Santa Severa, that beach in Santa Marinella with the castle on its side? It’s a place that you will never forget because the scene that greets you is one of a kind. The long stretch of beach is dominated by the majestic Santa Severa Castle on the promontory. It’s about 50 kilometers from Fiumicino (about 65 from the center of Rome). In summer, the whole beach can get very busy and crowded but on the cooler months with the sun out, you will find a different set of beach enthusiasts all taking advantage of the nice Mediterranean weather. There is almost no structure on the beach except for a sprawling simple white bungalow with some grass behind it and a stone’s throw away from the castle. It’s L’Isola del Pescatore, a popular seafood restaurant in the area.
I’ve heard about how good the food is at L’Isola del Pescatore and how full it can get. There was even an incident of a helicopter that landed close to the beach with the passengers trying to get a table at the restaurant for lunch but were refused because they were completely full. I tried too, randomly, at different times, all the time being told that it’s full even with three different schedules of booking they give for a meal with a gap of one hour from each other. And it was not even summer yet. Too many times disappointed, I booked two weeks ahead and I finally got a table for lunch.
April is still a cold month to take a dip in the water but warm enough to sunbathe. The beach was packed and the restaurant was fully-booked for lunch, for all three time schedules that they have. I booked a table at 12:00 assuming that it is the calmest hour because it is still too early for a regular lunch for Italians. The restaurant is used to a big flow of diners showing an impressive efficiency and speed by the dining room staff. The kitchen equally copes well with the preparation of the food as the food arrives without delay in spite of the big size of the dining area and the large number of diners.
The Food. I often go to restaurants that serve contemporary dishes but sometimes, I get struck with a strong craving for a traditional seafood Italian plate. It’s not too much to ask but lately, it’s harder and harder to get a simply executed traditional Italian plate that boasts of fresh quality ingredients that I can just dress with a good extra virgin olive oil.
The serving quantities of the dishes are abundant, maybe even too much for one portion especially the pasta and the seafood salad. The quality and freshness of the ingredients are imaginably excellent. You can’t think otherwise if you are eating right in front of the sea. The cooking is traditionally Italian and very good. With the right kind of chilled white wine, the whole meal can be exceptional.
For starters, we got a plate of raw white fish (blast chilled of course according to the Italian law to be sure that there is no trace of the parasite anisakis) that was simply drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with crushed pink peppercorns, salt and pieces of fruit. The other plate is a seafood salad with salad greens, cooked barley and a mixture of seafood.
A couple of simple seafood pasta dishes of seafood fettuccine and spaghetti with sea urchin are delicious and abundant. Two people can easily share one pasta dish to be able to arrive to the main course. For the main course, a platter of grilled seafood was in order. After a seafood meal, the best way to conclude it is with something light, fruity and cold. For that, our orders were composed of fresh fruits and gelato in different dessert versions. Simple Italian fare. It’s the best that you can get.
L’Isola del Pescatore continues to be a popular hunt for seafood lovers. The menu has mostly proposals of traditional seafood plates from Appetizers ( €18), Pasta and Risotto (€18 – €22), and the Main Courses (€22 – €25) with the exception of lobster dishes at around €40 each.
L’Isola del Pescatore
Via Cartagine, 1
00058 Santa Severa, Santa Marinella (RM), Italy
Tel: +39 0766570145
Open daily for lunch and dinner in summer (call ahead for booking)