Barnaba is one of those rare and wonderful places that’s slightly better than it needs to be. It’s a wine bar where the wine is really good, where the food is better than anticipated, and where there’s enough space to spread out with a large group or to drop in without a reservation.
Perpetual is an audacious and modern new restaurant in the sleepy quarter just east of the Colosseum. Its opening six months ago was the culmination of a six-year effort by Cezar Predescu. The investment of time and money is palpable. There’s a slightly nervous energy – is this going to work? – that pulses through the mostly empty restaurant. One wants to root for them, and indeed there is much to praise at Perpetual. But it’s a more complicated picture…
Chef Adriano Baldassarre is currently firing on all cylinders and his restaurant Tordomatto should be a destination for anyone who loves modernist fine dining. I’m frankly shocked to feel this way. I returned last night expecting to confirm my impression from last year that this place is an expensive snooze. It’s still expensive by Roman standards, but Tordomatto is now – to my great surprise – a thrilling restaurant.
SantoPalato is having a moment. My friends who are traveling to Rome routinely ask about this new trattoria. They’ve heard about it from Katie Parla in pieces from the New York Times or Eater (links below) and want to know if it lives up to the hype.
That hype is significant, but it’s not without substance. Sarah Cicolini is a sincere and gutsy cook who centers her cuisine around the off-cuts known in Rome as quinto quarto. Cicolini has a strong philosophy about using all parts of the animal. If you’re into that, you’re going to have a ball at SantoPalato (maybe literally).
For a while now, I’ve been on the hunt for a new Cesare. Ever since Katie Parla called this “the perfect trattoria” back in 2012, Cesare has been prominently on the radar of hungry travelers. 2015 was a record year for anglophone press coverage (see links below), but with the recent publication of Eater’s Guide to Rome, in which the trattoria is featured prominently in four different articles, I believe we are now experiencing Peak Cesare.
I’ve never disagreed with any of these rave reviews. But I’ve wondered, like Peggy Lee, “is that all there is?”
There are many potential reasons to celebrate the arrival of Emma Pizzeria in the center of Rome. It’s open every day. It’s spacious, so the chances of snagging an unreserved seat are high. It’s possible to dine outside in good weather. They’re open at lunch, when most pizzerias are shuttered. The quality of wine and deli products is excellent, as one can expect from a place with links to Roscioli. However, the product that’s central to their mission – thin crust Roman style pizza – is disastrously and consistently bad.
The shop Volpetti has long been a pilgrimage site for obsessive lovers of cheese, salumi and other gourmet products from all over Italy. For travelers with eyes bigger than their hotel mini-fridge, however, their selection has always been something of a tease. How best to enjoy such takeaway bounty when you don’t have a proper kitchen in Rome? Enter Taverna Volpetti, a small wine bar around the corner from the mothership, serving beautiful boards of their outstanding cheeses and cured meats. A handful of wines are available by the glass, but the selection of bottles is more impressive and includes some older vintages.