Michelin star restaurants in Rome: Bistrot64
They call it the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in Italy, and indeed – with set menus starting at €40 a head, they’re probably right.
But do we want or even need the city’s most prestigious restaurants to compete so keenly with its trattorias on price?
And why has a Japanese chef, Kotaro Noda, decided to dedicate himself entirely to Italian – and indeed primarily Roman cuisine?
With these questions in mind and my appetite at the ready, I headed to via Guglielmo Calderini, 64, the North Rome home of Bistrot64, marked by blink-and-you’ll-miss-it unassuming exteriors on a quiet street.
Inside, clean minimalist lines and spotless and modern furniture provide the only half-hint that our host is Japanese. The menu is a pleasing mix of culinary innovation and classics from the Roman tradition, but I’m ready to be surprised, so I ask the maitre d’ for advice. Before the food arrives, there is a beautifully theatrical presentation of freshly baked bread, combining softness and crunch.
Michelin star restaurants Rome: the Bistrot64 experience
One of the fun things about Bistrot64 is the fact that you can order a selection of dishes “inspired by the chef”. This set menu of five dishes costs just €40 per person, if diners eat before 19.30, and €50 per person from 19.30 onwards. The same dishes are served to all diners at the table, and an optional wine pairing of five glasses costs €40.
Alternatively, you can compile your own five course meal from the menu, or order a la carte, where antipasti start at €14, first course dishes €20, and second courses start at €30. So there are plenty of options for every budget.
Happily, I like surprises, so I was delighted to trust in the chef’s inspiration. We started with an amuse-bouche – these stunning trompe-l’oeil savoury petit four, which we were instructed to taste from the right. This extraordinary mix of flavours and textures, including soft gelees, creams, foams and crunchy wafers, were a lightning fast way to show off the chef’s skills – as well as underlining the impeccable table service.
For antipasti, we were served one of the restaurant’s most famous dishes – potato pasta with butter and anchovies (above). Just for clarification, this simple description is exact. The strands in the picture are semi-raw potato, just blanched to maintain crispness.
If, like me, you are accustomed to snacking on a piece of uncooked potato while preparing food this won’t hold any fears for you. Just in case anyone has ever told you to avoid raw potato, this is a great way of eliminating that doubt. The result is beautifully al dente, and combined with butter and anchovies is a triumph of texture and taste.
The first course dishes include recipes from the Roman tradition – amatriciana, carbonara and cacio e pepe, priced at a very reasonable €10. (I’d love to return to try them). But we were on track to try something different, so the chef delivered this remarkable Mediterranean lobster dish with basil and tarragon, lombrichelli all’astice, basilico e dragoncello. The sweetness of the lobster and tomato sauce contrasted beautifully with the herbs.
Next up – the rather dramatic piece de resistance, this stunning rombo all blacks, poached turbot dressed with black squid ink and a crisp, ink-infused wafer, plus dots of black mayonnaise. Despite the strong colours, the flavours were extremely delicate and the fish firm yet tender.
We were treated to a delicate, fruit sorbet palate cleanser – highly tweetable – which paved the way for dessert.
This beautifully deconstructed lemon-meringue pie continued the theme of textures with a great balance between sweet and tart.
The dinner was expertly paired with crisp white wines, with a red for the turbot, complementing the food perfectly. Another word has to go to the extraordinary service led by Maitre d’ Emanuele Cozzo – a reminder that Michelin stars are granted for a holistic experience, and this is one of the most interesting options in Rome.
Testaccina was a guest of Bistrot64
Bistrot64 | Via Guglielmo Calderini, 64 | Rome | Tel +39 06 323 5531
Open Mon-Sat, 18.00-22.30