Rome Restaurants: New Takes on the Classics
—Katie Parla, co-author of Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors & Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City
Salumeria Roscioli: Chef Nabil Hassed
Pasta alla gricia doesn't have the name recognition of cacio e pepe or carbonara, yet it is just as much a Roman classic. The most common incarnations feature spaghetti with supple bits of guanciale (cured pork jowl), pecorino and ground black pepper. At Salumeria Roscioli, Tunisian-born Hassed takes this stunningly simple dish to the next level by subbing in rigatoni for the spaghetti, crisping the guanciale and using a variety of peppercorns. Via dei Giubbonari 21; salumeriaroscioli.com.
Il Convivio Troiani: Chef Angelo Troiani
Behind a nondescript doorway just north of Piazza Navona, brothers Angelo, Massimo and Giuseppe Troiani offer a wonderful update of Rome's old-school spaghetti with garlic, oil and chile. The Troianis amp up this quintessential comfort food with pecorino, lemon, mint and almonds. Plus, they add one more exotic ingredient: sweet, briny red shrimp from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Vicolo dei Soldati 31; ilconviviotroiani.it.
Ristorante L'Arcangelo: Chef Arcangelo Dandini
No meal at this restaurant in the Prati neighborhood would be complete without a salad called Viaggio a Rocca Priora. The name, which translates as "a trip to Rocca Priora," is a whimsical reference to Dandini's hometown in the suburbs. The chef seems more interested in history than geography, however, flavoring the wild greens and poached egg with spices—cumin, licorice, fennel pollen—that evoke ancient Rome. Via Giuseppe Gioachino Belli 59; larcangelo.com.
Litro: Chef Ravinda Weeravardana
Artichokes (carciofi) are a Roman mainstay, usually prepared either deep-fried (alla giudia, or Jewish-style) or simmered with olive oil (alla romana). But at Litro, a wine bar in Rome's Monteverde Vecchio neighborhood, Weeravardana finds inspiration in the fresh artichoke salads served in villages across Italy. He serves thin slices of raw young artichoke, dressing them only with lemon juice and olive oil. Via Fratelli Bonnet 5; vinerialitro.it.
Pizzarium: Chef Gabriele Bonci
For about a century, Romans defined suppli narrowly: risotto-and-meat-sauce croquettes stuffed with mozzarella. But pizza guru Bonci has reinvented the popular street snack. At Pizzarium, his innovative spot in Prati, he replaces the arborio rice with pesto-tossed trofie (a short, twisty Ligurian pasta) packed around a soft stracchino cheese center. The trofie and pesto are northern Italian, but the dish is 100 percent Roman. Via della Meloria 43; bonci.it.
Sbanco: Chef Stefano Callegari
At Sbanco, which opened last April near San Giovanni, Callegari has come up with rule-breaking methods for making his brilliant pizzas. He scatters ice over the dough just before baking it in his domed wood- burning oven; the heat melts the ice and leaves the crust moist and slightly sticky. Then come the toppings, including one inspired by cacio e pepe that combines pecorino with lots of ground black pepper. Via Siria 1.
Trattoria Epiro: Chef Marco Mattana
Abbacchio al forno—baby lamb roasted over yellow potatoes—is as rustic a Roman dish as you can get. But at Trattoria Epiro, in San Giovanni, southeast of the city walls, Mattana makes a refined version with carefully sliced and plated lamb accompanied by a puree of purple potatoes. The dish may seem New American, but the artichokes and licorice powder are proudly Italian. Piazza Epiro 25.
Marzapane: Chef Alba Esteve Ruiz
Roman cooks mainly rely on olive oil and rendered pork fat, yet they also love butter, especially with anchovies on toast or tossed with pasta. At Marzapane, north of the city center, in the Pinciano neighborhood, Spanish-born chef Ruiz uses French butter and Cantabrian anchovies for her outstanding risotto. Slivers of candied ginger, a rarity on Roman tables, contribute surprising sweetness and tang. Via Velletri 39; marzapaneroma.com.