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.
I had originally planned to swing by just for drinks after dinner at Da Remo. When we arrived and saw a hundred people waiting to get into that pizzeria, we turned on our heels and headed straight for Barnaba. I knew from previous experience at their sister Champagne bar Remigio that the wine here would be great. I wasn’t expecting much from the kitchen and was pleasantly surprised.
The menu from chef Stefania Pinto is divided into pages that differ according to appetite. If you’re only feeling peckish, you can pick from the page of cheese, salumi, oysters and crostini. The crostino with burrata and bottarga was our favorite here.
Slightly more substantial plates include things like fried anchovies, eggplant croquettes, sautéed zucchini or asparagus with crispy proscuitto and a zabaione of pecorino. All four of these were delicious, but the last dish, which was sort of like an asparagus carbonara, had me swooning and not wanting to share.
If you need a more substantial base to soak up all of the incredible wine on offer, Barnaba also offers pasta and meat dishes. The orecchiette with mini meatballs is satisfying, and the tortelli with ricotta, lemon, sausage and mosto (grape must) is delicious and much better than it looks.
The staff can be a little frenzied (there were several large celebratory tables that night) but they’re friendly and helpful whenever you manage to flag them down. Unless you already know a lot about wine, don’t hesitate to ask for help in navigating their extensive list. It leans toward natural and independent producers and includes a wide selection of Champagne and other wines from France in addition to bottles from every corner of Italy. You’ll also find a good selection of more than twenty wines by the glass, including bubbles, white, rosé, and red.
In short, Barnaba is a very welcome new addition to Rome’s wine bar scene. It’s easy to get to, located just five minutes away from the Piramide subway station in Testaccio. The bottle selection is spot on, the food is tasty and affordable, and they have a beautiful terrace that doesn’t require reservations long in advance. Hurrah!
Barnaba in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- Scatti di Gusto (2018) notes that “the cellar has 110 labels of Champagne, 130 of Italian wines, and 100 of foreign wines from France and Germany. More than half of the wines are priced under 30 euros, in line with the goal of sharing this passion, making it affordable for everyone.”
- Gambero Rosso (2018) explains in a pre-opening report that “the name is dedicated to San Barnaba, which protects the vineyards from hail,” and they hope this new outpost will come to have the fame and affection that its sister bar Remigio has earned over the last 10 years, thanks to their focus on “quality at low prices and an informal approach.”