Rome’s Mercato Centrale at Termini train station has rightly received a lot of attention for its street food offerings from Pizzarium, Trapizzino and other stands. Not enough attention has been paid to La Tavola di Oliver Glowig, a serene restaurant perched on a mezzanine high above the hubbub. The food is without question some of the most delicious I’ve tasted in Rome, and I keep looking for reasons to return.
I routinely offer to accompany departing friends to this chaotic transport hub under the guise of being a good host, when in reality I can’t stop thinking about Glowig’s cacio e pepe with sea urchin. One time I even stopped for lunch in between changing from one subway line to another. The setting is admittedly strange, but the food keeps calling me back.
Chef Glowig, who is of German origin, opened an eponymous fine dining restaurant in Rome back in 2011. It gained 2 Michelin stars, but then closed for economic reasons in 2015. It was full every day, Glowig told Gambero Rosso, but the cost of maintaining a two-star restaurant was too onerous with a staff of 22 people for 30 diners. Glowig reappeared on the scene in 2016 with this restaurant at Termini.
He is here all the time, presiding calmly at the pass in his open kitchen while trains traverse the depths below. Glowig’s cuisine at La Tavola is elevated, far superior to something you’d expect to taste at the station, and so are the prices. Most pasta dishes go for around 16€, and my beloved eliche cacio e pepe ricci di mare costs 20€. The extra cost and extra deliciousness seem to be in direct proportion. Service, too, is a level above what you’d find at a local trattoria, but not as fussy as someplace with Michelin stars.
There hasn’t been an antipasti or primi that I haven’t loved among more than a dozen dishes tasted. I’ve had less success with the secondi. Nothing has been bad, and a dish of roasted octopus still pleasantly visits my dreams, but they pale by comparison to the preceding dishes. That’s true almost everywhere in Rome. I don’t have any experience with dessert here, but have made great use of their enjoyable wine list.
To get here, you’ll need to ascend by stairs or elevator to the first floor mezzanine within Mercato Centrale. Find the Pizzarium counter and then look to the right. Once seated inside, it’s relatively easy to forget that you’re at the train station, unless you need to use the restroom. In that case, you’ll need to go back downstairs and wade through a sea of plastic trays to reach the public toilet at the back of the market. We’ve learned to go before or after since it breaks the spell to do so in the middle of a meal.
Should you plan to go here while in Rome? I don’t know. It would be an odd recommendation to receive if you’re looking for a truly Roman experience. Glowig’s Tavola is an in-between space. It’s in between casual and fine dining, and between here and your next destination. But it might deserve to be, like the restaurant Agern in New York’s Grand Central Station, a destination in its own right.
We’ve included this among our Favorite Restaurants in Rome.
Address: Via Giovanni Giolitti, 36 (Mercato Centrale at Termini train station)
Hours: Open every day from 12:00-15:00 and from 19:00-23:00.
Telephone: +39 06 4620 2989
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La Tavola di Oliver Glowig in pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- Gambero Rosso (2018) awarded La Tavola di Oliver Glowig with 1 Fork and a numerical rating of 78/100 in 2018.
- “I Ristoranti d’Italia” by L’Espresso awards them 1/5 hats (“good”) for 2018.
- Puntarella Rossa (2016) are happy to reencounter some of Glowig’s standout signature dishes like the pasta cacio e pepe with sea urchins. They appreciate the “very moderate prices” here compared to Glowig’s fine dining establishments of the past, and say his cuisine has “the right dose of creativity.”