It’s no wonder than Romans like to escape the city during the weekend. Rome always has plenty to offer, but destinations for locals-in-the-know, like Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello, represent a real weekend upgrade to recharge the batteries.
Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello is a well-appointed rustic retreat in relative solitude on the Roman lake of Martignano, around 25 kilometres or a 30 minute drive north of the city of Rome.
Situated just over a kilometre from Lake Bracciano, Lake Martignano is a much smaller affair with a strip of beach, much loved by an alternative crowd. The nearest train station from Rome is Anguillara, but the bad news is that you need a car to get to the lake, and definitely need private transport to reach Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello from Rome.
Beg or borrow a four-wheel-drive if you can, as Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello is reached along a 2km, bumpy and root-riddled dirt-track, but the rewards of the pilgrimage are apparent as soon as you arrive.
Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello comprises a handsome country house with a cavernous hall (ideal for winter and wet weather dining), seven apartments for holidaying guests, plus this incredible veranda which hosts lunches and dinners (and, unsurprisingly, the odd wedding reception).
This secret spot is relatively full at weekends, as canny Romans and the residents of the nearby towns make the trip to the lake to have lunch in this piece of paradise, where you can really enjoy the slow life (and even go for a dip in the lake).
I visited Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello for the first time recently, to try out their brand new menu. Previously, the restaurant served fairly rustic fare in line with the traditions of Roman cooking. However, a new team in the kitchens, led by Giuseppe Caliendo, has changed up Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello’s offering with a slightly more refined reading of Italian cuisine.
While the views are a big part of the appeal of Agriturismo Riserva di Martignanello, fashioned out of an old granary that stood on the shores of the lake, I was impressed with the menu and the choice of wines.
We were treated to a special tasting lunch showcasing the new menu, but all of the items on the list reflect what you’ll usually find on offer here, so the prices are valid (although portion size may vary).
We started with a sharing plate of tempura fried vegetables, with three kinds of dipping mayonnaise, naturally coloured and infused with beetroot, orange zest and dill. You’ll find this on the usual menu as well, priced at €7. Produce is sourced carefully and locally where possible. Antipasti dishes on the usual menu range from €7-€10.
Another popular dish from the usual antipasti menu was this, creamed bacala with lemon and mulberry jam. This hit all the right notes in terms of creaminess, sweetness and tartness (€10).
We next moved on to a dish of Garganelli pasta, tossed with smoked chicken and roast peppers. This was a delicate dish full of subtle flavours and I really liked it, although some of my dining companions would have preferred a more robust taste (€10). Expect to pay between €10-€12 for pasta dishes here.
We next tried a couple of dishes from the main or second course menu. The first was a revisitation of that Roman classic, saltimbocca. Made with ham, pecorino cheese, white cabbage and poached pear, this proved a lovely clash of sweet and salty flavours (€16).
We followed this with pork neck smothered in BBQ sauce, with woodfire-grilled corn on the cob. This was full of flavour, although the sauce drowned the meat a little for my tastes (€16).
At this point in the meal, it was the perfect moment to step out onto the grass or enjoy a stroll down to the lake to make room for dessert (any excuse).
Dessert was a perfectly formed riff on red velvet cake, with candied beetroot and a yoghurt filling. Very nice and not too sweet (€6).
During the winter months, dinner and lunch happen in here, within the old granary, in front of a roaring log fire – absolute bliss. Just the sight of it made me want the cold weather to hurry up!
Overall, it was a fantastic experience and another reminder that Rome is full of surprises. And if you want to escape the chaos of the city, even for a few hours, it is truly possible. Please note, there are no POS facilities, so the restaurant is cash-only.
Agriturismo La Riserva di Martignanello | Strada Valle di Baccano, 29 | 00063 Campagnano di Roma | Tel + 39 335 732 1261
Testaccina was a guest of La Riserva di Martignanello