Rome has a tendency to slow down once the heat sets in, especially in August, when the city nearly comes to a full stop for any new openings as everyone heads out of town. But this summer, the Eternal City flouts tradition by debuting three brand-new restaurants that you will want to check out.
Isola Tiberina, the tiny island in the middle of the Tiber River, has a new quadruple threat in café/bar/gelateria/restaurant Tiberino. For nearly 80 years, the bar has been a traditional morning destination for those shortcutting across the island. Looking for a reincarnation, the place renovated its bar with a very casual and subtly nautical theme (as per the maritime passions of its owner) and reeled in chef Luca Mattana (formerly of the beloved Il Pagliaccio) to helm the nouveau bistro. Mattana’s menu includes antipasti like alici fritte con panure di pistacchi e crema di peperoni (fried, pistachio-encrusted anchovies with a bell pepper cream) and seemingly simple dishes such as gnocchi di patate con cozze (potato gnocchi pasta with mussels), vongole, zafferano e bottarga (potato gnocchi with mussels, clams, saffron and bottarga) and a burger di baccalà impanato (breaded codfish burger). For just a nibble, Mattana pairs his antipasti with specialty cocktails and a wine list that includes 34 organic and biodynamic labels. Another option: Make a reservation for Sunday breakfast where the kitchen serves Anglo-Roman dishes, including a lovely eggs Benedict with lemon zest.
Eataly Roma Repubblica
Gourmet Italian supermarket juggernaut Eataly just inaugurated a second (and more accommodating) location at Piazza della Repubblica. The Art Nouveau-style piazza, which had once been a favorite for would-be photographers thanks to its beautiful Nayad Fountain and nearly 180 degrees of curved colonnade, had fallen into a life of merely being a thoroughfare to Rome’s central train station. With this latest epicurean entry, though, that should all change. The enticing four-level, 16,000-square-foot food store has a market place; shops dedicated to artisanal beer, gelato, cheese, cured meats, vegetables and pastries; and seven “ristorantini.” These curated restaurants focus on specific Italian themes and Roman specialties, including pasta, pizza, meat and fried delicacies. The top-level Sala dei Naiadi features two eateries that have an outstanding view overlooking the piazza and famed fountain.
Giuda Ballerino is one of the capital’s most respected restaurants, thanks to the creativity of owner and chef Andrea Fusco. And now in its new location atop Hotel Bernini Bristol, Fusco’s eatery is front-row Rome. A rooftop restaurant peeking into Piazza Barberini and looking at Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous Triton fountain, Giuda Ballerino is luminous, modern and romantic — the perfect complement to the delicious playfulness of Fusco’s creations. The restaurant features four seasonal tasting menus that play off regional and territorial produce and recipes — the five-dish Classici (timeless Fusco selections); Quello Che Mangerei (chef’s choice); seven-item Io, Io Chef (past and present classics); and four-course Ne’ Carne Ne’ Pesce for vegetarians — as well as à la carte options. The classic carbonara becomes a risotto with sweet breads and lard, while American favorite fettuccine Alfredo is unexpectedly made with squid ink. For less fuss, Fusco also curates an affordable business lunch consisting of a trademark Giuda Ballerina dish, dessert and glass of wine.