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May 09, 2009 at 09:17 PM

Piazza del Popolo
As has already been said, nowadays the Piazza di Spagna-Tridente area - stretching from Piazza del Popolo to Via del Tritone - is not the major neighborhood destination to which Romans flock when they go out to eat at night. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some fine eating places here where one might want to go before or after an evening movie or before or after a day of vigourous shopping. This article includes a series of reviews which will be published this week in Wanted in Rome.

                                      But keep checking back as, from time to time, others will be added.


Hotel Hassler, 6th floor. Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6,

                                           tel. 06 699340

Image The recently refurbished rooftop restaurant of the Hotel Hassler, with its magnificent view (thus the restaurant's name) of the central Rome is beyond a doubt the best upscale dining spot in the Tridente and only last November received its first star from the famed Michelin Guide. This is largely the doing of Neapolitan chef Francesco Apreda whose original and creative menus include dishes such as breaded scallops stuffed with mozzarella, celery and black truffles, potato gnocchi filled with burrata and olives, fusilli with quail ragu, filet of bass with beans and shallots and an eggplant-ginger sauce or delicious desserts such as cannoli with marscapone and pistachio. Wow!
Francesco Apreda

But this is not all. The Imàgo experience includes a warm, sensual and elegant décor. And the service is excellent, with maitre, sommelier and waiters all a testimony to the fact that friendly, diligent, well-informed cleancut and capable young Italian men are not entirely a thing of the past.

ImageMake no mistake, Imàgo is expensive. 
A fabulous dinner for two can run around €250. Open daily for dinner (7:30 to 11pm)  and Sunday brunch (12:30 to 3pm). €65 per person, without drinks


Ristorante Mario

Via della Vite 55, tel. 066783818

ImageMario Mariani, alas, is no more, having passed away in March. But the 50 year-old tradition of this excellent and welcoming Tuscan trattoria are being carried on magnificently by son, Andrea, who daily grows more and more to look like a taller version of his once black-haired dad - minus the amazing eyebrows. The photos on the walls bear testimony to this eatery's long-standing popularity with Italian politicians and movie stars and we ourselves can bear personal witness to its past reputation as a late-night hangout for working journalists, foreign and Italian.

The food ties for first place with the welcoming atmosphere. Unusual for Rome, here you can get an authentic ribollita (Tuscan bread and bean soup) or pappa al pomodoro and excellent Tuscan fagioli  (beans) in a variety of forms. The antipasti - crostini, salumi and so on - are enticing, the pastas original - orecchiette with beet tops and beans shares the menu with the more traditional pappardelle al sugo di lepre. And there is Florentine pot roast (stracotto), brasato, and wild boar stew, here called spezzatino. Boar filet with a blueberry sauce and polenta is mouth-watering and the house Chianti is much more than just drinkable.

Closed Sundays. Average price per person €35--€45.



Piazza Augusto Imperatore 7/9, tel.

ImageWhere are we? New York, Seattle? No, it's Rome where yuppies and foreigners together have welcomed this amazing and untypical Italian gastronomic center. Gusto (located facing the still disgracefully untended Mausoleum of the Emperor Augustus), is spread out over an entire city block and small wonder. For spread-out complex includes four separate restaurants; the informal, street-level pizzeria plus and the more upscale restaurant upstairs with an Italian/fusion menu at the main, Largo Augusto Imperatore address (where there is also an enoteca as well as a cookware emporium that sells a range of jams, honey, biscuits, chocolates and sauces). Around the corner at N.28 is a brand-new veggie and fish restaurant with a flashingly white ship décor. And a half block away at at Via della Frezza 16, is an Osteria with a more traditional Mediterranean cuisine, attached to which you find the fromagerie and, at n. 23, a cozy wine bar with many evenings of live music. The food is good, the atmosphere lively while prices, hours and telephone numbers differ.

Open daily 12.45-15.00 & 19.45-24.00. See for additional info.


Via Margutta 1-3, tel. 063211559

Inspired by the well-known 1987 Danish film, "Babette's Feast", this delightfully different restaurant at the northern end of Via Margutta will be a welcome change for those who are tired of overly traditional Italian eating places. The décor - roughly painted walls, exposed pipes etc - is intriguing and the affordable (though not cheap) food is the best a modern Italian restaurant can offer.

ImageAt Babette's you can have breakfast, lunch (try the €10, exluding wine, buffet or the €25 weekend brunches) and the food ranges from very good to downright exciting. Examples: Among the starters broccoletti and brie "meatballs" and fried sardines stuffed with spicy chees. Pastas may include luscious tortiglioni with zucchini, saffron and pistachio pesto and "risotto" croquettes fois gras and a white truffle sauce. There is a daily array of filling soups and salads. And main courses choices range from Grilled fillet with basil sauce,a compote of Tropea onion and potatoes "au gratin"to Polpette di Brasato al Nebbiolo Braised beef croquettes in a Nebbiolo wine sauce. The deserts are yummy so if you're on a diet ignore them.

ImageOpen daily. Average à la carte price per person, including wine, is €35 to €45. Reserve for al fresco dining in the "piazzetta".


Margutta RistorArte

Via Margutta 118, tel.0632650577

ImageAlso off the well-trodden gourmet track is Il Margutta RistorArte, opened way back in 1979 when the words vegetarian and vegan (yes, there is a Vegan menu here) were rarely uttered in Rome, a place where ancient cookery tomes spoke of meat, meat and more meat, from stuffed deer to (yes, it's true) grilled dormouse! Anyone who thinks vegetarian means boring should try this place where the menus - which change by the season - are inventive and mouth-watering.Image

Like Babette, right across the street, MarguttaRistorArte offers a special "eat as much as you like" €25 brunch on Sundays and holidays. During the week,  Mondays to Satudays,  there is a lunchtime Green Brunch where customers can choose one mixed plate, a soup, a desert, a fruit cup, water, bread and American coffee for only€ 15,00 a person.

Open daily for lunch and dinner (when reservations are suggested)


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