Testaccio’s reputation as the Eternal City’s meat market was earned thanks to last century’s butcheries and this past decade’s discos, but these new restaurants and hangouts are getting Testaccio off the chopping block.
The love child of restaurateurs Alessandro Pipero and Pino Cau (of Pipero al Rex) and chef Marco Martini, who was named Central Italy’s 2013 Emerging Chef by culinary publishing house Witaly, Stazione di Posta holds court at Città dell’Altra Economia, Rome’s fair-trade hub and former slaughterhouse stockades. The restaurant has that relaxed, slightly hipster vibe — it’s sparsely decorated with vintage furniture and rich sanguine hues. Martini curates an innovative menu of regional Laziale cuisine, using ingredients from local, organic producers. He bases his dishes on technique and memory; a simple dumpling, for example, becomes fusion, mixing Chinese cuisine with his mother’s chicken cacciatore.
It’s the latest opening on a city block that also includes the neighborhood’s most prolific discotheques. In stark contrast, the white-tiled restaurant is a nod to butcher shops of days past. There’s a distinct yesteryear atmosphere at La Moderna, from its en suite pizzeria and bakery to its side salotto, a leather-couch-filled lounge with vintage projection screen. If anything, the true focus of La Moderna is the large, central bar where expert mixologists have polished a full palette of cocktails and a clever antipasto offering of Roman street food and cani caldi (hot dogs).
This eatery literally corners the market in cute. Built out of a cross section of a vintage tramcar, Tram Depot sits at the busy intersection of Testaccio’s two main thoroughfares, Via Galvani and Via Marmorata, and in front of a stop for Rome’s #3 tram. The small food-and-beverage kiosk is quietly making a name for itself as the spot to grab a morning cappuccino or late-evening nightcap. Morning treats include Italian favorites ciambellone (a vanilla or chocolate Bundt-like cake) and cornetti (croissants), while its afternoon and evening delights are a menu of savory antipasti, aperitivi, artisanal beers and thirst-quenchers such as the Roman grattachecca, hand-shaved iced with flavored syrups. With the cold weather picking up, Tram Depot is keeping shorter evening hours, but remains open from morning to dusk.
Photos Courtesy of La Moderna