Moma Rome, cute cafe and bistro by day, and cosy Michelin-star restaurant by night, is a must-visit spot when in Rome.
Located incredibly centrally behind Piazza della Repubblica, about a ten minute walk from Rome’s main train station, Termini, this two-level restaurant oozes family-run charm, while proving a sophisticated locale for occasion dining.
Moma Rome has just a couple of tables on the pavement outside, ideal for a quick breakfast coffee, or a pre-dinner aperitif, which match the simplicity of its bijoux ground-floor bar space, equipped with half a dozen stools.
Meanwhile, the upper level is a cosy arrangement of white table clothes in an L-shaped dining room that manages to carve out intimate, private corners. At lunch, Moma Rome’s quick and breezy bistro serves local workers and tourists in the know, with chef Franco Pierini at the helm.
Moma’s light lunch runs from 11.30 to 15.00 offering a range of dishes depending on daily market arrivals such as eggplant Parmigiana, cod flan, octopus salad, meatballs and potato gateau. Diners can choose individual dishes from the menu or opt for a good-value three course selection. It is also possible to order from the Michelin-starred menu at lunch, with a pared down choice also friendly on the pocket – degustations start at €55 per person.
Moma Rome – its name a homage to the iconic New York museum – is the brainchild of brothers Gastone and Franco Pierini, old hands in the world of catering and the name behind a range of projects, including Pro Loco Pinciano, in partnership with another expert of Lazio produce, Vincenzo Mancino.
That collaboration is a key to the instincts driving Moma, which is a true champion of the region’s riches, patronising its smallholdings and obscure food and wine alchemists. While the restaurant was launched 17 years ago, it only won the Michelin-star in 2019. I get the feeling this isn’t due to any tardiness on the part of the Pierini brothers, but due to a gentle shrug of the shoulders as to the significance of fame, and a genuine focus on the passion project of good food.
Moma Rome: Michelin star restaurant review
Moma restaurant’s second kitchen, which holds the Michelin star, is run by young talent Andrea Pasqualucci, class of 1989 and Lazio born, who shares the brothers’ belief in the unsung food heroes of this region. Pasqualucci arrived at Moma in 2017, bringing his experience of some of Rome’s finest hotel restaurants plus a spell on the coast cooking up fish in Senigallia.
Moma’s Michelin-starred kitchen is also available at lunch, although I visited at night. Dining options include a la carte, while tasting menus start at €75, with a wine pairing costing a reasonable €30 per person. The menu I tried was similar to the €95 degustation, with a €40 wine pairing. Moma’s ample wine list is well balanced between international star turns and local heroes, entirely fitting the ethos of the project.
Dinner started with a triple amuse bouche from the chef – clockwise from top: salami bites, parmesan ice-cream sandwiches, and comforting potato soup.
Next we dove into one of the menu’s classic options – lightly pickled vegetables in the so-called giardiniera style, with savoy cabbage, carrot and kale in white balsamic on a savoury crumble base. A wonderful palate cleanser and appetite stimulant.
This was followed by a luxurious square of veal tongue, topped with fried sweetbreads and artichoke, endive and balsamic pearls: a triumph of sweet, sour and bitter.
This tremendous risotto was one of my favourite dishes of the night. Combining a simple base of lemon, butter and parmesan, it was topped with eel home-smoked with cherry wood. The sauce is enriched with eel and Japanese-style fermented lentils – a wonderful umami collision.
We also tried this other show-stealer – pasta infused with beetroot, topped with sheep’s cheese and salad burnet – as good as it looked.
It was time to explore the second course menu, with this artful dish combining baccala with wild mushrooms and hazelnuts – truly summing up the humble spirit of this charming restaurant.
For dessert, I tried the pumpkin ravioli with meringue – a well-balanced dish, not over-cloying in its sweetness.
All in all, I really loved the Moma Rome experience and would definitely go back, at any time of day. This for me was perfect Michelin-star dining, combining excellence in execution and ingredients, without the showy stiffness sometimes found in gourmet establishments. Sweet humility from the staff and the owners really won me over, propelling Moma Rome into one of my all-time favourite experiences in the Eternal City.
Ristorante Moma | Via di San Basilio, 42/43 | Roma |
Tel. +39 06 42011798 | Open 12:30 – 15:00 19:30 – 24:00, closed Sundays
Testaccina was a guest of Moma Restaurant