San Giovanni wine bar Vinum Est is a great destination for wine and food enthusiasts looking for something a little bit different in Rome.
Vinum Est is first and foremost a handsomely stocked wine store and vendor of cheese, charcuterie and Italian artisan food products, so it’s an essential address for filling your bags with Italian food and wine.
Secondly, Vinum Est is a lunch, aperitivo, and dinner destination offering a menu whose hallmark is simple excellence. Pair raw fish and fine charcuterie boards with the wines that line its walls; or dive into the tasting journeys of Vinum Est for a truly original food experience.
Vinum Est & il mercato dell’Alberone
Vinum Est is a perhaps the last thing you expect to find in the chaos and colour of the Alberone market in Rome.
Tucked behind a row of market stalls on this locals-only side of San Giovanni in Rome, you would probably miss Vinum Est if you didn’t know it was there.
However, the newly expanded Vinum Est is actually the reiteration of a small wine store and delicatessen which previously occupied a market stall right here.
Vinum Est – the restaurant and wine bar – is now in a capacious, bricks and mortar establishment which gives plenty of space to the twirling hams and glass-fronted fridges full of cheese at the front of the store.
As you walk to the back, past an enviable wall of wine, around 15 covers have been created in a simple but refined seating area are where the dining and drinking magic happen.
Vinum Est – the dining experience
While Vinum Est is the perfect pitstop when you need to grab a fine bottle of wine or olive oil for dinner at home, I highly recommend dining in. Whether you are looking for a fast lunch, a quick nibble to pair with a couple of glasses of wine, or an easy dinner, the menu comprises multiple plates which are designed for informal grazing.
I recommend you start with the carefully sourced raw fish slates, which include a variety of fresh prawns and langoustines, smoked fish, and ribbons of silky cuttlefish. There are also fresh oysters from Brittany.
The cheese and charcuterie boards include lots of seasonal and regional options. Feel free to order from the counter or trust your server to bring you a handsome range of goodies.
So far, so good for the excellent sharing boards, with prices starting at just €8 for three different items. But the really exciting thing about the culinary offer at Vinum Est are the dressed, raw dishes, demonstrating the young chef’s expertise.
A dish, simply entitled ‘crudi di pesce’ on the menu, turns out to be raw grey mullet, in a citrus sauce with coriander seeds and seared celery (€12). The fresh acidity and spicy notes recall a Peruvian ceviche. Absolutely exquisite.
Similarly, ‘crudi di carne’ is a tartare of scottona (a young beef cow) served with slivers of herring, black garlic and citrus (€14). Again, this is food with a wow factor, made from simply combining quality ingredients.
Don’t miss, too, the ‘crudi vegetariani’ (€9), an apparently simple dish combining carrots and soft cheese. In reality, the marinated ribbons of carrot are expertly paired with creamy stracchino, hazelnuts and cumin for a velvety and exotic mouthfeel.
There are also wurstel tastings, fresh soups and cocktails if you are looking to continue a unique culinary journey.
Of course, you are in excellent hands when it comes to the wine and it would be a shame not to explore a few different vintages while here. The wall of wine which decorates Vinum Est (both beautiful and functional!) comprises around 50% Italian wines. The other 50% is dominated by French wines, with some German, Spanish and even New World wines thrown in to enrich the selection.
You may well ask what a restaurant and wine bar with such serious gourmet credentials is doing tucked away in the shadows of il mercato dell’Alberone. I wondered too. Then I took another forkful, and was merely grateful for yet another example of outstanding excellence on Rome’s food scene. It really is a city which never disappoints.
Enoteca Vinum Est| Via Francesco Valesio 24 | Roma