If you’re looking for a Rome restaurant near the Pantheon, Archivolto is a new creation in the city’s ancient heart, combining old and new to produce a delightfully original dining experience.
Positioned just a few minutes’ walk from the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Largo Argentina, Archivolto is positioned in a tiny, medieval-style alley called Vicolo delle Ceste. The street’s name comes from the basket weavers that once worked here, and its atmosphere is pure old Rome.
Situated on the ground-floor of new boutique Hotel Scenario – a great choice for your stay in Rome – Archivolto’s modern main room unfolds into a bijoux space with a retracting roof for summer dining. Chef Giorgio Baldari is an experienced and well-travelled expert in sourcing prime quality ingredients, as evinced in his solo Roman project, Barbieri 23.
The Archivolto menu represents an intriguing mix of homespun memories and something new: Baldari combines dishes from his childhood with contemporary invention to create authentic comfort food. While the recipes have humble origins, stylish touches and combinations exalt their flavours with considerable flair.
We started with a selection of antipasti, passing them round so we could all have a taste. First up, this bitter cocoa maritozzo (a traditional Roman bun) served with tender oxtail is a playful riff on two iconic Roman dishes (€12). Served with sun-blushed tomatoes and candied celery, this was absolutely sensational, and probably my favourite antipasto on the list.
Other antipasti included this smoky char-grilled octopus, dipped in semola and served with potatoes and paprika, which was a little tough on the bite (€18).
We also tried this indulgent and creamy bone-marrow starter, made from a split bone grilled with breadcrumbs and parmesan, served with porcini mushroom and black garlic sauce (€14). This was a clear call to Baldari’s childhood, waiting around the kitchen to beg a bone to devour, and was a real treat.
The first course menu includes a selection of pasta and rice dishes, rich in comforting notes. This risotto is Baldari’s homage to the 1980s, when cream imbued countless seafood rice dishes. His version is a ‘use-all’ exploitation of langoustines, from the meat to the broth, combined with yeast-marinated tomatoes and cream-based stracciatella cheese (€22). Very satisfying.
This stunning dish was characterised by typically Baldari boldness: ravioli filled with red onion chutney, served with stockfish tripe in a richly savoury tomato sauce. (€18). Absolutely delicious.
We also tried this richly satisfying gnocchi dish, with yellow tomato salsa, goats cheese and sea urchins (€20). Another wow plate.
On to the main courses, and this stunning dish of monkfish in thyme served with Roman lupini clams was full of flavours of the sea.
We also sampled this hearty lamb shank with black garlic puntarelle and roast potatoes. Sensational, rich roast flavours.
The dessert menu has some tantalising options, but my favourite of all was this cooked apple with butter and rosemary, covered in salted caramel with English cream and génoise with Tuscan raisin (€10). Just like grandma (almost) used to make!
Archivolto’s cheekiness and flair is a welcome addition to the Roman restaurant scene, dipping into the archives of peasant food and emerging with transformed treasures. The wine list favours small, local producers and it’s worth ordering a grappa or liquor from the enviable drinks menu.
Testaccina was a guest of Archivolto
Archivolto Ristorante | Vicolo delle Ceste 26 | Roma | Tel
+390639379017 | Open every day, 19.30 – 23.00