Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Due Cesari, Hotel Marius Et Caesar, Pompeii, Italy

So...I see that this restaurant gets some pretty poor to middlin' reviews on TripAdvisor (after the fact), but Underdog and I found it to be a delightful dining experience.  We stumbled upon it when we drove to Pompeii for the day...or should I say UD drove us to Pompeii for the day.  I feel fairly comfortable stating that, despite the smirk of confidence on the face of my spousal unit, Americans have no business driving in Italy.  I'm not even sure Italians should be doing it. could not have pulled a needle through my sphincter with a pair of surgical pliers during this hour-long brush with death pleasant afternoon drive...not to mention the fact that my fingers were numb from gripping the door handle when we arrived. Vacation is so fun!

When we parked for our tour of Pompeii, we were offered free parking if we dined at the adjacent hotel restaurant with whom the parking attendant seemed to have a familial relationship of some sort with.  The place looked nice and we were hungry and already running way behind on our three-bottles-of-Prosecco minimum daily vaca requirement, so it sounded like a win-win sitch.

It was an unusually mild and beautiful day for late November, so we opted to dine outdoors under a charming lattice roof supporting the leafy branches of a giant tree...which felt pleasantly like being in a shady tree house (only closer to the ground, which is always good for us height-fearers).  Our server, Claudio, was amazing and had our vaca prescription dose of Prosecco uncorked and administered posthaste (thank you, doctor!).

Since the menu is not posted online and I have the memory of a cucumber, I'll recount our experience to the best of my ability (it has been a full five days, after all!).  We started with one of those cured meaty and buffalo mozzarella cheesy platters that invariably ratchets up my beloved's heart rate, and this one did not fail to meet our expectations. I love grilled eggplant and gave the plate extra credit for that.  Beautiful!

I've developed a soft spot (or multiple soft spots...mainly in my butt cheeks, muffin top, thighs and belly) for a pasta preparation with peas, ham, cream sauce, cheese and my beloved funghi.  As luck would have it, a little penne-type offering fit the bill perfectly.

UD chose this opportunity to shame me by ordering a healthy offering of simple grilled swordfish.  He said he chose it because he loves swordfish (and not out of any attempt to hint that perhaps I, too, should dial down the carbo-loading before I started to look like a 21st Century Rubens muse).  

That's okay...I'll feign daintiness and let you snarf Satan's Own Chocolate Wedge of Sin on your own. *Adjusts halo*

And maybe even have you take my pic with the handsome Claudio.
Onward to Pompeii to explore and work off this feast.  What a fascinating tour we received, thanks to our expert guide Vincenzo Caporaso. You really need an experienced guide if you hope to get the most out of a visit to this ancient city and he is worth every penny. Contact him at  Thanks so much, Vincenzo!
Underdog and I played around a bit in the ruins....
...and made fun of the fact that the brothels had beds of stone, probably so no one got too comfy and stuck around for a nap afterwards (Ummm....I don't care how much you're paying me, I need a Sealy).  
Which is pretty much why we're going straight to hell in a handbasket.  Seriously, the fact that this city was destroyed in 79 AD by a volcanic eruption, along with many of its inhabitants, will give you plenty of food for thought and tears as you explore the ruins. Clearly, not everyone has had a good day here.
Another heartbreaking aspect are the "Dogs of Pompeii".  These scruffy, lovable, sometimes sick and always hungry denizens of the ruins will tug at the heartstrings of any dog lover.  We shared a a gelato with one who reminds us of our own "Hero".
Such a fascinating, emotion-filled day...and one that will never be forgotten.

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