Rome has a stable of home-grown and local flavor go-to restaurants that have been around for what seems like centuries, but over the past 18 months, the city has been subtly raising a new crop of eateries that are mixing up the old-school lineup of cacio e pepe and carbonara with some new flavor.
Casa Coppelle is a seductive, Paris-inspired restaurant in the Pantheon neighborhood. With a very quiet opening mid-2015, Casa Coppelle enjoys its off-the-radar reputation as the petite resto-lounge for a secret tryst. The nouvelle Franco-Roman menu by chef Fabio Rossi cleverly flirts with both cuisine styles like the risotto cacio e pepe con gamberi saltati, a Pecorino and pepper risotto with sautéed shrimp, and the saltimbocca casa coppelle, a veal and prosciutto dish. If you require a wait, the Krug cocktail bar is the ideal place to hold court… with a Schiaparelli Sour in hand, of course.
Rome’s Salaria neighborhood (in particular the area surrounding the MACRO museum) is an unchartered new world of great restaurants. Turning the proverbial tables on Roman is Galbi, a Korean barbecue restaurant. Designed with an open floor plan, the overall style is minimal, natural and airy, an easy spot for a great conversation. Galbi’s meat- and fish-focused roster features primarily barbecue options and, of course, great kimchi. Its lunch menu includes four Lunch Box (i.e. combo platter) selections. The must-try item, however, is the Galbi Burger di Pancia di Maiale, a succulent pork belly with kimchi, pickled zucchini and radish.
Around the corner from Galbi and no longer the new kid on the block, Marzapane (which opened in late 2013 but was renovated in mid-2014) is officially the clean-up hitter of neighborhood restaurants, thanks to the kitchen elaborations of chef Alba Esteve Ruiz and the spot’s Scando-chic, eco-style design. The Spanish-born Ruiz pays homage to Italian recipes with fantastic innovation. Case in point: the Carbonara 2013, a delicious Roman staple that Marzapane has perfected. We love Ruiz’s risotto, a beautiful play on a simple alici (anchovy) with butter, Cantabrian Sea anchovies and candied ginger. Marzapane has a seasonal à la carte menu as well as three tasting menus. Keep your eye on more moves from Marzapane — Ruiz’s team is overseeing the December-opened restaurant at Rome’s opera house Teatro dell’Opera.
Trattoria da Neno
Newcomer Trattoria da Neno (in the Piazza Bologna neighborhood) falls in line with Rome’s mod gastro-bars — see: minimal and streamlined — though the food focus takes you back home. With “comfort food “as the pitch, Trattoria Neno’s vibe is Italian home cooking, a menu full of those regional must-haves like cured meats, cheeses, fresh pastas and favorites like polpette in vino bianco (meat balls in white wine). Vegetable lovers, take a look at the menu’s Dall’Orto (from the garden) section for a selection of seasonal, fresh local and regional picks.