UPDATE: Perpetual Ristorazione Differente is now permanently closed. For another great take on modern gourmet cuisine in Rome, with a sensational rooftop cocktail bar to boot, try Jacopa.
Perpetual Ristorazione Differente is an incredible new gourmet experience in Rome, located in the enchanting piazza Iside, just a few minutes from the Colosseum in one of the city’s most refined residential quarters.
With chef Cezar Predescu at the helm, Perpetual Restaurant – subtitled Ristorazione Differente to underline its original approach – offers an imaginative menu that takes Roman cuisine as a starting point for a voyage far beyond Italy at times. Predescu is Romanian in origin but has been in Italy for 20 years, with his wife, the restaurant’s pastry chef.
The 30-strong team of chefs and restaurant professionals that make up this enterprise have notched up years of experience in four corners of the world and some outstanding restaurants – and this vast knowledge and influence shows in the food, but humbly, delicately, with enormous respect for individual flavours and elements.
Expect meticulous Mediterranean ingredients (and much more) paired on occasion with sake, or other outstanding, unusual wines, if you put your trust in Perpetual and choose a tasting menu, which would be my recommendation. Japanese and Romanian influences aside, the cuisine is distinguished by a pared-back approach on the plate which belies the complexity of texture and the original range of ingredients used.
Perpetual Ristorazione Differente – The interiors
A word must be said about the restaurant itself and its gorgeous interiors. In Rome, one can quickly become used to – and indeed fond of – old-fashioned, homely interiors where you nevertheless dine like a prince. Perpetual Ristorazione Differente represents a deep transformation of a period building into a refined, designer-led locale with an extraordinary ambience and charm.
Located in a beautiful and ancient piazza near the Colosseum, this restaurant was six years in the making – six years to find the right location, transform the old lamp shop that stood there into a modern, three level building, and create a welcoming, Nordic-inspired interior to host a restaurant with a difference. There is a handsome bar and reception area downstairs, distinguished by a ancient bar top made from fossilised wood imported from Kazakhstan before you move into the first room, a comfortable and intimate space recalling a luxury hotel interior in tones of taupe and mushroom.
Upstairs, another bar serving diners exclusively, for the moment, warms the space, while the main reception room is suffused with gentle lighting and distinguished by marvellous views over the piazza, although remains sufficiently private due to heavy curtains.
According to the Perpetual Ristorazione Differente team, the entire project includes 150 m2 of reception rooms, a 350 m2 kitchen – including an open-kitchen element, as soon as you enter the building – plus a 80 m2 upper floor, with changing rooms for the staff and a workshop open space for team meetings and idea building. As you can perhaps start to see, this is no ordinary restaurant but a creative project that conveys an enormous passion and pride in its endeavour.
Perpetual Ristorazione Differente – The review
On my visit to Perpetual Ristorazione Differente, I ate an 11 course tasting or degustazione menu, paired with 10 wines, or more correctly, 8 wines and 2 glasses of sake (despite being described as a rice wine, this fermented beverage is closer to a beer in production methods).
This 11-course menu is available to guests of the restaurant for €85, or €60 for a 7 course version of the menu. Served with the full wine pairing, this attracts an additional charge per person of €60. It is also possible to just drink three paired glasses of wine for €18 or 5 glasses for €30, a good compromise.
We started with a millefoglie of liver and orange zest, baked to perfection. Chef Cezar described this as being inspired by the cuisine of his youth in Romania. The oil of the orange zest beautifully punctured the fat and bitterness of the liver. It was served with a Moscato d’asti 2016 – Vittorio Bera e Figli.
Secondly, we tried home-baked wholemeal bread served with extra virgin olive oil 46° Parallelo, sourced from a small producer in Riva del Garda. This was paired with Franciacorta Vendemmia zero di Vezzoli. Simple perfection.
Next, on to one of the restaurant’s star dishes – a beautifully presented carpaccio of red prawns, served with a thin layer of ‘mela acida’ – crabapple or green apple – and crème fraiche. The barely perceptible crunch of the apple underneath the supple flesh of the raw prawns was a truly exquisite contrast. We drank Tohokuizumi Toku Sake with this, an interesting pairing which worked very well. This was followed by baked Belgian endive and radicchio dressed with a walnut and pine nut sauce. Again, a wonderful contrast of flavours and textures and beautiful on the plate. This was served with my favourite wine of the dinner – an astonishingly earthy rosè called Rosè d’un jour 2017 Femme de la Sansonnier. This is definitely a wine I will be hunting out. Next up, a carbonara with a difference. Served under a foam of egg yolk and parmesan, studded with cubes of guanciale, this was served with firm pieces of steamed endive. Light yet satisfying. This was paired with Latour a Civitella 2011 – Sergio Mottura. The next dish, gnocchi made from charcoal-roast potatoes and simply dressed with a shaving of white truffles, was served with Tradition 2014 – Schloss Gobelsburg. After this, we tried a moist fillet of cod, cooked at low temperatures, served with a mustard sprouts sauce and paired with a natural wine, the unfiltered Dettori bianco 2016 – Tenuta Dettori. It was almost time to pass to the dessert course, with a wonderful hybrid paying homage to Roman cuisine – Oxtail with a rich chocolate sauce. Served with Amarone della Valpolicella 2012 – Ca’ La Bionda. The dessert section of the dinner started with a single, candied raspberry on a mint leaf, followed by a dessert intriguingly named ‘nuvola’, meaning cloud. This comprised a sorbet of kefir and bergamot served on a lychee cream sauce. It was paired with Malvasia puntinata passito 2015 – Casale Certosa.
Finally, we crowned the dinner with a dessert named ‘panino al cioccolato’ – which translates simply as chocolate sandwich. This was actually a very light ice-cream made from the ‘mother’ yeast served with a hot chocolate sauce. It was paired with Shirayuki Edo Genshu Sake.
The dinner should have closed here, but our chefs brought out a closing ‘cocktail’ to taste – made from fermented Japanese yuzu and served with handmade petit four. Another sign of the extraordinary range of this restaurant. After all 12 dishes I felt surprisingly light, and the alcohol had been served in correct measure. A simply stunning experience.
Perpetual Ristorazione Differente – the à la carte menu
If you prefer not to follow a tasting menu, the à la carte menu includes lots of inspiring dishes, starting at €20 per plate. First courses include ravioli filled with hazelnuts, pear and taleggio, or spaghetti with sea urchin and pecorino. Second courses include Fassona beef or octopus with fondue and an interesting vegetarian dish of aubergine with bulgur wheat and ground cheese.
However, the tasting menu – which includes special variants for Valentine’s Day and will evolve throughout the year – is a superb experience and one which I would recommend.
All in all, following a quiet opening in November 2017, Perpetual is truly a place to watch and has enormous ambitions to take the Roman restaurant scene by storm.
As of January 29th, Perpetual offers a lunch menu priced at €30 for two courses plus dessert, excluding beverages.
Perpetual Restaurant is open Monday – Saturday, for lunch and dinner.
Testaccina was a guest of Perpetual Restaurant