All’Oro Rome, a Michelin star restaurant by Riccardo di Giacinto, has entered the canons of Rome’s fine dining scene for good reason.
Approaching a decade with a Michelin star, All’Oro has matured into a key reference point on the Roman restaurant scene, these days occupying a handsome, dark-wood-lined ground-floor space at boutique hotel The H’All Tailor Suite, a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo.
Di Giacinto and his wife Ramona Anello launched the first All’Oro in 2007, conquering the Michelin star three years later, and moving the restaurant to the First Roma Art Hotel. Then, in 2017, an ambitious, new adventure: a boutique hotel all of their own and a custom-designed space to delight and surprise dinner guests.
The restaurant’s name pays homage to the goldsmiths owned by Riccardo’s father, Enzo Oro, combined with the Italian word for bay leaf, alloro. You would be forgiven for thinking that All’Oro would be a direct descendant of Italian traditions with these hints in play, but in its latest incarnation, it is a dramatic rule breaker, which teases with tales of the past.
Di Giacinto and Anello have had a singular impact on the Roman restaurant and bar scene, injecting it with originality and flair. The brains behind the top floor bar and restaurant of La Rinascente’s Madeiterraneo / Up Sunset Bar on via del Tritone, Di Giacinto also launched Madre in 2016. This memorable cocktail bar and eatery in another well-appointed space attracts a cool crowd all of its own.
Boutique hotel The H’All Tailor Suite is also a play on the restaurant’s name, while the word tailor reminds guests that this is another bespoke project. Comprising 14 rooms, the hotel entrance and its off-road position just a few minutes walk from Piazza del Popolo takes you into a refined space which feels a million miles from Rome.
The lobby is on a raised floor, so its downstairs to All’Oro on the ground floor, a black-walled and dark carpeted space with the neutral simplicity of a drama studio. This is no mistake, as the All’Oro magic is designed to introduce colour and surprise to this blank canvas. As you dine, dishes slowly populate the black tables, artfully lit, with the sleight of hand of a miniature theatre.
Expect every dinner to start with a signature amuse bouche selection courtesy of the chef, which changes with the seasons. Clockwise, from top: we tried an amatriciana tartlet (the biscuit is made from tomatoes topped with delicate parmesan cream and pig cheek). Next, a recent invention, glossy red miniature ‘apples’, containing fluffy Roman roast piglet or porchetta and mustard, covered with an apple gel. On the chair, an ironic homage to ice-cream sandwiches, combining anchovy and butter. On the slate, Di Giacinto’s iconic ‘liquid panzanella’, a take on the traditional central Italian poor dish combining old bread and tomatoes – only the bread is on the outside, and the interior is warm, liquid tomato sauce. Di Giacinto also delights with miniature tacos, and savoury versions of the Roman cream bun, the maritozzo.
This inverting of expectations – in terms of tastes and sweet and savoury – is a hallmark of Di Giacinto’s, and perhaps a playful reference to a wonderful canon of star chefs, including, I wonder, Heston Blumenthal and his ‘meat fruit’ creations.
My tasting menu, which was accompanied with four carefully selected wines, included a selection of dishes from the All’Oro archives, plus a few brand new creations. The dinner started with wild salmon, wakame seaweed and parsley with nervetti, a classic Northern Italian dish of veal tendons and cartilage. These delicate textures bestrode continents and teased with an otherworldly aspect.
Next we moved on to All’Oro classic, savoury tiramisu, combining baccala, potato, and cinta senese lard sprinkled with cocoa. Served in this wonderfully organic form, the foamed potato concealed creamy chunks of fish in an inspired take on comfort food.
This was followed by a new dish on the menu, linguini with squid, lemon and blackberry. I absolutely loved this dish, deceptive in its simplicity. The fresh and tart fruit flavours balanced perfectly with the squid strips, silky like the pasta.
Next up, an All’Oro classic, “riassunto di carbonara”. This riff on the traditional Roman dish takes the ingredients that comprise the recipe’s essence, concentrating their flavours in a smooth and crunchy foam.
Maitre d’ and sommelier Andrea prepared the next course at our table, wheeling out a portable service deck with gas burners to pay tribute to a dish which has been on the menu at All’Oro since the very beginning. This dash of theatre added to the bespoke experience, and the final result was delicious.
The dish prepared combined mascarpone ravioli with duck ragout and a reduction of red wine, in a delicate and gamey ensemble.
We moved on to another hallmark of Di Giacinto’s creativity, brodo in tortellini. This classic All’Oro dish inverts the Italian traditional dish of tortellini in brodo – filled pasta in broth – by placing the consomme at the heart of these delicate pasta buttons, served with a delicate cheese and saffron sauce.
The savoury part of dinner closed with this artful dive into the past – Hare Royale, an 18th century French dish combining seared and pastry-encased hare with black truffle. This plate proved a wonderfully regal end to dinner, sturdy yet simple.
The surprises hadn’t yet finished, with this pre-dessert served in an edible pouch. Next up, we tried a new creation at All’Oro, served with a dramatic smash on the plate. This pearl-white chocolate egg is presented with biscuit rigatoni and filled with a passion-fruit and lemon yolk.
My dining companion tried this lemon-curd filled faux lemon, served with a creamy limoncello. Again, sweet and tart were well-balanced to transform expectations.
The evening concluded with another note of whimsy – this operational carousel dubbed ‘curry-on’ – bearing curry-flavoured spools of crunchy sugar and cream dessert. This was served with hand made petits fours.
The All’Oro experience has matured into an assured act, deftly combining trompe l’oeil magic and arresting tastes. However, this is much more than a grand Illusionist display, with Di Giacinto’s experience crafting a coherent gourmet journey.
Degustation menus are priced at €120 excluding wine, and should be served to the whole table. Variations include nine dishes selected by Di Giacinto priced at €150 – similar to the experience I tried – and a vegan degustation priced at €88. Wines by the glass start at €15, while your sommelier can also advise on wine pairings. If you know the menu, you might want to opt for the a la carte version, or seasonal specials which include white truffle themed menus in winter.
Ristorante All’Oro | Via Giuseppe Pisanelli 23/25 | Rome | Italy | Tel +39 06 9799 6907
Testaccina was a guest of All’Oro
All’Oro is a wonderful place to begin an exploration of Rome’s most exciting gourmet options. If you’re curious about Michelin star restaurants in Rome, you might also want to read my reviews of seaside Michelin-star restaurant, Il Tino in Fiumicino, or Bistrot64, reputed the cheapest Michelin-star restaurant in Italy.