As I stroll through the cobblestone streets of Rome, I can’t help but be entranced by the city’s rich history, vibrant culture and architectural splendor. Amidst the ancient ruins and historic gems, my heart and stomach are equally captivated by a culinary adventure as unforgettable as the city itself.
Roman cuisine is characterized by its use of simple and seasonal high-quality produce. The city’s fine dining establishments weave a tapestry of culture, history, and tradition into every meal. Each dish is a symphony of flavors; each restaurant an entryway to the richly flavored heritage of Italy.
Amongst the variety of Roman restaurants, guests can find everything from famous recipes handed down through generations to avant-garde creations pushing the boundaries of Italian cuisine.
These experiences come with a corresponding luxury price tag, but at these restaurants, it’s worth every euro.
Glass Hostaria, in the heart of Trastevere, is known for its innovative approach to Italian cuisine.
The Trastevere (“beyond the Tiber”) neighborhood is renowned for its picturesque vicolos, historic significance, and vibrant atmosphere. Vicolo is the Italian word for ‘alley’ or ‘narrow street’, and they are an integral part of Rome’s urban layout.
These charming cobblestone paths lined with medieval architecture contribute to the unique atmosphere of Rome. The lack of major tourist attractions gives this neighborhood a more laid-back, authentic feel. In terms of nightlife, it is favored by both locals and tourists alike.
As I step inside Glass Hostaria, I’m meeting an atmosphere of pure sophistication. The use of glass and modern décor enhances the ambiance.
Tasting menus (vegetarian option) feature seasonal and locally sourced ingredients presented in small artful dishes that are so visually stunning you almost feel guilty eating them… almost.
Background music that accompanies the tasting of each dish adds to the special experience: a subtle, sophisticated instrumental jazz during the main courses while soft vocals during dessert completed the experience on a delightful note. Ambient acoustic sounds throughout added a soothing backdrop that didn’t distract from the exquisite flavors of the dishes.
The Parmigiano Reggiano aged 60 months ravioli with mushrooms is full of deep, rich, intense flavors. The herby, robust, savory taste of mushrooms delightfully contrasts the richness of the Parmigiano Reggiano. The filling is creamy and indulgent, offering a velvety, nutty, slightly crystalline texture that melts in the mouth. The dish celebrates the depth and complexity of the aged Parmigiano Reggiano and the earthy essence of the mushrooms.
The Plin pasta amatriciana is also worthy of praise. A marriage between Lazio and Piedmont and a tribute to the great tradition of Italian pasta, the small, hand-pinched stuffed Plin pasta is filled with a rich, indulgent amatriciana.
Amatriciana is a classic Roman sauce made with tomatoes, guanciale (cured pork jowl), Pecorino Romano, and hot pepper. It offers a harmonious blend of umami from the guanciale, sweetness from the tomatoes, and a hint of spice.
The combination of the Plin pasta, with its tender and crisped-to-perfection guanciale filled pockets, paired with the rich tomatoes and Pecorino is a decadent and satisfying experience for the palate. The dish brings together the comforting and indulgent flavors of Italian tradition in the most sophisticated and delicious way.
The wine pairing (50 euros per person) is expertly chosen and offers many Italian varieties. We particularly enjoyed the pairing of a vintage Barbaresco Rizzi from Piedmont with the pasta. The earthy, floral, and fruity elements of the wine perfectly complemented the spices and textures of the pasta. Throughout the evening, the service was nothing short of exemplary.
The knowledgeable staff guided us through the menu and shared the story behind each dish. There is a clear emphasis on the quality of the ingredients, intricate preparation, and precise flavor balance. The Chef, Cristina Bowerman, came out to talk with us about the food and share her thought process.
Address: Vicolo del Cinque, 58
Under 25 get a 25% discount every third Thursday of the month.
You can also enjoy one of Chef Cristina’s tasting menus at home for €90. https://www.glasshostaria.it/en/delivery/
Next we went to Imàgo, situated atop the prestigious Hassler Hotel overlooking the Spanish Steps.
The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unobstructed vista of some of Rome’s iconic landmarks. Sunset hour is magical. It looked like a postcard. The interior design is equally captivating and the atmosphere is intimate. Formal dining policy requires gentlemen to wear a jacket and trousers (tie not required).
The menu is a carefully curated selection of Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Executive Chef Andrea Antonini knows how to combine raw materials in an excellent way, striking the ideal balance between subtlety and indulgence. With so many extraordinary flavors and techniques, each course is more and more delightful.
There is also a special white truffle menu. Each course is adorned with fresh truffle shavings from your own personal truffle.
I’m a big fan of zabaione, so the potato spaghetti with marsala zabaione was an obvious choice. It was heavenly. Zabaione is a decadent Italian custard-like dessert made with egg yolk, sugar, and a sweet wine, such as Marsala.
The Marsala zabaione offers a harmonious balance of sweetness from the wine, richness from the egg yolk, and a slightly aromatic and nuanced taste from the Marsala.
The potato spaghetti has a delicate starchiness that’s different from traditional pasta. The dish juxtaposes textures and flavors with the delicate and neutral taste of the potato spaghetti coated in the rich, velvety Marsala zabaione.
The rose whipped cream and wild strawberries dessert was also a favorite. The rose-infused whipped cream (presented in the shape of a rose) has a delicate floral aroma. The texture is light and airy with a silky, smooth consistency. The rose essence provides a subtle, fragrant note, adding a refined and elegant touch to the dish.
Wild strawberries are far more tasty than their cultivated counterparts. They add a vibrant sweetness with a hint of tartness, providing a burst of fresh, juicy, and tangy flavors. Some firm and slightly crunchy, others tender and juicy, contributing to a delightful mouthfeel.
Address: Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6
Imàgo is open for dinner. Make a reservation online:
Aroma, perched atop the Palazzo Manfredi Hotel, is the essence of fine dining with an unbelievable view.
The evening began with a stroll through the Roman Forum, followed by a scenic ascent up the Palatine. The one Michelin-star restaurant is located within a historic building and has an outdoor terrace that overlooks the Colosseum.
The restaurant’s rooftop terrace was adorned with pristine white linens and twinkling candlelight, creating a serene atmosphere that beautifully complemented the surrounding historic architecture.
The interior is elegant and refined which sets the tone for a world-class dining experience. Dress code is smart-casual.
Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio locally sources each culinary offering. The focus is on high-quality ingredients and exceptional presentation. The reimagined Roman classics such as Carbonara and Amatriciana exemplify how the Chef skillfully builds on the aromas of Mediterranean cuisine and traditions of the Italian one.
The restaurant also offers a gourmet gluten-free menu featuring dishes such as maize pasta and monkfish.
Creative presentation is also on the menu at Aroma. Each dish is a masterpiece – honorable mention to the ethereal Carbonara reimagined. A wreath of perfectly al dente pasta in a creamy egg yolk sauce adorned with crispy guanciale and finished with a delicate shaving of black truffle. Each bite was a harmonious blend of rich, velvety flavors.
We finished with the Entrecôte of Wagyū with radicchio and seasonal vegetables. Entrecôte is a premium and flavorful cut that offers a juicy and intensely savory taste. The inherent richness and tenderness of the marbling, rich, and buttery Wagyū with its melt-in-your-mouth texture is the star of the dish.
The aroma exudes hints of caramelization and seared meat, while the aroma of the radicchio is pleasantly bitter, enhancing the olfactory experience. The radicchio is tender yet crisp in textural contrast to the silky, rich Wagyū.
Chapeau to the sommelier for optimum wine pairings with each course. The restaurant has an extensive wine cellar with more than 600 labels on offer.
There’s an amazing cocktail bar called The Court just downstairs. Both the view and aperitivo are among the best in Rome. Aperitivo (“to open”) is a cultural tradition and social ritual in Italy. It involves enjoying a pre-dinner drink with friends, usually accompanied by small snacks or appetizers.
Address: Via Labicana, 125
Aroma is also open for breakfast. Book using The Fork or directly on the website: https://www.manfredihotels.com/en/aroma/
Per Me Giulio Terrinoni
My culinary escapade through Rome took an exhilarating turn as I was drawn to Per Me by Giulio Terrinoni. A creative Italian dining experience in the heart of Rome where it’s all about the guests’ taste, this restaurant stands out for creativity in redefining Italian gastronomy.
The restaurant is chic in design. Everything from the décor to the table settings is up-scale sophisticated. The warm and welcoming service of the staff is a part of the sublime experience. The big open kitchen is energetic and lively. Per Me is open for lunch and dinner. The dress code is smart-casual/elegant.
The elaborate menu showcases the culinary techniques of Chef Giulio Terrinoni and his innovative approach to Italian seafood dishes. Vegetarian options are also noteworthy. The thought that went into the menu comes out in the outstanding taste and artistic display of the food.
The sommelier guided us through a curated selection of wines chosen to harmonize with the bold yet successful combination of flavors.
The appetizer, a delicate shrimp carpaccio foie gras adorned with vibrant red onion jelly, was a testament to the Chef’s commitment to quality ingredients and inventive combinations. Ten out of ten.
The thinly sliced shrimp carpaccio is fresh, light, and sweet. It releases a delicate aroma that evokes the sea’s briny essence, while also offering a hint of the shrimp’s natural sweetness. That aroma contrasts the rich and savory foie gras, a delicacy made from the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened.
It has a buttery, velvety, creamy texture and offers a luxurious taste that balances savory and sweet, perfectly complementing the delicate nature of the shrimp carpaccio. The addition of red onion jelly was phenomenal, contributing to a delightful touch of mild sweetness and a pleasant tanginess.
Address: Vicolo del Malpasso, 9
Il Pagliaccio is situated in the heart of Rome, not far from Piazza Navona. The restaurant holds two Michelin stars, making it one of the top culinary destinations in the Eternal City.
Since its inception twenty years ago, Il Pagliaccio continues to be deserving of praise. From start to finish, it is a truly memorable experience. The interesting sequence of the dishes and the surprise in each course resonates with the playfulness of the name Il Pagliaccio, which means, “the clown”.
The Chef, Anthony Genovese, is known for his innovative and artistic approach to food. The menu pays homage to local ingredients while daringly reinterpreting traditional recipes.
The delicate and delicious pumpkin risotto was an exquisite prelude to the succulent veal tenderloin. The sommelier, a virtuoso in his domain, orchestrated the wine pairing.
The essence of sweet and nutty pumpkin risotto provided an excellent base for the rest of the flavors to scrumptiously build upon. The goat cheese adds a creamy, tangy richness, and a slightly sharp element to each bite.
The use of Mantovana mustard brings a hint of spiciness and depth to the dish. Mostarda Mantovana is an ancient Italian condiment made of candied fruit (most commonly pears or apples) and Mustard Essence Oil or a mustard-flavored syrup.
The veal unveils a symphony of savory notes that dance on the tongue. The accompanying reduction, crafted with precision, drapes the veal in a light, silken, citrusy glaze. The inclusion of black truffle essence shaved delicately over the juicy veal brings the dish to new heights.
The interior, particularly the bare-brick dining room, is chic and contemporary, with attention to detail in its design and table settings. The atmosphere is intimate. Dress code is smart.
The restaurant is open for lunch (€150 per person) and dinner (from €200 per person). The Parallels experience featuring fourteen Mediterranean-to-Asia inspired courses is extra special and offers you the opportunity to dine in a more private area for €300 per person. There are no à la carte options.
Address: Via dei Banchi Vecchi, 129/a
Make a reservation online at https://ristoranteilpagliaccio.com/
My journey is ending at La Pergola, widely regarded as one of the finest dining establishments in Rome. The three-star Michelin restaurant is located within the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Dining on the terrace offers a spectacular backdrop of the Eternal City. The view alone, with the city’s iconic landmarks in the distance, is worth the visit. Lavish furnishings and crystal chandeliers create an ambiance that is intimate and refined.
It was an evening of pure indulgence, where every dish felt like a tribute to the city’s culinary heritage. Additionally, the impeccable service at La Pergola adds to the overall experience, making guests feel pampered and well-cared for. The dress code is smart, stylish, elegant.
Each dish is a work of art. Gourmet Italian cuisine prepared by the master of innovation Chef Heinz Beck showcases Rome’s rich culinary history with famed dishes like trippa alla romana and classics like cacio e pepe, but with a modern twist.
Among the many epicurean delights we enjoyed, the cheese selection stands as a favorite. A meticulously orchestrated ensemble of textures, aromas, and flavors that showcases the diversity of Italy’s fromage offerings.
Starting with lusciously creamy Burrata di Andria, a delicate pouch of fresh mozzarella filled with a velvety center. Its indulgent, milky flavor sets the stage for the culinary opulence that follows. Taleggio Affine, hailing from the Lombardy region, graces the platter with its aromatic and semi-soft texture.
Adding an additional layer of decadence is the Pecorino Tartufato, a truffle-infused sheep’s milk cheese. A jewel-like compote of ripe figs infused with aged balsamic vinegar complements the cheeses, adding a sweet and tangy dimension.
Other accompaniments included locally sourced honey infused with truffle essence, delicate sheets of crisp Sardinian flatbread and a medley of toasted hazelnuts. A drizzle of Vin Santo reduction adds a layer of complexity, introducing nutty undertones and a touch of sweetness that harmonize with the cheeses.
The Rome Cavalieri is located on the Monte Mario, about 15 minutes by car from the historic center.
Reservations are essential. La Pergola is closed for renovations until April 2024.
Address: Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101
Fine dining in Rome is not just about the food, but also about the emotions it evokes and historical setting of the city. The best way to experience authentic Roman dining is on an Eating Europe food tour (eatingeurope.com/rome), where a Rome local will guide you through the essence of Roman food while you visit several historical restaurants.
My journey through Rome’s fine dining scene was a memorable one, and I left with a deeper appreciation for the city’s rich culture and culinary heritage. From innovative fusion dishes to traditional Roman classics, the city’s food scene is a reflection of its dynamic and ever-evolving spirit.