Trattoria Verbano is the first piece in the puzzle designed to create a new dining district in Rome’s Trieste neighbourhood.
Situated right on Piazza Verbano, it’s a good looking bistro-style restaurant encapsulating the best of Roman trattoria fare, while simultaneously creating a comfortable and elegant ambience in its multi-level venue.
For the owners, Trattoria Verbano marks the first of three projects destined for this neighbourhood. They’re involved in the relaunch of cocktail bar Poste – Telegrafi, on the same piazza, which is set to become a bistro; and are also turning a former antiques shop over the road into a juice and healthy food bar – both expected by the end of the year.
But for now, let’s focus on the Trattoria Verbano experience, which launched in the spring, and whose menu is guided by the expert hands of consulting chef Marco Morello (The brains behind Foodbox Testaccio, dining at Drink Kong and more).
With Fabio Masci and Mirko Pappalardo in the kitchens executing the dishes, Morello has woven a narrative of Roman cuisine across his menu, representing local anecdotes in food form.
The recipes are often designed for sharing and sopping up with wedges of bread, hitting seasonal high notes whilst cherishing Roman tradition.
In fact, in this review, I’m going to linger over the excellent antipasti, which are a lot of fun in their own right and exceptionally tasty. These ranged from €5-€7 per portion.
We ordered a few different dishes for the table to share, starting with the excellent, crispy and suitably gooey suppli pictured above. Then we got stuck into this extraordinary plate of beans sauteed in red wine.
The Trieste neighbourhood can feel fairly removed from Rome’s salt-of-the-earth rioni, with its art nouveau villas and well-to-do residents. The Trattoria Verbano project is designed to bring the flavours of Testaccio and Garbatella to this district, and it does so in some style.
The ‘fake tripe’ dish, pictured above, is a piece of Roman history, made from strips of egg frittata, harking to the days when even tripe was a luxury good and enterprising housewives sometimes had to come up with an alternative, baked in tomatoes.
Worthy of note too was this panzanella draped in fragrant baccala (above), as well as these wonderfully flavourful calamari bruschette, made from sauteed and seasoned squid. Exquisite.
The ‘primi’ menu was very promising, with prices ranging from €10-€14 per dish. My first course consisted of these creamy ravioli filled with pork and juniper berries, with honey in a Parmesan fondue. Delicious.
My dining companions tried an amatriciana with guanciale sourced from Proloco Dol, one of the best deli resources in the city; tonnarelli with fresh tuna ragu (pictured above) and fettuccine with oxtail and cocoa (below). The standard of the dishes were very high, and what I liked best was how they plundered Roman tradition while offering lighter options.
From the second course menu, I sampled a tasty filled squid served with red wine sauce, and ordered a hearty dish of roast lamb on an egg and pecorino sauce. This was a tremendous dish, which I paired with bitter, re-fried chicory. (Expect to pay €14-€16 for a second course).
Another fantastic dish – and essentially a side-course – was this dressed celery, named after iconic Roman chef Sora Lella, whose trattoria lives on to this day on Isola Tiberina. Again, the menu demonstrated its loyalty not only to Roman traditions but also Roman heroes.
The dessert menu was fantastic, including this sour cherry tart.
But my favourites included this cool parfait with melon and mint.
Also worth trying was this wonderfully rich zabaglione gelato with almond brittle.
All in all, this was a fantastic experience, successfully bringing the flavours of Rome’s feistiest neighbourhoods into its northern quarter. With friendly prices and a good wine list, this goes straight onto my list of places to come back to.
Trattoria Verbano | Piazza Verbano 23 | Tel 0039 06 4550 7502
Testaccina was a guest of Trattoria Verbano