Santo Trastevere is one of those places which feels like its been around forever in Rome. This hip restaurant and cocktail bar in an out-of-the-way piazza in one of Trastevere’s loveliest corners exudes originality, flair and warmth, and has quickly become a firm favourite with a local crowd and travellers in the know.
Santo Trastevere actually opened in October 2016, so has only recently celebrated its third birthday, but has quickly become a local legend thanks to simply gorgeous interiors, quality food and drinks and service with a smile. Original art from street artist Giorgio Bartocci adorns the walls and ceilings, adding depth and design.
There’s a talented bar team of mixology specialists behind the bar while the restaurant kitchen includes a focus on fresh fish, fusion bites and riffing on Roman classics.
The entire project is the brainchild of Daniele Fadda, who created Santo Trastevere out of an old car bodywork workshop which now oozes post-industrial chic with its airy windows and cosy corners. The focal point of the main room is a cascade of real plants which add warmth and colour, while Edison light bulbs and polished and painted metal, plus New York-sourced tiles underline the cool groove.
Expect to sit at high tables, or bar stools, in a corner booth or even on the communal table. While many Santo punters come for the drinks – with cocktails a speciality – Daniele has vastly expanded the food offer from bistro to restaurant over the last couple of years to make Santo a very viable choice for dinner as well.
Open six days a week, excluding Mondays, the seasonal menu includes fusion starters, first courses – pastas and more – plus second course plates with a strong focus on fish including stunning tartare and raw dishes. Don’t miss the dessert menu.
I recently returned to Santo Trastevere to try out the new drinks list, which is an homage to the staff with beautiful bespoke cocktails reflecting their individual characters and passions.
For example, barman Max, with his Nordic roots, has created a signature cocktail combining Jim Beam bourbon, acidified almond milk, egg white and Barolo chinato – basically a fusion riff on a New York sour.
Everyone on the staff has been dedicated a cocktail in this new list, even kitchen hand Gishan, whose mixed drink combines Arrak Old Reserve 42 and Sri Lankan Masala Chai.
While I was at Santo, I also grabbed a bite to eat, including these delicious antipasti, combining a tomato sauce taco and a bruschetta with puntarelle greens and creamy burrata. Yum!
This dish of pasta buttons filled with cacio e pepe was also extremely moreish!
As ever, dinner closed with shots all round of the homemade Santo amaro – Spirito Santo, a blend of bitter genziana and local grappa.
I was also lucky enough to catch a special collaboration between Italian liquor Italicus and guest barman Daniele Gentili in another fun twist.
All in all, my evening was a reminder that visiting Santo Trastevere is always a delicious experience. Apart from being one of the best cocktail bars in town, offering variety and entertainment, its a highly impressive restaurant with daytime co-working options on the next list of Daniele’s plans. Generating a cool atmosphere that is second to none, what’s not to love about Santo Trastevere?
Santo Trastevere | Via della Paglia, 40 | Rome | Italy | Tel +39 06 5837 7020
Testaccina was a guest of Santo Trastevere