Tartufo is a dreamy and delicious Italian dessert made up of ice cream coated in chocolate. There are many interpretations of this dessert, and at this point, I havenâ€™t the foggiest idea what would constitute a brilliant tartufo. However, my wifeâ€™s relatives in Rome suggested that if we were seeking an audience with the â€œUltimate Tartufo,â€ we needed to head to Piazza Navona, a short walk from Campo di Fiori, and secure a sidewalk table at Tre Scalini. My wifeâ€™s auntâ€™s late husband was very good friends with the owners of Tre Scalini and apparently anyone in the know knew that this was the place to get a serious Tartufo fix in Rome. From what I gather, the variations on tartufo include some mixture of good creamy vanilla ice cream, some chocolate ice cream and a chocolate shell of some sort (liquor is somethimes mentioned, cherry or fruit/chocolates, nuts, etc. are also variations on the original)â€¦the idea is for the dessert to visually approximate a real tartufo or truffle and the taste experience is supposed to be as special as that of eating some real truffles. We made plans to go to Tre Scalini on several evenings with the Roman connections but they all fell through for one reason or another. So one day we headed over to Piazza navona on our own after visiting the Campo di Fiori market to try and taste this â€œstunning dessertâ€¦â€
As soon as we got to Piazza Navona, we were faced with perhaps 4 cafes with similar namesâ€¦ like Bucatini, Spezzini, Scalini and Headachalini and of course, we forgot which one was the “real” McCoy. We took a wild guess and sat down at one of the better looking cafes under a nice umbrella blocking the sweltering sun, but it wasn’t the right cafe though they served dessert as well. My wife and the Kid ordered a tartufo each and I went to find their washroom. A few minutes later, these two spectacular plates with these wonderful looking confections were delivered with fanfare. I took one look and knew we were about to get royally fleeced. Thank goodness the tartufi were superb and utterly delicious, but the worst was yet to comeâ€¦ I asked for the bill and the total for two ice creams, 3 seats for 15 minutes, urinal use and a view of the square with pooping pigeons was a whopping Euro28 or USD37 or PHP2,000!!! I just wanted to reach up and strangle a waiter! They had â€œgotcha!!!â€ written all over their smug mugs. Though my wife and daughter thought these tartufi were excellent, I am almost certain they weren’t worth the exhorbitant prices chargedâ€¦ At least you are all forewarned and unless you have money burning in your pockets, try this much ballyhooed dessert in less expensive surroundings! I was so put out by the tartufo incident that for the rest of the trip, it became my currency of choice…”oh my gosh, that shoe is one tartufo!” or “let’s bring home 2 tartufi worth of olive oil”, or “you think our overweight charges will exceed 12 tartufi???”….heeheehee.