Cocktail bars in Rome don’t get much more perfect than Co.So in Rome’s Pigneto neighbourhood. It’s small, but with enough cute tables to find a spot for you and your squeeze / mates AND get a decent vibe going.
The bar changed hands about a year ago after achieving cult status on the Roman cocktail scene, reopening with an important difference: there’s now restaurant food available barside.
To get to bottom of the full story, we have to go back to December 2013. Massimo D’Addezio, head barman of the poshest hotel in town, Hotel de Russie, has just left the Rocco Forte empire… to open a bar in Pigneto.
Back then, Pigneto was still at the ratchet end of radical, but D’Addezio was ahead of the curve. Co.So Cocktail & Social launched with a fierce list of cocktails that lead with the Carbonara Sour, before anyone else was really knocking the Roman cocktail game out of the park.
This revisited vodka sour, featuring egg white, black pepper and (pig) fat washed vodka, plus plenty of lemon zing, was the click bait to get punters into the bar. There was also even a shower leading to one of the city’s proto speakeasies, a bar within a bar. In short, it was cool.
D’Addezio is never one to rest on his laurels and about a year ago, he handed the Co.So stage over to one of his acolytes from his Gambero Rosso mixology TV show – young bartender Giulia Castellucci – with the bar now under the new management of co-owners Benedetto Guarino and chef Riccardo Bucci.
Bucci and Guarino love everything Japanese, as is partly evident from the art and ceramics, while the interior has been newly transformed by street artist Koi into a true urban jungle.
As mentioned above, whilst the Carbonara Sour remains on the menu, the biggest news is the arrival of restaurant food at Co.So. Quality light bites were available under D’Addezio’s rule, but the new menu ranges from club sandwiches – in many guises – to an exquisite aged beef tartare.
I recently tried out a few dishes as part of a beer pairing night, run by Lombard brewery Hibu. Acquired by Heineken in 2017, Hibu has technically lost its craft beer label but still remains an excellent agri-brewhouse that cultivates its own malts and hops to create a select range of farm-to-table niche beers.
Dinner started with this wow dish: dry-aged beef with snails’ eggs and fresh oyster sauce served on Sardinian flat bread. This was paired with Hibu’s Entropia, a fresh 4.8% Golden Ale.
The club sandwich is in many respects the heart of the new Co.So menu – and worthy of your respect. When you think about it, this relatively simple plate has survived decades if not centuries of changing food fashions for a reason. Toasted bread, stacked in a decadent pile of three layers with a sumptuous filling and served with chips or fries is close to perfection, as ideas go.
Co.So’s chef Bucci loves the club sandwich, and revisits it in eight different styles on the menu, including three fish-inspired versions. I tried one of these, the incredible salmon club with wild salmon, spinach, black squid creme fraiche and chorizo, served with vegetable chips. At €13, this is a bargain and absolutely delicious. It was paired with Hibu’s lovely grassy Trhibu American IPA.
Next up, dessert, and this was a superb pecan cheesecake made from gorgonzola with salted caramel. The salt and sweet was just right, paired with a not-too-treacly triple from Hibu, the Gotha.
All in all, the beer pairing was a success and a great way to explore a small selection of the new menu at Co.So, which I liked a lot. There are also some tempting cold plates of cheese and salami and a bento aperitivo box, including a drink, for a bargain €13. As for the cocktails? Still great as ever. What are you waiting for – it’s time for a Co.So night.
Co.So Cocktail & Social | Via Braccio da Montone 80 | Rome | Italy | Tel 0039 393 658 3230
Testaccina was a guest of Co.So and Hibu