Jan 16, 2012

Best museum restaurants in Rome

The combination of Art and Food in a city like Rome is a no-brainer. The illuminated trend of coupling delectable cuisine with paintings and sculptures originated in several European cities, like Bilbao with restaurant Nerua at the Guggenheim Museum, Barcelona, Paris at the Musée d'Orsay, Avignon and St Etienne. Other world museums that have picked up on this idea include the Tate Modern in London, the Winter Palace at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, and The Modern at MoMA in New York City, to mention a few.

Here's what the Eternal City has to offer in terms of museum restaurtants:
Atelier Canova Tadolini Restaurant in Rome

Atelier Canova Tadolini
The studio where Antonio Canova and pupil Adamo Tadolini worked in the early 1800s is now a unique cafe and restaurant, where patrons dine surrounded by plaster replicas and marble fragments of the maestro's scuplture.
Don't miss the sea bass carpaccio with lemongrass sauce, the gnocchi with zucchini blossoms, cherry tomatoes and asparagus tips, or the grilled veal medallions with side of chickory flan.
Via del Babuino 151 (Tridente) Tel. +39 0632110702 - The restaurant is open daily noon to 11pm, cafe opens at 8am.

Bistro Cafe - Chiostro del Bramante
Come for high tea, or to dine on fresh seasonal dishes in the Hall of the Sybils from which, thanks to large glass windows overlooking the church of Santa Maria della Pace, you can admire the famous Raphael frescoes of the "Sibille e Angeli." The menu is perfect for vegetarians with its featured salads, bean soups and bruschette loaded with toppings, all enjoyed while making use of the free Wi-Fi.
Via Arco della Pace 5 (Navona) Tel. +39 0668809035 ext#26 - Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm.
Chiostro del Bramante in Rome

Caffé Capitolino at Terrazza Caffarelli - Musei Capitolini
The breathatking view of Roman tiled rooftops is staggering from the top of the archeological Capitoline Museums, housed in Palazzo dei Conservatori and Palazzo Caffarelli.Visitors can take a breather from all the beauty inside the museum halls by sitting on the terrace of the Caffé Capitolino and ordering freshly squeezed juices, potent espresso or the house specialty salads, which come served in huge bowls.
Piazza Caffarelli (access from the musuem or from top of the giant Campidoglio staircase, turn right and head uphill) Tel. +39 0669190564 - Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 8pm.
Caffè delle Arti in Rome

Caffé delle Arti - Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna
The National Gallery of Modern Art (aka GNAM) nestled in lush Villa Borghese, was built in 1883 to house the modern art of unified Italy. The cafe and restaurant "of the arts" occupies a shady wing of the museum's monumental structure, with a terrace surrounded by trees and greenery. After feeding your soul with masterpieces by Guttuso, Klimt, De Chirico, Pollock, Balla, Calder and Mondrian, fill your body with beef carpaccio, eggplant parmesan, a tasty timballo made with tortellini, and vegetarian cous cous, sprawled on one of the leafy terrace's plush sofas.
Via Gramsci 73 - Tel. +39 0632651236 - Open Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30am to 7:30pm.
Open Colonna in Rome
Photo © Andrea Di Lorenzo

Open Colonna - Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Perched atop Rome's largest interdisciplinary exhibition area, sits an airy transparent open-space loft, which turns into a flickering urban lantern as night falls. Chef Colonna's innovative cuisine combines traditional Roman cucina povera with international and cosmopolitan flavors. Dinner is served upsatirs in the "Gourmet" level, but don't miss the value lunch options offered between Tuesday and Friday, with two buffet menus to choose from at a flat €16 per person.
Stairway entrance at Via Milano 9A (Nazionale) Wheelchair entrance on via Piacenza - Tel. +39 0647822641 - Open Tuesday to Sunday lunch from noon to 11pm.

MACRO 138 in Rome

Museo d'Arte Contemporanea a Roma spells the contemporary art museum's acronym, whose permanent collection offers a selection of some of the most significant expressions of the Italian art scene since the 1960s. The all-organic and biodynamic restaurant housed in a spectacular glass and steel structure, offers buffet lunch and à la carte dinner, with an ever-changing menu largely dictated by seasonal and local availability.
Via Nizza 138 (Nomentano) Tel. +39 068548274 - Open Tuesday to Saturday from noon to 3pm; and 8 to 11pm. Sunday open for lunch only.

The museum of 21st century art is Rome's latest addition. Anglo-Iraqui architect Zaha Hadid's vision was to design a space in which the pleasure of enjoying art (and food) is experienced at 360°. The MAXXI 21 restaurant's menu is based on the concepts of zero food miles, with use of products hailing from the immediate vicinity of Rome, particularly those in season; and zero calories thanks to a delicious menu designed to include only preparations containing less than 250 Kcal.
Via Guido Reni, 4A (Flaminio) Tel. +39 063207230 - Open Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 7pm, and Saturday from 11am to 10pm.
ReD at Auditorium Parco della Musica

If it's music you're most into, and need respite from all the museum-visiting, why not make a stop at Rome's newest concert hall?

ReD - Restaurant and Design at Auditorium Parco della Musica is open from breakfast through to post-dinner drinks, with delectable meals in between. Chef Carelli's cuisine features both classic and innovative dishes, plus interesting artisan microbrewery ales and an impressive winelist. I'm often seen here for evening aperitivo, or to watch the rugby games broadcast on giant screens and mostly, for the pumpkin ravioli with home-churned butter and black truffles, the paccheri pasta with lobster tails, fresh tomato and basil, and the divine lamb shank with sweet pepper tiramisu.

Viale De Coubertin 12-16 (Flaminio) Tel. +39 0680691630 - Open daily from 9am to 2 am.

Jan 6, 2012

Detox after the holiday binge

Taken as a whole, the Italian holiday menu can defeat an elephant.

The food come initiation ritual begins as early as December 8th, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, with mugs of hot chocolate and doppia panna (double cream). Less than a week later comes Santa Lucia, she of the traditional buttery biscuits.

But Mission Impossible opens its real run on Christmas Eve, and continues through New Year's...

After the abuse, there's always a time of abdominal repose and deep repentance. But instead of fasting and making resolutions that involve promising never again to ingest anything other than liquids, I recommend you follow my "Big Eater's post-Feste Detox Ground Rules."

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Jan 4, 2012

Best meals in Rome 2011

Best meals in 2011

I was recently asked by food writer Katie Parla to share thoughts on my best meals, dishes, and food experiences from Rome this year. It was fun to reflect along with notable cooks, fellow food writers and historians, on Rome's best bites of 2011.

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