There’s a lot to love about Giulia, a new restaurant on the prettiest street in central Rome. The service is lovely. It’s open every day, accepts online reservations, and is right in the middle of where you want to be. They have a young chef, Pierluigi Gallo, who’s just bursting with ideas. It’s not terribly expensive, and there are vegetarian options for every course.
Because Giulia ticks so many boxes, I’m sure to recommend it often. It’s important to note, however, that Pierluigi Gallo isn’t just striving to make a serviceable restaurant, he’s trying to grab a much loftier gastronomic brass ring. He sometimes misses, and usually because he’s attempted too much. While I’ve had many excellent dishes here, my least favorite ones suffer from having too many components on the plate. I can’t help but wonder if the heavy texture of the gnocchi and ravioli would be improved if Gallo’s attentions weren’t divided between their overwhelming number of garnishes.
My favorite among Gallo’s dishes are his most straight-forward creations. He’s used a luxurious cacciatore sauce to great effect on several different dishes, providing depth to plates of impeccably cooked rabbit or mullet, each one simply paired with a vegetable partner. He has a wonderful way with octopus, cooking it first at low temperature and later adding a bit of char. The accompaniments change with the seasons – artichoke and anchovy in winter, red peppers and a gin-jellied vegetables in late spring. His simple offering of lamb tartare with white asparagus is truly delicious. The rest of the lamb – it’s leg, belly and brain, show up in another delectable dish.
A final note about desserts: they’re phenomenal, and all the more impressive because Gallo is doubling as a pastry chef and making them himself. I personally prefer sweets that are on the lactic or savory side, and find Gallo’s to be deliciously balanced. My favorites among them include his tartlet of amarena cherry and ricotta di bufala, and a rectangle of soft caramel that’s draped in yogurt with oregano, olive oil and salt. For last sips, you’ll find an excellent selection of amari and an eye-opening homemade limoncello.
In conclusion, this is a great option for creative cuisine with excellent service in central Rome. While Giulia isn’t perfect, Pierluigi Gallo is without question a promising young chef to watch.
We’ve included this among our thirty Favorite Restaurants in Rome.
Giulia in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- Puntarella Rossa (2017) awards Giulia with the Puntarella d’Oro for best new restaurant (edging out Retrobottega), calling Pierluigi Gallo “a chef who will be talking about, who gives new life to the cuisine of Abruzzo (and not only). And a modern restaurant, in one of the most beautiful streets of Rome.”
- Reporter Gourmet (2018) Luciana Squadrilli recounts the journey of chef Pierluigi Gallo, most recently at the now shuttered Greg restaurant in Tivoli, and calls dinner here a real gourmet affair. The stuffed gnocchi with crispy puntarelle have “reached perfection,” and spaghetti with a sauce of octopus, sea urchin, and razor clams “distills the essence of the sea while maintaining creaminess and richness.”
- Puntarella Rossa (2017) calls Pierluigi Gallo a “young and promising chef” with a serious resume, including stints working with Riccardo di Giacinto from All’Oro and Anthony Genovese from Il Pagliaccio, plus four years at Pascucci al Porticciolo in Fiumicino. They call his cooking “mature,” and grounded in terroir with well-considered creativity.