Destination: Italy: Rome
Situated in the San Lorenzo area, a sort of Greenwich Village with lots of students and artists, this wine bar has a sleek pared-down look and a very good wine list, with more than 2,000 bottles. The chic crowd comes for the lounge-y atmosphere and delicious tapas-like food.
This sushi place, in the newly fashionable neighborhood of Monti, is one of the toughest reservations to get. The menu also offers Indonesian and Thai dishes.
Gusto Tati' al 28
Restaurant chain ‘Gusto practically owns the area around Piazza Augusto Imperatore, the square that holds Richard Meier’s stunning Ara Pacis museum. The latest incarnation was supposed to be a fish restaurant, Gusto Pesce, but the idea didn’t take, so it was turned into a bar-lounge-restaurant combo that worked so well for the group around the corner at the original Gusto.
The best time to come is for aperitivo, when for €10 you get a drink (classics in Rome are Prosecco or Aperol Spritz) and access to the buffet, which consists of a seriously delectable parade of antipasta and small-plate dishes. On a recent visit, the nibbles ranged from homemade potato chips and tea sandwiches to more serious fare, like tuna-laced pasta salad and couscous with roasted cherry tomatoes. With a groovy soundtrack, dark leather couches and sexy ambience, ‘Gusto is a great place to kick off and evening or, if you’re full on long Roman meals, have a few glasses of wine and a small-plate dinner. Both branches are open all-day, a rarity in Rome, making them two good spots to add to the map.
Glass, wood, steel and iron defines the minimal space of this perennial hot spot near Piazza Navona. The menu focuses on mozzarella, flown in daily from Campania, south of Naples. The heavenly white cheese is paired with condiments, salads and sandwiches, which are served for lunch and dinner. With its hipster clientele, Obika is also a great place for people watching. A sister location opened in 2009 in Campo Fiori. Its interiors are not as spacious and sleek but it does have outdoor seating on the lively square.
In support of local food and wine, the regional government of Lazio opened Palatium, located just off the Spanish Steps in the heart of the luxury-shopping district. This sleek wine bar and restaurant serves up veggie-rich dishes paired with hard-to find wines from small producers; it’s the perfect place for a light meal or apertivo with friends. Snack on local cheeses and cured meats or for a hot meal, try the baccala (salt cod) or asparagus frittata. Closed Sunday.
As the up-and-coming Prati district (north of the Vatican) has continued to develop, the panini bar – cum- lunch spot – cum – wine bar Settembrini has developed into a major player in Rome’s restaurant scene. Reminiscent of a trendy New York hotspot, the restaurant is dimly lit with a large bar, floor-to-ceiling windows and enormous bookshelves full of Roman classics and tabletop books lining the walls. The local menu by chef Luigi Nastri changes often and is focused on offerings like fresh pastas with locally caught fish and regional produce. The extensive, always revolving wine list is based largely on local Italian wines and is a treasure.
Minimalist cool sets the stage for chef Filippo La Mantia’s delightful new take on Sicilian cuisine at Rome’s newest high-design restaurant. Located near the Pantheon, Trattoria is the creation of the Giametta brothers, who previously worked with Italy’s hottest architect, Massimiliano Fuksas. Baked sole comes to the table as millefloglia, with thin layers of pumpkin interspersed with a wild blueberry sauce. Reservations are essential; ask for a table with a view of the open kitchen.
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