Off Club Rome is a new venture from AS Roma footballer Francesco Curcio and professional poker player Matteo Di Persio near trendy Pigneto, in the Casal Bertone neighbourhood.
Designed by Sicilian architect Antonino Cardillo, Wallpaper* magazine has already praised its ‘Kubrickian monoliths’ and ‘a continuity consciously akin to Escher’.
Expect interiors which nod to 1960s Brutalist architecture, with burnished concrete and a dramatic two-level club comprising 400 m2 of drinking, dancing and dining space (plus a hidden garden).
Located in Casal Bertone, it’s only really convenient if you live on the east side of town, but for the Pigneto, Tiburtino and San Lorenzo crowd it really is a short hop for a cocktail bar, eatery and club which is refreshingly different.
Despite the unfinished walls and yards of black acetate, there’s a pretty cool, international vibe here: blame the owners, if you will, whose VIP associations doubtlessly affect the clientele.
Cool credentials aside, I defy anyone not to enjoy the creations of bar manager Patrizio Boschetto, who is at home here behind the long and dramatically lit bar, mixing a selection of classics as well as some more theatrical concoctions thanks to a touch of dry ice.
This is a grown-up club largely due to the presence of a serious dining area where well-spaced glossy black tables continue the VIP vibe. The menu is curated by executive chef Adriano Magnoli, with pastry chef Antonella Mascolo also lending a dramatic touch in the kitchens.
The word of the day is fusion, although Magnoli goes one step further, creating uramaki almost wholly from Western European ingredients, although there are classic options for the traditionalist, including nigiri, chirashi and sashimi.
The menu is extensive, so expect stir fry and ramen options too, steamed bao buns and flavoursome bites from the grill – plus an imaginative range of internationally-inspired main courses.
Our meal commenced with an intriguing amuse bouche: soy noodles in clam and almond water with mussels. This was light yet tasty, perfectly reflecting the summer season.
Next, we sampled a selection from the surprisingly Italian-focused uramaki menu. I don’t know about you, but what I enjoy in fusion food is that unexpected mix of world flavours. Entirely fashioned from local ingredients, these got full marks for km 0 credentials but were a little too ‘Italian’ for my tastes. From top: Spicy tuna tartare, avocado and crispy shallot; prawn tempura, salmon sashimi, guanciale and burrata; avocado, cucumber, sesame and orange-flavoured seaweed; anchovy tempura, ricotta, orange, olives and fennel; foie gras, green apple, mustard and raspberry; aubergine parmigiana with bottarga. Expect to pay €16 for eight pieces.
The all-Italian flavours continued with this fried gunkan, combining octopus, potato and nduja.
Next, we moved on to a white bao bun with beef, broad beans, and pecorino, paired with a black bao stuffed with crab and cucumber. Bao buns are the fusion trend of the summer this year in Rome, but it’s hard to argue with their velvet soft texture and these interesting fillings worked well. The steamed and deep fried dishes on the menu range from €12-€20.
We travelled further east with the next dish, fish soup ramen, combining seafood, catch of the day, ginger, spring onions and katsuobushi. This was fresh and interesting, layered with the different fish flavours. A full sized portion costs €16.
We also tried a tasting portion of another Italian experiment of ‘carbonese’ rice, with carbonara cream, peas and crispy guanciale. Whilst the imagination in this dish was admirable, this combination didn’t work for me, weighed down by the robust pecorino and pork flavours (€14).
From the second course menu, I particularly enjoyed this breaded quail dish. The ample, seared thighs were paired with Jerusalem artichoke and roasted cob in a triumph of textures (€22).
It was time for the dessert menu, and a few dishes stood out. This Japanese apple cake combined fior di latte and white chocolate ice-cream for a decadent touch (€12).
Handmade macarons and petit fours for the table to share also went down a treat.
If you prefer not to order a la carte, tasting menus start at €50 a head, feature five dishes, and can be optionally paired with five wines for €30. A more expensive version pairs eight dishes (€75) with eight glasses of wine (€50 per person).
Overall, I enjoyed the experience, but preferred the dishes that combined east and west rather than focusing solely on Italian flavours.
Off Club Rome | Via Di Casal Bertone, 64 | Rome |Tel 333 247 7552
Testaccina was a guest of Off Club Rome