The 2017 red Michelin guide for Italy includes 74 restaurants in Rome. The top one, as mentioned in my earlier article, is Heinz Beck’s “La Pergola” with 3 stars; another is Anthony Genovese’s “Il Pagliaccio” with 2 stars at Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a, just across the Tiber from the Vatican and Trastevere, and 16 have one star. The other 56 have “plates”, the equivalent of honorable mention. Of the 16 with one star, five are new. All five have young, already acclaimed chefs but newly arrived to their present location, internet-readable tasting and à la carte menus so you can choose your meal in advance; and three are located in luxury hotels.
Assaye is the completely renovated and renamed restaurant of the Aldovrandi Hotel across the street from the Villa Borghese in Rome’s most luxurious residential neighborhood Parioli. “Assaye” means abundance in Neapolitan dialect and Executive Chef Florentine Claudio Mengoni, age 33, focuses on Mediterranean dishes, both traditional and modern, with top-quality ingredients. His predecessor was German Oiver Glowig with two Michelin stars so a hard act to follow. Recommended: Mengoni’s dessert “Il Colosseo”-a walnut and pear brownie, coffee cream, whiskey ice cream, pears, and passion fruit.
The motto of Japanese chef Kotaro Noda at Bistrot 64 is “Only if you’re driven by the deepest passion, can you achieve the very best.” Consequently, the food at this informal bistrot, off the beaten tourist track, near Rome’s performing arts complex “Il Parco della Musica” is top-quality and imaginative, his spaghetti made out of potato to name just one dish. Noda’s unique dessert menu is listed by color, including “rainbow”, depending on the ingredients. His 4-course tasting menu with amuse bouche and pastries for 35 euros is very good value at a top restaurant in Rome. Bistrot 64, at Via G. Calderini 64, is closed Sunday and open for lunch only on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Like Bistrot 64, The Corner is off the beaten tourist track: on the Aventine Hill, near the F.A.O., the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and within walking distance from the Colosseum. It’s also easily reached by the Metro (subway) and well worth a detour. In The Corner Townhouse, a 12-room boutique hotel in an art nouveau villa dating to the early 1900s, The Corner, closed Monday and open for lunch only on Sunday, has a winter-garden-style dining room, lined with overflowing bookcases, with an openable roof, huge plate glass windows, and a unique artwork: a life-size marble statue of Superman. At only 30 years old, 15 of which he’s spent in kitchens, Roman-born, but recently arrived here, Marco Martini, is one of Italy’s youngest Michelin-starred chefs. In 2013 Michelin had awarded him the title of “Upcoming Chef of the Year”. Moreover, he’s already won Michelin stars at “Open Colonna”, his first in 2011 and then again his second in 2015. His tour-de-force dish, always on his menu since 2010, is steamed ravioli stuffed with chicken alla cacciatora in roast potato broth. “It’s a cross,” he says, “between Hong Kong and my mother’s home.” Besides cooking Martini’s passion is rugby.
To reach Magnolia, already booked solidly through December, in the Grand Hotel Via Veneto you must pass through a black marble tunnel enhanced by a film of water and changing lights to find yourself in a magnificent cloister where you can eat outside in fine weather. Executive chef Franco Madama, who began cooking with the nuns in the afternoon program of his parochial school, is passionate about “Action Painting” so consequently his every dish is a unique work-of-art. Like Martini, he too has previously received a Michelin star while at Inkiostro in Parma.
Of the five newcomers Per Me, on Vicolo del Malpasso (Miss-Step Lane), off Via Giulia, one of the most important urban planning projects of Renaissance Rome and the narrow thoroughfare designed by Pope Julius II (reign: 1503-13) to bring pilgrims directly to St. Peter’s, is the new Michelin star closest to the Vatican and across the Tiber from Trastevere. Giulio Terrinoni, age 42, who grew up in his family’s restaurant in the old-fashioned spa-town of Fiuggi 60 miles east of Rome, calls his cuisine “a summary of professional and personal experiences”, in short, modulated “Per Voi” (For You). He too, like Marini and Madama, had been awarded Michelin stars elsewhere: in Terrinoni’s case, at Rome’s Aquilona Hostaria in 2009. If you read Italian, you can learn more about Terrinoni from his 2013 autobiography, “L’Importanza del riccio” (The Importance of the Sea Urchin). Recommended: Terrinoni’s dessert “L’Orient Express”: coffee ice cream with cashew nut sable, kumquat jam, and cream of gingerbread, and all his fish dishes. Per Me is open every evening and at lunch.