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Blog, Italy, Rome

Atelier Canova Tadolini, Rome – EAT

February 18, 2017
Museo Canova Tadolini, Rome

While I always try my hardest to be as ‘un-touristy’ as possible, especially when in Rome, where I like to consider myself almost a local (shame I don’t speak the language!), sometimes it’s quite fun to do something a little touristy and a little naff.

Having lunch at Atelier Canova Tadolini is one of these things worth doing.   We had a hilarious time, eating between the various classical busts and statues.  It was surprisingly quiet when we had lunch there, and made it almost feel like we had a private dining experience, were it for a charming French family who sat next to us.

Atelier Canova Tadolini, RomeAtelier Canova Tadolini, Rome

The staff were lovely, smiling at us as we took the mandatory photos of us having lunch.

And the food was surprisingly good.  I would stick to the ‘primi’ dishes – the pasta and risotto options – which were very rich but delicious.  I opted for the zucchini flower risotto which was a real hit, and my other favourite was the pecorino and black pepper home made pasta in the parmesan basket which is very typical of Rome.  The prices are also very reasonable.

Atelier Canova Tadolini, RomeAtelier Canova Tadolini, Rome

We left after a strong espresso to give us more energy to continue exploring the city.  While this isn’t on my top places to eat in Rome, I would recommend it, even if you just stop by for a coffee, because ultimately it is a fun and different experience.

Oh, and book ahead.

Ristorante Atelier Canova Tadolini

Via del Babuino 150/A

0039 632110702

Blog, Italy, Rome

The Terrace at Hotel Raphael, Rome – DRINK

February 18, 2017
Hotel Raphael, Rome

When in Rome I am forever trying to find new bars, preferably with good views.  The terrace at Hotel Raphael goes to the top of my recommendations.  Even though it was January and fairly chilly, it was so special having this terrace completely to ourselves.  And with it the most stunning 360 degree view of Rome.

Hotel Raphael, Rome

The hotel itself is Relais & Chateaux, and has a wonderful location right behind Piazza Navonna.  I’m not quite sure if I would recommend staying there though – the interiors were modern and I felt lacked taste.  Even the (vegetarian) restaurant on the top floor lacked character or atmosphere, though it has great views.   But the multi-level terrace is something else.  I can imagine it being wonderful in the summer, where you can enjoy a warm summer evening with a cold glass of prosecco or even have dinner outside (the terrace is part of the restaurant).

Hotel Raphael, Rome

A drink with a view like this comes with a premium.  This is not the place for a cheap drink.  A bottle of prosecco will set you back about 36EUR.  But it’s worth it as the staff are wonderful, friendly and warm, and they also brought out some aperitivo.

Hotel Raphael, Rome

Hotel Raphael, Rome

We had a very special time here, and spent a number of hours drinking and enjoying the view. And watching the sun set over the eternal visit.  I would highly recommend a pre-dinner drink here.

The Terrace

Hotel Raphael

Largo Febo, 2


Blog, Italy, Rome

Il Tiaso, Pigneto – DRINK

January 29, 2017
Il Tiaso, Rome

I’m a big fan of wine bars.  This might be because these days all I really tend to drink is red wine, but wine bars appeal for other reasons too.  In my mind it attracts a different kind of person than some swanky cocktail bar, and I’ve never met a wine bar owner I haven’t liked.

And this was very much the case of the super charming Andrea, the owner of Il Tiaso in the hip,  former working class district of Pigneto. We walked into this small but fantastic establishment at around 11pm, and it was, of course, completely full.  But rather than turning us away, Andrea made sure he got us a table.  We may have been a little squashed but we managed to get a perfect tiny table at the back, from which we could observe the rest of the bar perfectly.  We also discussed the area with him, and he shared his favourite restaurants with us (Mimi e Cocozza and Mister Manzo).

Il Tiaso, Rome

A large floor to ceiling wooden book case takes up the majority of the space, and I decided instantly I’d love to have a book case like that at home.  Filled with books and bottles of wine (mainly wine) it added a charm to the place, even the lamps were made out of old wine bottles.  The dim lighting helped create the atmosphere, as well as the fact it was packed with locals.  What was even better is that we weren’t made to feel like we were tourists, when it was fairly obvious we were.

Il Tiaso, Rome

We drank another bottle of Barbera here (as well as some prosecco), which my father when hearing it was only EUR 18, feared would be fairly rubbish.  Wrong.  The wine was very good, and we enjoyed a loud and cheerful evening here.  In the summer there’s a terrace, which I imagine fills up quickly too.

While Pigneto has plenty of bars and cafes to choose from, Il Tiaso won for me, and has become one of my favourite wine bars in Rome.

Il Tiaso 

Via Ascoli Piceno, 25



Blog, Italy, Rome

Primo al Pigneto, Rome – EAT

January 29, 2017
Primo Pigneto, Rome

On my latest visit to Rome we decided to be more adventurous and explore areas outside the Centro Storico (the historical centre).  Last time we had ‘braved it’ for the first time, and taken a taxi to Marzapane, about a 10 – 15 minute taxi ride away from Piazza Navona.  It had been such a success that it gave us confidence to continue exploring Rome’s less central areas.

This time, we started with Pigneto.

Pigneto is an eastern ‘suburb’, though it’s only a 15 minute taxi ride away (or Metro journey) and you could probably compare it to Dalston / Peckham / Hackney in look and feel.  It’s up and coming but technically already ‘up’, all the (hip) restaurants and bars were certainly heaving on the Friday night and while this isn’t really an area you’d come to for sightseeing, if you’re looking for good (and super affordable) food and drinks, then you’ll love it.

The main focus of the area is around the aptly named via del Pigneto, a pedestrianised street lined with vibrant restaurants and bars.  I could easily have stopped to eat at a number of places, but we kept walking until we got to Primo.  While we were pretty much the first people there (at 20:15), it didn’t matter at all. The staff are so charming and welcoming, that you immediately feel at home here.  The interiors are laid back industrial, but with a warmth you tend not to get at places like this.

Primo Pigneto, Rome

We all fell in love with our waiter Leroy (yes, that really was his name), who was beyond helpful and put up with our ridiculous conversations.  And we enjoyed all our food, the highlights being the grilled octopus with horseradish cream to start, and the lemon curd for pudding.  The only dish which was disappointing was the veal sweetbreads with truffle, which were chewy and any taste of truffle was strangely absent.  But the pasta dishes were all excellent, and I liked their original way of doing tiramisu with ice cream.

Primo Pigneto, RomePrimo Pigneto, RomePrimo Pigneto, Rome

The wine menu is wonderfully affordable (we drank an excellent Barbera D’Asti for EUR26 a bottle), and they also have organic wines if that’s your thing (it’s not ours).

And afterwards you can stumble across the street to the wonderful Il Tiaso winebar (or Spirito andCo.So if you want cocktails), and continue to indulge in fantastic Italian wine.

Originally when we got out of the taxi in Pigneto my father asked me why on earth I’d taken him there.  That night he understood why.  And if my Dad can think areas that Pigneto are ‘really cool’, then it’s most definitely a winner.


Via del Pigneto, 46


Andalucia, Blog, Bologna, Croatia, London, Mexico, Mexico City, Prague, Rome, Sicily, Spain, Tulum


January 1, 2017
City Turtle 2016

2016 was another busy year of travel.  I enjoyed a record number of European city breaks (Rome, Prague, Bologna, Istanbul, Marbella, Paris, Amsterdam) and a few brilliant longer trips to Miami, New York, Hvar, Andalucia and Mexico.  Hopefully all my blogs have been useful for those travelling to these destinations.

Here are my favourites of 2016:

Most Spectacular Hotel: Hotel Esencia, Mexico

I promise I’ll stop banging on about this hotel, but this boutique design hotel stands out for me as one of the best places I have ever stayed.  Its stretch of beach is so peaceful, the sand so white and the sea gloriously turquoise. The rooms are white washed, minimalist and super comfortable.  Morning yoga is the best way to start the day there, followed by a delicious healthy breakfast.  It’s no wonder Conde Nast voted it as one of 2016’s best hotels.

Esencia, Mexico

Runner up: Finca Cortesin (and I shockingly still have not written a blog about this place).  Hands down one of Europe’s most beautiful properties, high in the hills 30 minutes from Marbella, with sea and mountain views.  The interiors are so elegant, the swimming pools vast and the spa to die for.

Finca Cortesin, Spain

Favourite new discovery: South East Sicily

A week of exploring all the Baroque-rich towns and cities of South Eastern Sicily is such a treat.  Each of the towns, from Ragusa to Modica to Note are all so individual, with good restaurants, a few fun bars, and lots of pretty streets to explore.  Our seafood lunch at Taverna Cialoma in Marzamemi was one of the big highlights of our trip.  And we learnt that the very underestimated city Catania is also worth a stop.

Ragusa, Sicily

Favourite new London restaurant: Foley’s

With so many restaurant openings in London this year, it’s hard to pick a favourite.  But everything from the divine alfresco bar (with the best Espresso Martinis), to a menu where you literally want to eat every dish (and we did), to the friendly, helpful staff, meant that Foley’s wins the 2016 prize.  A place I know I’ll return to, again and again.

Foleys, FItzrovia

Runner up: The Ninth and Clipstone.  Both of these relatively new openings in London have a lot in common: excellent food, reasonable pricing and great atmosphere.  The Pain Perdu at the Ninth is the best pudding I’ve had this year.

The Ninth, Fitzrovia

Favourite Bar – International: The Living Room, at the Faena, Miami

Wow, the new(ish) Faena hotel in Miami is a true showstopper, rich in colour and gold and opulence.  And walking into its main bar, The Living Room, is like stepping into Gatsby’s 1920s.  I loved every moment of being in this crazy, vibrant, colourful place, where you don’t know where to look or which cocktail to pick from their indulgent menu.  The Faena’s restaurant Pao was also a highlight of my visit.

Photo credit:

Runner up:  The Bar at the Baccarat Hotel, New York. This hotel is so fantastically blingy, as of course you’d expect considering the owners.  It’s a stunning hotel (the rooms are far more toned down than the public areas), but the bar really stood out.  It’s always packed with very glamorous people, the cocktails are fantastic and the interiors are fabulous.

Photo credit Baccarat Hotels

Favourite English Countryside retreat: Foxhill Manor, the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds is one of my favourite areas of England; the countryside is so breathtakingly beautiful here and the villages are all so picturesque, with so many pretty Cotswold stone cottages, lovely cafes and restaurants and fantastic country walks.  So staying at the exclusive five star Foxhill Manor (Dormy House’s sister property) was one of the highlights of 2016, the ultimate country house hotel.  The food was amazing here, our suite the size of my house in London, and the views of the Cotswolds out of this world.

Foxhill Manor, Cotswolds

Favourite Restaurant – International: Quintonil, Mexico City

Chosen not because it’s voted as the 12th best restaurant in the world, but purely because it was a magical experience, and I’ve never had Mexican food like it.  It’s incredible value for money, and the amuse bouches we had here were some of the best I’ve had.  That said, its Mexico City competitor Pujol deserves a mention too, also for its creative food and noteworthy tasting menu.

Quintonil, Mexico City

Runners up:  This is such a tough one, as I have eaten at some seriously wonderful restaurants this year.  Still, if I had to choose, I loved Marzapane in Rome because it is was so different, so modern and so un-Roman.  At the same time, Sansho’s tasting menu in Prague was exceptional, and fantastic value.  And last but not least, Dalmatino in Hvar, Croatia was unexpected and their squid ink truffle gnocchi mind-blowing.

Marzapane, Rome

Favourite beach: Tulum, Mexico

Who knew Mexico’s Riviera Maya had such incredible beaches?  The beach at Tulum is possibly the most perfect beach I’ve been on.  Lined with palm trees and eco hotels (no building is higher than the tallest palm tree), white powdery sand and warm welcoming turquoise waves, it really is a paradise beach.  Plus, it stretches on and on, and makes for the best walk at sunset, Margarita in hand.  Especially the beach at Nomade (photo below) was phenomenal.

Tulum, Mexico

Runners up: Dubovica Beach on Hvar, Croatia and South Beach, Miami.  These two beaches couldn’t be more different, but each has it’s own bit of wow.  Dubovica beach is small, pebbled and one of the prettiest European beaches I’ve seen.  It has a lovely beach bar too and it’s generally not too full of tourists.  South Beach Miami is of course heaving with people, but that doesn’t stop it from being ‘wow’ in its own way.  It’s one of the most fun beaches I’ve been to, great for people watching, with so much going on.

Dubovica Beach, HvarMiami Beach

Favourite Afternoon tea: Petersham Nurseries

I don’t know how I only managed to visit this heavenly place until so recently, but I fell head over heals for Petersham Nurseries.  Even on a cold (but beautiful) winter afternoon the Cafe was so warm and cosy, the cakes so delicious and the selection of teas ideal.  I can’t wait to return in the spring and the summer.

Photo Credit:

Favourite city break: Prague

People warned me that yes, the city is beautiful, but it’s touristy and the food isn’t good.  Well, yes, I’d agree that’s it’s busy, but it’s hard to avoid tourists these days.  And, after all, I’m one too.  But I’d disagree that you can’t eat well.  One of my favourite restaurants of the year, Sansho, was here.  Plus Field was excellent too, as was CottoCrudo at the Four Seasons.  There’s lots to do and see, and it’s incredibly affordable too.  Win win.


Runner up was Bologna, with so much charm and beauty, and excellent Italian food and wine.  Our experience at Drogheria della Rosa was absolutely one of the most memorable of 2016.

Drogheria della Rossa, Bologna

And what has 2017 got in store for me?  Definitely more European city breaks, with Rome and Stockholm already booked, a trip back to Andalucia and Italy this summer for sure, and Mallorca in September.  I’d also really like to return to Vienna, explore Porto and maybe go to some of the Greek islands…  Let’s see where 2017 takes me!

Blog, Italy, Rome

Relais Rione Ponte, Rome – STAY

August 22, 2016
Relais Rione Ponte, Rome

Rome isn’t known for it’s hotels.  It doesn’t have a George V equivalent.  There are no Mandarin Orientals or Amans  But what Rome is good at, is its boutique hotels.   I love JK Place, Palazzo Manfredi and the newest (and most modern) G Rough.  Relais Rione Ponte is one I came across most recently, and had the absolute pleasure at staying at.

It’s not really a hotel, it’s a guest house.  It doesn’t boast many facilities or a restaurant, but Relais Rione Ponte is perfect as a base to explore Rome.  So here is what it does have:


Couldn’t be better, a stone’s throw from Piazza Navona and all the other historical centre sights.  We in fact woke up at 6am and walked through Rome as it was waking up, a magical experience and highly recommended.  While Relais Rione Ponte is so central, it was very quiet in the rooms and we were not disturbed by late party animals.

Piazza NavonaRome

Stylish Rooms

As there isn’t much of a ‘central’ area it’s important that the rooms are good, and spacious.  Which they really are.  The beds are super comfortable and massive, the sheets crisp and we had a very good sleep here.  The attention to detail was fantastic: the art on the walls, the Bose sound system, a Nespresso machine in the public area, very good wifi.  The bathroom was beautifully designed, with a huge walk in shower and lovely Nuxe bath products.

Relais Rione Ponte, RomeRelais Rione Ponte, Rome


Our initial experience was not great.  We arrived very late so understandably the host had gone home, and the man on night duty for the whole building was a little odd to say the least.  However, once we got to our room we were greeted by a bottle of bubbles which was more than welcome.  The lady at reception the following morning was nothing but friendly, as was the lady who served us breakfast.  We had a nice but not spectacular breakfast (but excellent coffee, of course) but you could tell that they really cared about their guests, and have city maps at the ready should you want some tips on what to do and see in Rome.

Relais Rione Ponte, Rome

Value for money

Rome is no Venice, but it’s not cheap either.  Finding accommodation this central, where the standard is this high, is difficult.  With small touches like a complimentary glass of prosecco every evening, Nespresso when you want it, good wifi and excellent bath products, it’s really good value for money.

Double rooms from £120 per night

Relais Rione Ponte

Via Giuseppe Zanardelli, 20,

00186 Roma

Photo Credit: Relais Rione Ponte

Blog, Italy, Rome

Roscioli, Rome – EAT

March 25, 2016

When I lived in Rome, six years ago now, we used to walk past Roscioli all the time.  And sometimes pop in and buy something delicious from the Deli.  But we never ate here.

When I returned in January, the delightful Bellini Travel recommended I try it for lunch.  And wow, what a lunch we had.  A table overflowing with delectable antipasto.

The stuffed oxtail stew courgette flowers deserve a paragraph of their own.  I’ve eaten a lot of courgette flowers in my time.  I love battered courgette flowers, stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy (they do these brilliantly at La Quercia).  But this was in a league of its own.

Roscioli, Rome

The service is hit and miss here, perhaps a little typically Roman.  Their pastas looked amazing, but we stuck to fat balls of creamy burrata with baby dry tomatoes, large plates of cured meats (their prosciutto is insane) and a wintery salad of artichokes, carrots and rocket, washed down with a crisp dry white wine.

Photo by

This was our first meal in Rome of the weekend, and what a perfect introduction to our favourite city.  After lunch here make sure you visit Piazza Mattei and see the Fontana della Tartarughe (turtle fountain), and afterwards wander around the Jewish Ghetto, check out the colossal French Embassy (also known as Piazza Farnese) on Piazza Farnese and walk down Via Guilia.  It’s a wonderful part of the city.


Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22

Photo credit: my own and

Blog, Italy, Rome

The best Brunch places in Rome

March 25, 2016
Coromandel, Rome

Romans don’t really do brunch.  An espresso for €1, standing at the bar perhaps, or a quick pastry on the go.  Brunch is not really a ‘thing’ in Rome, nothing like the craze in London.  But in the past years the city has started adapting to tourists needs and wants, and brunch is right up there.  Still, manage your own expectations as the standard is not near what you’d expect in New York or London.

Here are some of my favourite brunch hangouts in Rome:

LA. VI. LATTERIA & VINERIA for the buffet

Via Tomacelli, 23

Arguably more a lunch than a brunch place, but brilliant for its €20 per person all you can eat brunch.  Ideal if you’re not quite sure what you feel like, as they have everything from pasta to incredible salads, meats and vegetables.  Definitely leave space for pudding, as they have stacks of pancakes, incredible tiramisu and cheesecake.  They have a huge terrace/balcony which is clearly the place to sit when the weather is good (January was a little too cold).  Inside the interiors are attractive, with high ceilings and quirky touches.  Apparently also quite fun for cocktails in the evening.

La. Vi. RomeLa. Vi. Rome


COROMANDEL – for your traditional brunch

Via di Monte Giordano, 60

This is probably you’re best bet if you’re looking for a traditional brunch.  They offer everything from pastries, to pancakes to eggs in all kinds and forms.  However, before you get all excited to see Eggs Benedict on the menu, I’d strongly avoid this option.  They just can’t get it right, trust me.  What they do do very well are juices, coffee and pastries.  The pain au chocolat was fresh and still warm.  The pancakes with berry coulis were simple, but good too (and huge portion). The place itself is very centrally located and cute, a cosy place to start the day.

Coromandel, RomeCoromandel, Rome


ACTIVE NATURAL EATING – for the healthy brunch

Piazza di Pietra, 62

Rome is all about pasta and pizza, and bottles of excellent red wine.  Healthy juices aren’t first on your agenda.  But should you want a health boost, head here.  Here you can enjoy a huge range of juices and smoothies, as well as salads and soups, bowls of fruit and healthy snacks.  It’s well done and a nice place to sit and relax, or grab something for on the go.

Active Natural Eating, Rome


PLATZ GRAND BISTROT – for brunch on a piazza

Piazza Sant’ Eustacio, 54

We came across this place during our wanderings through ‘centro storico’ and I liked the large terrace of the quiet Piazza Sant’ Eustacio.  We had excellent cappuccinos, juices and croissants and enjoyed watching Rome go by.  The interiors are contemporary, and it’s a good place to sit to read the newspapers they offer.  The service is slow, but it was a busy Sunday morning.  I’m not sure about the rest of the food, but if you’re looking for a simple breakfast then it’s perfect.

Platz Grand Bistrot, Rome


Blog, Italy, Rome

Maccheroni, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016

I’ve walked past this restaurant so many times, mainly because it is next to my favourite date restaurant Casa Coppelle. On Saturday evening we walked past Maccheroni after dinner at the excellent Marzapane (a taxi away), and noted how many locals were spilling out of it, and how cosy it looked.

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
So for Sunday lunch (and with pasta cravings continuing), we decided to try it.

The place is deceptively huge. The upstairs area looks fairly modest, but we were led downstairs through one (full) room after another. It’s quite amazing how many little rooms there are under curved brick arches. Wine bottles line shelves on the walls.  It is a cosy place, but not a glamorous one. We sat next a huge Roman family, who devoured course after course washed down with lots of red wine. They reminded me of a slightly less beautiful version of those D&G adverts.

Maccheroni, Rome
It’s the vibe here that’s so wonderful. The service is brisk and friendly. People are happy.  As were we, as the pastas, while not necessarily delicate, were delicious. I shared a creamy ravioli with zucchini flowers (why we don’t have them more in the UK God knows), and a truffle linguini (which you can smell as you enter).

Maccheroni, RomeMaccheroni, Rome
And then, after a quick espresso, we headed to a cab and drove to the airport.  A great way to end another epic weekend in Rome.

NB Note they don’t serve pizza here.  Yes, we were disappointed too.  But trust me, the pasta makes up for it.


Piazza delle Coppelle, 49,

00186 Roma

Blog, Italy, Rome

Taverna Trilussa, Rome – EAT

February 28, 2016
Taverna Trilussa, Rome

I’m never sure about taking restaurant recommendations from five star hotels, as find they often recommend expensive, pretentious restaurants which never go down well with me. But when JK Place recommended Taverna Trilussa in Trastevere (just across the bridge from Piazza Farnese), I was confident we were going to enjoy it.

If you’re looking for an upmarket local taverna, with excellent food and jolly, professional service, Trilussa is your place. Their signature is serving their (large array of) pasta dishes in a pan. The portion are ridiculously huge.  My pan of moorish gnocchi was so large that by the time I’d got half way I was so full even the thought of panna cotta was off putting (obviously after a short rest, we ordered multiple panna cottas).  

If you order just the ‘primi’ dishes (effectively the carb options – pasta, risotto and gnocchi), the prices are surprisingly low for such a well-known establishment.  Their wines too, are reasonable, even some of their Piedmonte wines.  They have a huge terrace which is covered and heated in the winter, and they’ll give you rugs to keep you warm. The guests are mostly Italians and some tourists; a nice mixture.

And when dinner is over you can grab a cocktail at the very trendy and completely different Coffee Pot (bizarrely serving tacos, sushi and mezcal – sounds terrible, is great).  Or head back across the bridge to the Camponeschi on Piazza Farnese for a cocktail or glass of wine.

Taverna Trilussa

Via del Politeama, 23 – 25

Blog, Italy, Rome

Etabli, Rome – DRINK

February 14, 2016
Etabli, Rome

It’s unusual that I find a place I love while on a city break which I have not researched in advance. I’m not very good at being spontaneous, and am also quite bad at giving places I don’t know or have not heard of ‘a chance’.

But when we passed Etabli and I had a look inside, it looked so appealing, so welcoming with a fire place in the corner and a sitting room-esque vibe that we decided to try it for pre-dinner drinks. My sister Jo ended up loving it so much she wanted to return at every opportunity.

Etabli, Rome
This lovely place is perfect for afternoon drinks, or cocktails or even dinner. It’s quite a large open space, with distressed decor, and sofas and comfy armchairs in the corners.  The seats by the fireplace are unsurprisingly the most popular. The bar is spacious and the cocktail list diverse (the Espresso Martini was excellent).  During the day it’s very laid back, it’s ideal to come here after a day of sightseeing in the late afternoon to relax with a book and a cappuccino (or glass of wine).

Etabli, Rome
It definitely livens up in the evening. As we were leaving they were preparing all the tables for dinner. A DJ was also getting ready.  As we didn’t have dinner here, I’m not sure how good the food is.  We did order a platter of antipasti which we enjoyed: a bulgar wheat salad, bruschetta and cold meats.  They offer brunch on the weekends too.

What’s close? Bar del Fico and Cafe Della Pace are around the corner, as is Piazza Navona.  But if you want a place to sit and chat in relative peace and quiet, Etabli certainly gives you that option.


Vicolo delle Vacche, 9/9A,

00186 Rome

Photo credit: Etabli

Blog, Italy, Rome

Marzapane, Rome – EAT

February 9, 2016
Marzapane, Rome

Rome has some fantastic restaurants.  My favourite for a long time was Casa Coppelle, and it is still one of the loveliest restaurants for a date in Rome.  I’m also a fan of some of the more traditional, proper ‘local’ places, like La Quercia, Maccheroni and Taverna Trilussa.  However, I recently read about Marzapane, a restaurant not in the ‘centro storico’ like the rest, but in the more residential Rome.  Having lived in Rome for a year, I’d never actually been here and so I persuaded the family to bundle into a cab and take the short 15 minute ride across town.

The initial hesitation of leaving the beloved historical centre was abandoned upon walking into this wonderful place.  It is very different to most Roman restaurants.  The interiors are bordering on Scandi, but without being too minimalist.  There is plenty of light wood and the design is simple, but it’s cosy and welcoming and yes, stylish.  Small touches like little wooden chairs for your bag (or your dog, I was thinking) are welcome.  Wine bottles stacked in the wall add more warmth.

Marzapane, Rome

And then comes the food. If you’re hungry, go for the tasting menu at EUR39 for five courses.  It’s a steal.  We decided to just choose a starter, main and pudding.  Choosing was the tough part.  The carpaccio with an Asian twist was a hit with my father who normally doesn’t even really like Asian, the prawn tartare with burrata was fresh and unique (and I loved the pistachio biscuit). The vegetable starter was also a surprising hit (they’re really into the word Crucifer in Rome), we’re not sure how they got the cauliflower cream like they did.

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

And the main courses were equally delightful.  The carbonara was more delicious and heavier than any we have tasted before.  The lamb with a Mexican hit (chilli), was so tender and delicious, even the fat was a joy to eat. The roe egg linguini was another treat.

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

Pudding maintained the high standard, as did the petite fours which came with the coffee in a remarkable dish.  By which point none of us could fit anything more in our mouthes (meanwhile I’m writing this hungry and wishing we’d eaten them all).

Marzapane, RomeMarzapane, RomeMarzapane, Rome

And the wines we had were all different, all wonderful (and Italian of course – mostly either Sicilian or form Piedmonte), and all very reasonably priced.  My Dad did see a Gaja on the menu but the EUR200 price tag kept that one at bay.  Next time.

So, bottom line.  It is worth parting form the historical centre, and taking a 15 minute (10 euro) taxi across town.  It is also worth booking ahead, as this is apparently one of the most popular restaurants in town (it was completely full when we dined).  For me, it was fine dining without the ridiculous price tag, and I’d recommend it to all.


Via Velletri 39


Phone: +39 06 6478 1692

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