If you’re looking for an African restaurant in Rome, I’d like to recommend Ristorante Eritrea in the city’s Ostiense district, in walking distance of the Piramide Metro stop.
This authentic project is the brainchild of chef Ghedam, who opened Eritrea Restaurant in 2014, with a plan to bring a taste of Eritrea to Rome. In doing so, he has also captured his personal history, memories and food lore in an incredible menu.
Ristorante Eritrea is a rare example of an African restaurant combining Eritrean and Ethiopian cuisine. This is because years of conflict have sadly meant that the two cultures rarely met over the dinner table. Although Ghedam is Eritrean, his passion and interest in Ethiopian cuisine saw him study and travel to unite both cultures in the menu of Eritrea Restaurant, creating a unique African restaurant in Rome.
African restaurant in Rome: review
Before you dine at Ristorante Eritrea, it’s worth reviewing some of the cornerstones of Eritrean and Ethiopian cooking. Berbere is a spice mixture which usually includes chili peppers, coriander, garlic, ginger, basil seeds, korarima, rue, ajwain or radhuni, nigella, and fenugreek. Ghedam personally imports this key ingredient as he can’t source it to his satisfaction in Europe.
This piquant spice turns up time and time again in Eritrean and Ethiopian dishes, and is something of a talismanic ingredient at this fascinating African restaurant in Rome.
Another key element is injera, a sour fermented flatbread with a slightly spongy texture, traditionally made of teff flour. This bread is used as a base or even plate in African food, and wonderfully absorbs sauces and flavours.
The antipasti mix, pictured above, includes sambusa, triangles of fried filo pastry filled with minced beef or spiced vegetables. Kategna are rolls of injera flatbread, spread with spiced butter and berbere. Falafel are fried chickpea-and-spice balls, found in a range of Middle Eastern, East European and African cultures.
This dish is accompanied by two sauces (in the ceramic dishes); these include a medium-spicy green pepper salsa, and a red sauce made with berbere which is quite spicy.
For a second dish, we were able to sample a range of tasting portions of the main courses (so I could share more of my thoughts on the menu with you).
From clockwise, above, these included kitfo (raw beef with butter and spices), the classic beef zighini, and the chunks of rare beef and spices of gored gored. These courses were served with pureed spicy chickpeas and red lentils, as well as some delicious vegetables, plus extra berbere for dusting with spice.
As you can see, the plate is absolutely stunning and each dish was more delicious than the last. The zighini and the gored gored were probably my favourite, for their spice and succulence.
Dinner was accompanied by African beers but the restaurant also has African wines on occasion. The prices are reasonable – the mixed antipasti for two costs €10, while the full-sized second course individual dishes are priced at €13-€16. These are all served with injera and a selection of vegetables.
I love eating spicy and non-Italian food, so Ristorante Eritrea was a great discovery and you should definitely put it on your list if you are looking to try an African restaurant in Rome.
If you’re interested in African culture in Rome, you might like to check out this story about an African fabric workshop in the Testaccio neighbourhood. For more non-Italian food recommendations, read these reviews on South American food at Casa Marcelo or some great Chinese food at Song in Prati.
Ristorante Eritrea | Piazza del Gasometro 1 | Roma | Tel 0039 3515304043
Testaccina was a guest of Ristorante Eritrea