It’s all too easy to come to Rome and quickly feel disappointed with the food served in many of the restaurants close to key attractions. However, Rome enjoys an international reputation for its fantastic fresh ingredients and local cuisine, and many of the city’s restaurants are superbly skilled in showcasing these.
It would be remiss to visit the city and not tuck into local delicacies like pizza bianca, spaghetti alla carbonara or spaghetti cacio e pepe. Offal is also a traditional Roman favourite, including the widely available coda alla vaccinara, an oxtail stew simmered with herbs, spices and vegetables. However, the city also caters well to the modern palate. In addition to internationally inspired eateries, organic and vegetable-based dining is also enjoying increasing popularity. It’s easier than ever before to find a restaurant that will whip up a cold-pressed juice or a quinoa salad – good news for those who have had one too many helpings of spaghetti alla carbonara.
Rome has an outstanding gastronomic history but is something of a latecomer when it comes to vegan and vegetarian cuisine. Ginger, a fashionable bistro that specialises in organic, veggie-centric dishes, opened in the city in 2012 and has been a popular haunt for the health-conscious ever since. Its motto is ‘sapore e salute’ (tasty and healthy) and the restaurant’s bright white, modern interior incorporates vibrant, decorative fruit and vegetable displays. There’s an excellent juice bar the Mediterranean menu caters to the breakfast, lunch and dinner crowd. Ginger is focused on organic farming; 70% of ingredients used here are from certified organic origin and 80% are plant-based or raw. Look out for the steamer basket selection, which includes dishes such as spicy organic meatballs or cod with black organic quinoa, cooked in a high-pressure steamer which allows the natural ingredients to retain their nutrients.
Ginger, Via Borgognona 43-44, 00187 Rome, +39 06 6994 0836
Award-winning restaurant Zuma has brought its signature contemporary Japanese fare to Rome’s Palazzo Fendi – the restaurant’s first Italian foray among its 10 branches across the world. Zuma was established in London in 2002 by chef Rainer Becker who, after spending time in Japan, wanted to set up a restaurant inspired by the country’s informal izakaya-style dining. Zuma offers a relaxed atmosphere in chic, contemporary surroundings, and the main menu is complemented by dishes from the robata grill and sushi counter. The grill can be seen from the restaurant, so guests can watch as plates such as rib-eye steak with wafu sauce and jumbo tiger prawn with yuzu pepper are cooked to perfection. For a special event, book the private table, which seats up to eight, in the wine cellar. Be sure to visit the fifth-floor bar and lounge too; the terrace offers fantastic views of the city and is a great spot for an aperitivo or digestivo, or, perhaps, both.
Zuma, Palazzo Fendi, Via della Fontanella di Borghese 48, 00186 Rome, +39 06 9926 6622
There surely aren’t many better places to enjoy dinner than overlooking the Colosseum, which makes Aroma an unmissable spot – as does the delicious food it faultlessly turns out. Aroma’s chef Giuseppe di Iorio creates food that’s worthy of such a spectacular location, using seasonal ingredients and regional delicacies. Feast on the tasting menu, which includes standout plates of ravioli with buffalo mozzarella and Cantabrian anchovies, quail and chanterelle mushroom green lasagnette, and suckling pig served with apricot compote and fennel potatoes. It’s also worth checking out the à la carte offering, where you can find Aroma’s sublime interpretation of the classic Italian tiramisù dessert.
Aroma, Palazzo Manfredi, Via Labicana 125, 00184 Rome, +39 06 7759 1380
L’Autre Dame in the spectacular Palazzo Dama offers diners a taste of Roman grandeur as well as a lavish feast – or a healthy one, if they prefer. Palazzo Dama was home to the noble Malaspina family for over 100 years and was the site of many prestigious gatherings of Italian aristocrats. The mansion has recently reopened as an ultra-stylish hotel, restaurant and bar. Architect Antonio Girardi was responsible for the renovation and the result is nothing short of magnificent. If you can tear your eyes away from the white and gold panelled walls, imposing potted palm trees and magnificent chandeliers in L’Autre Dame restaurant, you can enjoy freshly made smoothies, juices and raw dishes, as well as internationally inspired plates.
L’Autre Dame, Palazzo Dama, Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia 2, 00196 Rome, +39 06 8956 5272