Pianoalto Openspace may boast one of the only rooftop restaurants and bars in Testaccio, but that isn’t where it’s unique credentials end. Situated on the banks of the river Tiber, between Stazione Trastevere and Ponte Testaccio, Pianoalto Openspace represents an unusual piece of real estate – featuring a gourmet restaurant and bar perched on top of a parking garage.
The novelty doesn’t finish there, because Pianoalto’s Aria Contemporary Ristorante is also split over two levels – on the fifth and sixth floors of the building – representing an intriguing mix of indoor spaces with calming picture-window views, and two jaw-dropping terraces. The fifth floor terrace, partially covered, is joined to a carpark ramp creating some original entertainment spaces and an intimate club vibe.
Meanwhile, the building’s sixth floor is the real jewel in the crown: a stunning outdoor terrace loosely divided into a bar area and restaurant zone by artful vines and white-glossed wrought iron. At sunset, it is pretty as a picture – and unsurprisingly, a highly popular haunt with locals.
Pianoalto recently relaunched with the addition of the word Openspace to its name – revealing some of its ambitions. Formerly a side project of downtown restaurant Pianostrada, Pianoalto Openspace is now under new management, and the vibe is younger – and less expensive – than it was under the previous incumbents.
These days, Pianoalto Openspace is in the capable hands of chef Giulio Barghi, a previous protege of Pianostrada and former sous chef of Santo Trastevere. Giulio is working alongside his brother Augusto Barghi, whose creative agency, Rossoscuro Lab, has big plans for the space.
Pianoalto Openspace’s unique terraces and form lends it to a variety of uses, even during the day, and the Rossoscuro Lab plan is to bring fitness and leisure courses into its pleasant curves (think rooftop yoga), while creating a relaxed co-working option.
In the meantime, the relaunched Pianoalto Openspace is betting everything on its food and beverage offer, which exploits its lovely upper terrace to the max.
What was once Pianoalto Restaurant has now become Aria Contemporary Restaurant, under the watchful eye of Giulio, who has created a crowd-pleasing modern Italian menu which also gets the price right.
Service starts at 18.00 with the rooftop aperitivo, largely served in front of the bar area. Prices are good for a rooftop bar in Rome, ranging between €11 and €13 for originally-devised cocktails. How about an Amalfi Sour (€11), combining Aperol, fresh orange juice, lemon oleo saccharum, and Bitter violento? Or maybe a Spicy Morositas (€12), combining tequila infused with habanero and liquorice, agave syrup, lime and paprika. No nibbles are served so if you want to make a light bite of it, the house club sandwich hits the spot.
From around 19.30, diners start to drift to the terrace which is when Aria Contemporary Restaurant really comes into its own. The menu is competitively priced while prizing high quality and seasonal ingredients.
My dinner at Aria Restaurant started with a couple of very well executed antipasti: tuna tartare with tomatoes, basil and pumpkin seeds on a sliver of toast (€14), and savoury cannoli filled with whipped baccalà, senape and peach chutney (€13).
Next up, we tried a couple of pasta dishes. The agnolotti del plin filled with rabbit and crushed bay leaf have been on the menu since the first day of the relaunch, and this dish is close to perfection, swathed in a surprisingly light pecorino foam (€14).
Another pasta dish we tried is a relatively new entry to the menu, combining cappellacci filled with skate and served with a Roman broccoli cream (€15). Lovely savoury flavours here.
We also tried a dish from the second course menu – this absolutely sensational Tuna Tataki encased in herbs, served with sauteed scarola, olives and raisins (€22). This dish is full of sweet notes but was balanced and well executed.
Pianoalto Openspace is not just a fun addition to the Testaccio dining and bar scene – it’s something pretty fresh for Rome and this rooftop captures neighbourhood charms while adding a welcome gust of modernity.
I can’t wait to see if the new ownership manages to really help it live up to its potential – it’s clearly a unique stage for the right event, and I’ll be going back for co-working at the very least when autumn rolls around!
Testaccina was a guest of Pianoalto Openspace
Pianoalto Openspace | Lungotevere Portuense 200 | Rome | Italy | Tel 06 5528 6951