Epiro is my favorite sort of place – it’s a mom & pop restaurant for the modern age. Alessandra Viscardi and Marco Mattana met in art school but decided that a restaurant was their future. They opened Epiro five years ago in an inexpensive neighborhood just outside of Rome’s center. She manages the dining room and the liquids, he runs the kitchen with Matteo Baldi. Their approach is sincere and personal, and they deliver incredible value for money.
In the beginning, Epiro was a place to try inexpensive creative cooking with a good selection of craft beer and natural wine. It is still that, but the cooking is now on another level. Their project, which now includes a garden where they’re growing as much of their own food as possible, has evolved slowly and organically over time. Their commitment and capacity for growth are on display every time I visit. D’you know who else is visiting? Chef and fellow gardener Alain Passard. I spied the three-star Paris chef on Epiro’s Instagram page this week and thought, “that makes sense.”
Epiro is a place where you can eat six very good courses for only 50€. On my most recent visit, the standout dish was a salad of octopus and shrimp pulsing with the brightness of fresh herbs and crowned with a steamed ravioli of cacio e pepe. A witty and delicious balance of East meets Rome. A dish of gnocchi with rabbit ragù and root vegetables was perfect for a cold winter night. So was a steaming hot bowl of “ramen” with vegetable noodles, quail and shrimp. The broth was deep and profound but the overall effect was light and satisfying.
Viscardi’s selection of wines and beer are highly interesting and highly funky. She likes to play with pairings and to share personal stories about the producers. I’ll admit that it sometimes goes a little far for my taste, but friends who are more hard-core naturalista really love this list. Cool restaurants with natural wine lists sometimes suffer from poor, chaotic service. Not here at Epiro. Viscardi previously spent a year at the fine dining restaurant Acquolina, and it shows. Her service isn’t formal, but it’s far more attentive and professional than you’d expect to find in a restaurant at this price point.
Epiro is just a 10-15 minute cab ride from the Campo de’ Fiori and is worth the journey to experience a thoughtful, creative and highly personal restaurant from the next generation of Roman restaurateurs.
We’ve included this among our Favorite Restaurants in Rome.
Address: Piazza Epiro, 26
Hours: Open for dinner Tuesday-Thursday from 19:00-23:00 and for both lunch and dinner on Saturday & Sunday from 13:00-15:00 and 19:00-23:00. Closed Monday.
Telephone: +39 06 6931 7603
Website Facebook Instagram
Epiro in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- “I Cento” by EDT ranks this as their #26 restaurant in Rome for 2018, noting that they have definitely grown in the years since their opening. Natural wines and craft beers are paired in perfect harmony with the dishes from chefs Marco Mattana and Matteo Baldi that embody both modern and traditional techniques with a good dose of creativity.
- Gambero Rosso (2018) has awarded Epiro with 2 Forks and a numerical rating of 80/100 in 2018, 78 in 2017, 76 in 2016, 74 in 2015 (improving).
- “Roma nel Piatto” by La Pecora Nera gave them a score of 7+ out of 10 points (“good, very good”) in 2018 and 7.5 points in 2017.
- Puntarella Rossa (2017) describes how Epiro recently began renting a parcel from an organic farm to grow their own vegetables and how and the staff rotates working between the kitchen and the garden. So in addition to the products purchased in Piazza Epiro, they’re creating and harvesting their own raw materials.
- Punch (2016) prefers the liquids, saying “though there is plenty of good will towards the hard-working kitchen, the food isn’t particularly impressive. The wine list, on the other hand, is the real draw, attracting the city’s top sommeliers and natural wine aficionados. Luckily, you can just stop by for a glass or a bottle without having a full meal.”
- Food & Wine (2015) says that “abbacchio al forno—baby lamb roasted over yellow potatoes—is as rustic a Roman dish as you can get. But at Trattoria Epiro, in San Giovanni, southeast of the city walls, chef Mateo Mattana makes a refined version with carefully sliced and plated lamb accompanied by a puree of purple potatoes. The dish may seem New American, but the artichokes and licorice powder are proudly Italian.
- Luciano Pignatero (2014) says that after being open one year, and after receiving an enviable collection of enthusiastic reviews between print and web, Epiro continues to deliver, “always led by a team of young and motivated professionals. And we hope it goes on like this for a long time.”
Also recommended in this style
Also recommended in this neighborhood