there’s the use of natural air flow and ventilation of the place and prioritizing the outdoor spaces more than the inside. Masks are required at all times as it is everywhere in the country.
During the lockdown, I already had a mental list of the things that my family and I needed as soon as the shops open and lunch in a restaurant was not among them. Being a writer about restaurants and being used to dining out almost everyday, it’s a considerable change of daily routine for me. But with the sun shining so brightly and the blue sky so inviting, it was nature beckoning me to head towards the direction of the beach and bask under the sun. After serious rumination about the possibility of a family lunch on the beach, we decided to go for it with caution. Our choice was one of the restaurants we used to frequent, La Scialuppa Da Salvatore located in Fregene, a beach town just a few kilometers from where we live. It has a big open outdoor space and the tables are right on the sand and on a wooden platform with table umbrellas protecting us from the sun. It was the right ambience that we needed to reconnect again with life outside our confined space.
Dressing up and preparing to go out for lunch as a family felt strange yet familiar. Our personal masks, gloves and sanitizers had the precedence over everything now. It has just been two and half months but when you get used to staying indoors and avoiding contact with the outside world, it becomes unexpectedly odd to go out again for pleasure. Knowing that the virus is still circulating, there’s the unusual mixture of reluctance, uneasiness, worry, fear, excitement and happiness happening all at the same time.
Booked in advance, we arrived at the restaurant with our masks on. A dispenser of hand sanitizer was placed before the entrance as we were required to use it. Everyone inside was wearing a mask as well. Our temperatures were checked and when we didn’t show any signs of fever, we were then escorted to our table outside. Our table was sprayed with sanitizer which was already for the second time as we were informed. Placemats, glasses, freshly-washed and ironed cloth table napkins, and individually-packed sterilized utensils were set on the table before we sat down. Once seated, our waiter gave us forms each which we had to fill up and declare our kinship. The menu, as explained to us is digital. There’s a QR code that we scan with our phones to access the menu. Visibly less in number this time, the tables are positioned far apart from each other. For a weekday lunch on the second day of the lifting of the lockdown, there was quite a good number of occupancy. While going around working, the waiters were always wearing their masks, while we also did when they come to our table to speak with us.
The food was as excellent as I remember it to be. Fabio Di Vilio is one of Rome’s known chefs who knows how to handle seafood in his kitchen. A young man who studied to be an engineer made the unexpected turn by changing the course of his life a few years ago towards the culinary world. Creative with his dynamic and curious approach to cooking, he never lacked ideas in whipping up new dishes with flavors that stir the palate. In the menu, he presents some of his interesting original creations as well as some traditional seafood dishes. Faced with the current situation, Fabio continues to cook and adapts his kitchen and the services of the restaurant. From the total lockdown to delivery, takeaway and finally, opening of the restaurant with a multitude of rules.
The menu has a good representation of classic and creative dishes divided into appetizers (€13 to €18), first courses of pasta and risotto (€13 to €20), main courses (€20 to €22) or priced by weight , and desserts (€5 to €7). Most of the entries can be ordered for delivery or takeaway, a service that the restaurant will continue to do in the future.
Our dining experience at La Scialuppa Da Salvatore was something worth relishing and recounting. Seeing that the restaurant has put a gargantuan effort in putting up a system in ensuring the safety of the health of its clients, the feeling of uncertainty was appeased with the certitude of guiding the clients to a pleasant post-lockdown dining reality. It’s not easy for both parties, clients and restaurant, to find a way to live through the evasion of the virus’ clutches. We cannot deny the fear that’s hanging on our heads but we also have to continue living using extreme caution following the guidelines given to us by the medical experts. If we keep our masks on, sanitize our hands continuously and keep our distances from each other then we can already assure ourselves that we can still be safe as we carry on where we left off 75 days ago.
La Scialuppa Da Salvatore
Via Silvi Marina, 69
00054 Fregene (RM), Italy
Tel: +39 06 66560002
Open daily for lunch and dinner
Offers takeaway and delivery