The Best in Rome
Rome Restaurants: INTERNATIONAL CUISINE
In Japanese, Dooso means “please come in, make yourself at home.” Owners, Tetsuya Ojure, a music producer and Riccardo Vuzzanca, a scenographer, who also stages special events such as the Venice Film Festival, have created a sense of virtual movement, squaring off each area in the dining room into distinct spaces. The restaurant’s director, Pascal, has added decorous arrangements of Japanese artifacts — teapots, ceramics and other wares — to the minimalist architecture. A reading room displaying a purchasable selection of art books serves as a relaxation area and buffer between the restaurant and an exhibition space. A corridor leads to a zenlike garden patio enclosed behind remnants of an ancient Roman retaining wall. The fixed-price box lunches include tempura or ginger-seasoned fried chicken and sushi, rice, salad, perfectly textured miso soup and the freshest tofu we’ve ever eaten . The dinner menu adds more variations on the same theme.
Via Palermo, 51-53 tel 06 481 56 55 Closed Monday (Monti) €€
You’ll feel as welcome as an invited guest in this four-level complex, comprising a restaurant, tea house and boutique, where you can eat, drink and shop in an atmosphere designed according to the ancient concepts of Feng Shui. The proprietors, both ex-journalists, warmly greet their guests and engage in geo-cultural conversation while effortlessly explaining the execution and art of Chinese tea. At lunch, a selection of traditional Chinese box meals are reasonably priced, quick and delicious. At dinner, more time is needed to savor the exquisite cuisine of Hong Kong chef, Jimmy Yan, whose offerings derive from seven schools of Chinese gastronomy. We recommend any of the dishes in which duck is the protagonist, as well as the turtle soup with cat fish spine, shark fin soup, oysters prepared four different ways, fried medusa and raw tuna, rice flan with sweet salami from Xiang Chang, crunchy tagliolini with seafood and an array of Dian Xin (dim sum), dumplings ranging from salty to steamed to fried. For dessert, try the home baked biscuits served with tea. Several dining areas are furnished with Chinese antiques, and a small garden is available for private events. The boutique on the lower level offers Chinese-inspired clothing, interesting teas, antiques, books and CDs.
Via Di Pie di Marmi, 28 tel. 06 679 8628 Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. (Pantheon) €€
The menu displayed outside is in Japanese, and the tables inside are populated by natives of Japan, all proof of the authenticity of this restaurant, an offshoot of its Tokyo counterpart. Way beyond the usual sushi bar, this is perhaps the best Japanese food in town, served in a pleasant atmosphere.
Via della Mercede 35/36 tel.06.679 2134 Closed Monday. (near Piazza San Silvestro, Historic Center) €€ to €€€
Ristorante Giapponese Rokko
Rokko has a well-deserved reputation as one of Rome's best Japanese restaurants, opened in 1991 by Hiroko Sasaki and her husband Toru, and recently transfered to this new location in the Passaggiatta di Ripetta.. The menu incudes the classic Japanese dishes as well as dishes original to the restaurant, created by Takehisa Haraguchi, a graduate of the best cooking school in Japan, and a veteran of Japans finest restaurants. The main dining room looks onto a small garden where the contrast of patterns and light interplay. Meticulously planted dwarf hedge bushes and bamboo plants are set among irregularly sculpted stones and pebbled paths, while the sound of rushing water accents the zen-like atmosphere pervasive throughout.
Passeggiata Di Ripeta 15 (near Piazza del Popolo) tel 06 322 3414 €€€
Hours 12-2:30 pm and 7-10:30 pm closed Sundays www.ristoranterokko.com
This restaurant has only been open a few months but it already attracts lines of customers on weekends, and many of the tables are filled by Japanese, who know good sushi from bad. We were impressed with both the quality and prices. A mixed sushi platter, at about 21 euro, was enough for two, fresh and varied, with a nicely spiced rice filling. In addition to sushi, there's a selection of traditional Japaense dishes. Try the eggplant as a side dish, it's amazing.
Viale Trastevere 4 tel 06 581 0075 (Trastevere) €€
Considered by many to be one of the city's top Japanese restaurants, the menu here goes beyond sushi to all sorts of traditional dishes. It's the first place in Rome to have a kaiten. Patrons sit around a circular bar, while before them a variety of plates glide by in a sort of moveable buffet. Take what you like and the waitress will count up the empty plates when you're ready to pay the tab. A branch of the popular Zen Sushi Milano.
Open for lunch except Saturdays, and dinner every night. Closed Mondays, August and part of December.
Via degli Scipioni 243 tel 06 321 3420 (Prati) €€€
A tiny but very pleasant little restaurant, recently opened in Trastevere, with a Thai chef in the kitchen, offering your favorite dishes. We love the Pad Thai, the crispy spring rolls without a trace of extra fat, the curries, and for desert, bananas baked in a light pasty crust and then drizzled with chocolate. Wash it down with Thai beer, or choose from the very wine list. The service couldn't be friendlier.
Via Garibaldi 60 (Trastevere) tel 393 2408892
Not just Balinese food, but Vietnamese and other Asian cuisines. The menu changes every two weeks or so, with a choice of two prix fixe options, one no more expensive than a pizza, the other a five-course extravaganza at a great price. The very talented chef, Ton, is original from Viet Nam, but grew up in Italy. The decor is very atmospheric, with bamboo walls, and Asian artifacts. The restaurant is quiet and cozy, but the real action is in the bar, a warren of little rooms (one of them for smokers) and platforms with interesting arrangements of couches and pillows. The place is mobbed after dinner until the wee hours, with young Italian couples, many of whom appear to be madly in love. The cocktail menu is an awesome, pages long affair with an international selection of beers as well as an exotic selection of mixed drinks. Via del Mattonato 29 (Trastevere) tel 06 589 6089 €
Run by the Nguyen family for nearly 30 years, serving typical Vietnamese dishes in a pleasant setting.
Via Giulia 208 tel 06 683 07832 (near Campo de' Fiori) €€
Friends who should know rate this the best Indian restaurant in Rome. The place is usual full of Indian natives, attesting to the authenticity of the cuisine. With a tandoori oven and a selection of curries and other traditional dishes.
Via di Santa Cecilia 8 (Trastevere) tel 06 581 8508 rajdhaniroma.com
Authentic traditional dishes served in an attractive atmosphere. Wide selection of excellent dishes from their tandoori oven.
A favorite of those who have spent time in India.
Via Labianca 29 (near the Coliseum) tel 06 7000 4306 Open every day www.gourmindiaroma.com
Recently re-opened, this spacious restaurant has sidewalk tables in the warm months. We go there for the vegetarian and non-vegetarian tasting menus, a long parade of dishes for two people, but more than enough to serve three!
Via San Francesco di Ripa 56 (Trastevere)
tel 06 580 3992 www.ristorantejaipur.com
An elegant atmosphere, serving tandoor oven specialties. In warm weather, the restaurant's lovely garden provides one of the best settings in town for outdoor dining, candlelit and tranquil, yet just steps away from the bustle of Piazza Trilussa. €€
Via di Ponte Sisto, 67 (Piazza Trilussa) tel 06 589 4554 Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday. www.ristorantesuryamahal.com
A princely presence in the hills above the Coliseum, Mahajarah offers good service and classic Punjab cuisine. The cozy dining room is decorated with Indian paintings and sculpture and hand-painted furnishings. Specialities include chicken Maharajah tandoori, chicken tikka masata (herbs and spices), vandaloo lamb, and an easy favorite, rogan josh, lamb with herbs served with spinach cooked with potatoes al curry. If you have a weakness for Italian ceci (chick peas), try the pakora, (mixed vegetables rolled in ceci flour). Choose from ten different Indian breads and several varieties of basmati rice. Among the desserts, kulfi (pistacchio ice cream) is a particularly refreshing after a spicy meal.
Via dei Serpenti, 124 (Monti) tel. 06 474 7144 Open daily 12:30.-23:30 Closed Saturday and Sunday lunch. www.maharajah-roma.com
We, who are spoiled by years of eating in Mexico itself, and even more years of eating authentic Mexican food in Southern California, have never been satisfied by the offerings of so-called Mexican restaurants in Europe and elsewhere. The ingredients are simply not available here in Rome. That said, even our Mexican-American friends are happy at this pretty little place. On Friday afternoons, when there is a generous apperitivi buffet on offer, the tables are filled with the crowd from the offices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, which is just down the street. On the menu you'll find approximations of your favorites. The guacamole bore no resemblance to the rich avocado dip you may remember, but the empañadas and other items, while not actually Mexican, are quite delicious.
Via Aventino 83, tel 06 572 89947 €€
Just a moment's walk from the Cipro Metro stop, a little corner of Mexico in Rome, decorated in cright blues, pinks, and greens while latin music wafts through the air. With margaritas and a range of Mexican beers on tap, La Cucaracha offers a full array of Mexican cuisine from nachos and tamales, to empanadas and churros. We recommend the house special, the Tacos La Cucaracha, which come with three toppings - smokey beef, spicy pork, and mild chicken. Closed on Sundays.
Via Mocenigo, 10a (at Via Candia) tel 06 397 46373 www.lacucaracha.it €
Charreada Café y Grill
This café is a favorite among American jonesing for Tex-Mex. It's more about the margheritas than the food, which is, however, quite decent. Three small rooms are decorated in Mexican saloon style. Tacos, tortillas, as well as South American empañadas.
Piazza del Quiriti 4 (Prati) tel 06 360 00009 €
Chef Luca Nicodemo came to Rome 36 years of cooking in Spain. He makes all kinds of of paella — with just fish, with just vegetables, just meat, with shrimps and garlic, or for lovers of spicy dishes, the special flamenco, with hot peppers. There's also a selection of pizzas, and to drink, an imagintive variety of sangrias as well as wines and beers. The atmosphere is comfortable, with old brick arches dividing the space and checkered tablecloths. La Paella will organize events for up to 100 people at the restaurant, complete with flamenco dancers, and from time to time, special flamenco shows are organized for the public, beginning at ten pm. In the bar, they play all the Rome-Lazio games on Sky TV.
Two locations, just around the corner from each other in Trastevere.
Vicolo della Luce 3-5 and Via della Gensola 58A tel 06 583 31179 www.lapaella2.com €€
Corso Rinascimento 1 (Piazza Navona) tel 06 686 0293 Also at via Cavour 315
Baires is a nickname for Buenos Aires, an Argentine restaurant for meat lovers, with typical Argentine dishes like Angus beef brochette, grilled meats, empañadas, sausages, shrimps in avocado sauce and wines from the vineyards of Argentina's Mendoza and Salta provinces. The decor in reds and dark woods attempts to replicate the atmosphere of 1940s Buenos Aires' La Boca district. €€
Not a restaurant, but a small take away shop too good to omit. The food is simply cheap and delicious. Chicken, eggplant, chick pea and rice dishes, terrific Egyptian flat bread, cous cous. We get a bunch of dishes and throw a party, or stop on our way home when there's nothing in the fridge. Open late. Via Natale del Grande, 17 (near Piazza San Cosimato, Trastevere). 06 581 9863 €
Shisha & Kebab
Loaded with Lebanese atmosphere, this little spot is decorated with cushioned banquets in authentic style. The cuisine is traditional Lebanese, but that's not all. Your meal is accompanied by traditional music, and after your meal, a cup of thick Lebanese coffee, after which you can have the grounds read to predict your future, and perhaps finish off with a drag on a traditional water pipe (flavored tobacco only). Belly dancing courses are also offered here.
Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, 165 (Trastevere) tel 389 051 4689
Open from 11 am to 3 am.
Delicious Syrian and Lebanese food in an evocative setting, with colorful cushions and low lighting. No alcohol, but a variety of teas and yogurt drinks, tabouley, eggplant, fatush and other typical dishes.
Via del Pellegrino 56 (Campo de' Fiori) €
This cozy spot is a cultural center as much as it is a restaurant. Furnished with an eclectic collection of natural woods, oversized pillows, and images of 70's pop icons, it's not only one of the few places in Rome's where you can find macrobiotic cooking, it's also a source for shiatsu massages (the first one is free), yoga, Tai-chi and cooking classes, as well as roundtables on philosophy, art and music. The reasonably priced vegan menu includes a delicious banana nut cake made without eggs or butter — you have to taste it to believe it. And the organic beer is produced by the only female brew master in Italy. Visit their website for more details.
Via Mattonato, 42 (Trastevere) tel 06 581 0626 www.tidiro.net €
If you really, seriously miss the Sizzler back in the good ol' US of A, these restaurants are for you: burgers, steaks, onion rings, buffalo wings, corn on the cub and stuffed potato skins, nachos, Oreo pie, New York cheesecake. Three Rome locations: Via F Crispi 29 tel 06 678 7650 (near Piazza Barberini, Via Sistina); Via di San Dorotea 21 tel 06 588 2079 (Trastevere) Via Flaminia Vecchia 525/527 tel 33 3297 (near Corso Francia). €
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In Rome Now Travel Guide: Restaurants Rome, Italy, Ethnic