Santo in Trastevere is one of those places which feels like its been around forever in Rome. This hip restaurant and cocktail bar in an out-of-the-way piazza in one of Trastevere’s loveliest corners exudes originality, flair and warmth, and has quickly become a firm favourite with a local crowd and travellers in the know.
Santo Trastevere actually opened in October 2016, so has only just celebrated its second birthday, but has quickly become a legend in its own lunchtime thanks to simply gorgeous interiors, quality food and drinks and service with a smile. Original art from street artist Giorgio Bartocci adorns the walls and ceilings, adding depth and design.
There’s a talented bar team of mixology specialists behind the bar while chef Edoardo Meuti loves to focus on fresh fish, fusion bites and riffing on Roman classics.
The entire project is the brainchild of Daniele Fadda, who created Santo Trastevere out of an old car bodywork workshop which now oozes post-industrial chic with its airy windows and cosy corners. The focal point of the main room is a cascade of real plants which add warmth and colour, while Edison light bulbs and polished and painted metal, plus New York-sourced tiles underline the cool groove.
Expect to sit at high tables, or bar stools, in a corner booth or even on the communal table. While many Santo punters come for the drinks – with cocktails a speciality – Daniele has vastly expanded the food offer from bistro to restaurant over the last year to make Santo a very viable choice for dinner as well. Lunch is now offered from Fridays to Sundays giving you an extra excuse to head down there.
While the first six months of operations saw the kitchen focus on light bites, including tartare and thinly sliced carpaccio dishes, there’s now a full menu on offer, including starters, first courses – pastas and more – plus second course plates with a strong focus on fish. Don’t miss the dessert menu.
You now have another reason to have lunch at Santo Trastevere thanks to a new bike sharing scheme. Simply sit down for your midday meal here and Santo will place a bicycle at your disposition for the entire afternoon, which you need to return in the early evening.
The bike is absolutely free and comes equipped with a bike lock so you can explore Rome in style. It’s Santo’s way of thanking you for popping in for lunch and a brilliant way to enjoy your afternoon in the Eternal City.
The lunch menu includes quick bites ranging from hamburgers to pasta with pesto, making it suitable for diners of all ages and an easy and fun break in the Trastevere neighbourhood in Rome.
I recently visited Santo for dinner, and sat down to enjoy a range of classics from the menu, starting with this incredible amuse bouche combining a ginger sponge with anchovies, butter and candied lemon.
For our antipasti course, we sampled this squid ceviche served with a pea cream and sun-blush tomatoes – a lovely combination of flavours.
That was followed by a fresher-than-fresh tuna tartare served with finely chopped marinated red onions and tomatoes.
We also sampled this sensational raw prawn carpaccio with homemade chive mayonnaise and freshly cracked black pepper.
Santo Trastevere serves a great range of Italian pasta dishes, often reinvented for a modern menu. This fresh egg fettuccine is served with anchovy butter, candied lemon and pureed peas for a light and tangy combination of flavours.
Chef Meuti’s take on carbonara is an ingenious reworking, featuring handmade ravioli filled with pig cheek, served in an egg and pecorino cheese sauce.
Meanwhile, this seared tuna covered in crunchy panko breadcrumbs is served with a fresh tomato mayonnaise.
Or how about roast octopus in cream with sun-blush tomatoes?
I really enjoyed these salmon steaks served with a delicate wasabi sauce which proved the perfect tangy contrast.
The dessert menu is fabulous. How about this sensational blackcurrant cheesecake served with a fresh compote on a biscuit base?
My personal favourite was this black-cherry ice cream crunch served in a chocolate case with a swirl of cherry sauce round the plate.
All in all, my Santo Trastevere experience was a real success and while it remains one of the best cocktail bars in town, I am also happy to recommend it for dinner too. The atmosphere is second to none.
With bike sharing now thrown in for free during the day time, what’s not to like? While lunch is currently offered Friday to Sundays this may expand over the year so call ahead to find out.
Santo Trastevere | Via della Paglia, 40 | Rome | Italy | Tel +39 06 5837 7020
Testaccina was a guest of Santo Trastevere