Ristorante 1978 in Rome might be the biggest favour you can do yourself this year when visiting the Eternal City if you’re looking for a truly exciting – and rewarding – dining experience.
All great restaurants understand the importance of the theatrical, but an empty show is much worse than simple surroundings complemented by satisfying food.
Ristorante 1978 promises a night to remember beyond its thrilling red door, but actually delivers with a beautifully appointed restaurant space, plus an intelligent menu that provokes delight and curiosity.
Simple, seasonal ingredients combine to produce a rare table magic which doesn’t need to lean on exotic or trendy elements.
The Piedmont origins of chef Eros Bruno run like a rich seam through the menu, without weighing it down with tradition or repeating dishes you might already have tasted from Alba to Roero.
I love the cuisine of Piedmont so this was a wonderful chance for me to see its calling cards flung on the table and mixed with panache into something rich and new.
We opted for the tasting menu, an exciting, well-priced option which offers five courses at €65 and seven courses at €80. Ask for wine to be paired separately, or chose your own tipple.
Dinner commenced with a handmade pasta tortello, filled with liver, and served in broth with slivers of porcini mushroom. Exquisite, earthy flavours in a perfect consomme.
Next up, this glittering tuna ceviche was as good as it looks. Served with a pineapple and fennel dipping sauce, the artful flavours were matched with a beautiful presentation.
We plunged straight back into the traditions of Piedmont with the next dish, a take on ‘vitello tonnato’, which loosely translates as ‘tuna-ed veal’. A delicately pressed veal in aspic – a rose-infused jelly – was served with creamed tuna sauce, charred cherry tomatoes and romanescque broccoli.
This exquisite hazelnut butter risotto is dressed with pigeon breast and gold leaf. Stunning presentation, and stunning flavours.
Next we tried another ‘first’ course – pasta ‘sweeties’ filled with Irish lamb and served with a cream of chives, plus cubes of Jerusalem artichoke. This was another impressive dish, but a little heavy on the salt for my taste.
As I mentioned before, if you’re in Rome but want to try the best of modern cuisine from Piedmont, you have to visit Ristorante 1978. This is the only restaurant in the city to serve vicciola beef – cattle exclusively reared on a diet of hazelnuts. It’s only found on one farm in Piedmont and naturally infuses the meat with an aromatic, nutty flavour.
The dessert menu is equally filled with wonderful ideas, and this dark chocolate pine cone was oozing with mountain pine mousse and liquorice. Another unique dish which I won’t forget for a long time.
We closed dinner with an artful selection of petit fours and a table-brewed herbal tea, completing a truly sensational experience in one of Rome’s most exciting restaurants. So far, my restaurant of the year.
By reservation only | Ristorante 1978 |Via Zara 27 |Rome | Tel +39 06 6933 5743
Testaccina was a guest of Ristorante 1978