Sacro e Profano in San Giovanni is a restaurant like no other in Rome. Founders Nicola and Francesco, who love both tradtional and innovative cookery, started out with a dilemma. Should they stay true to the classics of Roman and Italian cuisine, or remix the recipes to create a new kind of restaurant?

In the end, they plumped for both, in a touch of genius which defines Sacro e Profano. The name, which means ‘sacred and profane’, refers to the fact that this is a place with two souls, and two menus.

The ‘sacred’ menu includes the pillars of Italian and Roman cuisine, from carbonara to oven-roast lamb. But there is also the ‘profane’ menu in parallel, offering inventive recipes which transform each classic dish into something new. It’s fun to order from each side of the ‘sacro e profano’ menu if you’re in a couple or group, and taste each other’s dishes to see how the plates evolve.

Sacro e Profano San Giovanni restaurant review

Sacro e Profano San Giovanni restaurant: the origins

The Sacro e Profano San Giovanni project dates back to November 2019, and quickly caught the hearts and minds of local diners. Even the restaurant is split into two: there is a wood-lined, classic osteria on the left as you enter the door; and a brightly-lit, more innovative space on the right. In the back, a modern-day wine cellar is available for private dining between the bottles and racks.

For the two years before opening Sacro e Profano restaurant, from July 2017 to 2019, Nicola and Francesco toured wineries all over Italy in search of the best vintages for their new place. They also used their grand tour as a chance to taste typical dishes from the Italian Alps to the islands of Sicily. The result is a menu which calls frequently on Roman inspiration, but which also looks further afield to delight and inspire.

Nicola and Francesco also like to host themed weeks in terms of wines and dishes, so their loyal clientele always have something new to look forward to.

Sacro Profano restaurant San Giovanni Rome

Sacro e Profano San Giovanni: restaurant review

During my evening at Sacro e Profano, we tasted a range of both traditional and innovative dishes to understand the restaurant’s full range. We started with a classic braised artichoke, Roman style – the perfect seasonal dish.

To contrast this, we also tasted the ‘profane’ version, a tasty artichoke, taleggio and pecorino cheese flan. Moist and tangy, this was a great start.

Next up, we dove into a traditional and innovative stand-off based on porcini mushrooms. The ‘sacro’ dish this time was a handsome porcini mushroom risotto – sensational. To contrast this, we also took a peek at the ‘profane’ version – a rice mould with porcini mushrooms and parmesan foam. Again, delicious!

Our appetites weren’t going to let us continue to try both sides of the menu, so we mixed and matched forthwith. Next up was an innovative remix on the king of Roman pasta dishes, the carbonara. This time, edible carbon ravioli served with guanciale, pecorino and a savoury zabaglione wowed our palates. It was a little salty for my tastes but a gorgeous looking plate.

After this, we tasted a mini-stand-off of ‘sacro e profano’ pork dishes. The traditional recipe was a succulent pork cutlet with prune puree; against a pulled-pork bun with cheesy chips. These were fun dishes. The pulled pork wasn’t a true pulled pork from hours of braising, but rather oven-roasted to tenderness.

Sacro e profano has a range of desserts – I plumped for the fruits of the forest baba which didn’t disappoint. Wine lovers will be impressed with the cellar which holds around 180 labels at the moment. There are also dessert wines and aperitif options.

All in all, this a fun restaurant, but not merely a gimmick. Give Sacro e Profano restaurant a try if you’re in San Giovanni, and don’t forget to mention that Testaccina sent you!

Sacro e Profano | Via Siria, 16 | Roma | Tel. 0655136181

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