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Feb 25, 2012 08:15 AM

Recommendations for 25th anniversary dinner in Rome

My wife and I are going to be in Rome for our 25th wedding anniversary in October. We have been to Italy a couple of times previously and have found lots of great meals and incredibly few poor ones. We are looking for recommendations for a place to have a memorable meal for our anniversary.

A few guides as to what we are looking for:

The food itself is always most important. The ambiance should be pleasant, with good service, but we are not looking for a "blow me away" location.

It should be Italian cuisine but can have a "twist". One of our favorite places in Boston is an Italian restaurant with a Peruvian chef who uses some Peruvian foods in his primarily Italian recipes. A place that adapts traditional recipes with modern techniques, for example, would be great.

We tend to lean toward relatively simple recipes done extremely well over elaborate preparations of complex or unique preparations. We once went to a place that made liquid french fries and just went away wondering why bother? Fresh seafood, meat, and pasta with a well planned and executed accompaniment is always great.

I won't say that price is no object but you would have to get what you pay for. A high-end place is fine if the food is worth it.

I appreciate any recommendations you can provide. This is my first post and I hope I haven't gone overboard with the detail but was trying to avoid just asking "What is the best restaurant in Rome?" without giving a sense of what we are looking for.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I'd say definitely go to Metamorfosi. This very new restaurant would hit all of your buttons. It's a great atmosphere, without being stuffy. And while the location is nothing special (Parioli) you don't care about that, so fine! The chef is originally from Columbia, but has been cooking at some of the greatest restaurants in Italy. His cuisine is definitely 'creative' (his sous chef was most recently at Noma) so twists on Italian food is the big thing.

    Not cheap, but the 90 euro tasting menu, which we did, was a complete bargain for the amount and quality of food. We also had the 30 euro wine paring, which was also perfect.

    One last thing: We just spent out 21st anniversary there and were very very happy!


    5 Replies
    1. re: minchilli

      Thanks everyone for the comments thus far. Without getting too much in the middle of the back-and-forth discussion (as I do appreciate everyone's suggestions), I do think that Metamorfosi is much more along the lines of what we were thinking of and may well give it a try. How would you compare it to Pipero al Rex, for which I have seen a lot of great reviews here? Any other choices anyone would like to mention?

      1. re: foodislifelifeisfood

        People have weighed in on the relative merits of Metamorfosi and Pipero al Rex as recently as four hours ago on this thread:

        1. re: Octavian

          Thanks and apologies! I am trying to use the info that's already here but it is hard to search through it to find what I am looking for.

      2. re: minchilli


        We have taken your suggestion and made reservations at Metamorfosi. It looks wonderful! I do have one further question if I may--what is typical attire there? We are certainly willing to dress up appropriately but I am trying to avoid having to pack a sport jacket if one is not needed.

        1. re: foodislifelifeisfood

          Jacket not necessary - my husband wore a dress shirt the first time (evening), a polo shirt the second (lunch). A nice shirt is completely ok.

      3. Without question, Il Pagliaccio. Michelin 2 star and worth every euro.

        It is not Italian cuisine, as such. But you'd never mistake it for being in a different country, as there are Italian influences all over the tasting menu. We ate at over 85 different restaurants last year - this was in the top 5, or so, experiences.


        12 Replies
        1. re: Harters

          Have never been to Il Pagliaccio and will never go. It's not our type of food.

          Having read your description of the dishes, with all due respect, I would take issue with one thing you said i.e. "but you'd never mistake it for being in a different country." If I went to that restaurant and did not know where I was at, one of my last guesses would be that I was in Italy. More likely my first guess would be New York.

          As you said, it is not Italian cuisine as such.

          1. re: allende

            Each to their own tastes, of course.

            I've more experience of Italian food than American food, having visited the country more often.

            1. re: Harters

              I'm puzzled.

              You said that "Now, something distinctly Italian. Cannelloni stuffed with artichoke mousse, topped with smoked sardine."

              I must have been missing something during the last 37 years of going to restaurants in Italy and living here for a good part of the year for the last 20 or so.

              Is this really what you believe is distinctly Italian cuisine?

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Sorry Jen, I forgot about the liquorice foam.

                  @ Harters. Forgot to mention that I wasn't saying that I thought your meal was American food in any way. It isn't; it's fusion.

                  You can see that it is fusion from your description of the dishes (" cuisines much further to the east of Italy) and "A small potato had been turned to a perfect cylinder and then hollowed out to make an extremely thin tube. This had been deep fried to perfect crispness and then stuffed with crab. Alongside, a quenelle of mango. In itself, this absolutely delicious but it was accompanied by something frankly odd – a coconut milk and rice soup."

                  Fusion can be served anywhere. In this case it is served at Il Pagliaccio in Rome, but it could have been in a two star Michelin ( a two star Michelin, by the way, doesn't mean much in Italy) in Paris, London, New York, Chicago or Singapore.

                  When you have a restaurant that serves " a soup of mozzarella and oyster, soft and luxurious, topped with the sharp contrast of a Granny Smith and camomile granite" , that restaurant might be in Rome but really could be anywhere in the world.

                  In contrast, just to pick two other two stars... if you went to Da Renzo or Miramonti l'Altro, no matter what you thought of them, good or bad,, you'd know you were in Italy.

                2. re: allende


                  Yes, I felt the dish was distinctly Italian. All three elements of the dish said "Italy" to me. Putting them together said it even louder.

                  Yes, I agree the cuisine is fusion which is why, in my review, I wrote "It’s not an Italian meal, as such, rather a meal with some Italian culinary influences". I presume you missed that bit in your rush to create the perfect put-down

                  Of course, I have never lived in Italy, not have I been visiting Italian restaurants for 37 years/. It is, inded a great put-down - one of the best I can recall on the board. I'm sure the OP will have now realised that my views are worthless and iis waiting with bated breath for your recommendations :-)

                  1. re: Harters

                    Anyway the OP now has more info about Il Pagliaccio. In my experience (not of this restaurant) most Italian restaurants that offer Italian cuisine with a "touch" or "twist" dont go quite as far a the meal youve described - mostly they are fairly conservative in their variations. Licorice aside, I enjoyed reading about your meal.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Interesting to see what has happened to Il Pagliaccio in the Gambero Rosso guide, for whatever it's worth.

                      In 2011, it was vaulted into the top restaurants in Italy with a rating of 91. Usually, in fact I can never recall another instance where this wasn't so, once it is in that "exalted company" (some really mediocre restaurants in that exalted company), it stays there for a number of years, at least. That is, the Gambero Rosso never promotes a restaurant to a 90 and above, and then takes the rating away the next year.

                      That is, however, what happened with Il Pagliaccio. From an 88 in 2010 to a 91 in 2011 to an 89 this year and with one snide remark this year. Now perhaps the Gambero Rosso realized it made a mistake in putting this restaurant in its top category and adjusted its rating this year. Or perhaps, this year is a mistake and the restaurant will regain its glory in the guide next year. We'll wait with bated breath.

                      Just for clarification, that soup of mozzarella and oysters (no oysters in Italy) topped with Granny Smith and camomile granite, was really burrata and oysters
                      topped with Granny Smith and camomile granite. That changes everything and now the soup makes perfect sense in an Italian restaurant :)

                      1. re: allende

                        Just for clarification, is burrata not a mozzarella then?

                        1. re: Harters

                          Burrata is buratta and mozzarella is mozzarella. Totally different in texture, consistency and flavor. Is burrata partially made from mozzarella... of course.
                          Does burrata look like mozzarella. Of course. Ah, but the inside of burrata, so, so different, as is the taste.

                          1. re: allende

                            Thanks. I'm pleased my review was not inaccurate.

                            Hopefully this will now allow the OP to decide if the restaurant meets his spec (pleasant ambiance, good service, Italian with a twist). Certainly if I was in Rome wanting to celebrate a Silver anniversary, I could think of nowhere better. I'd be back in a heartbeat (although our 40th will be celebrated here in the UK)

                            1. re: allende

                              But isn't burrata a mozzarella "skin" stuffed with cream of some sort?

            2. Chowhound is one of the most interesting forums around. it always amazes me to see how foreigners and foreigners who live in Italy look at Italian cuisine and how much Italian food is somewhat mistaken with traditional food. Anybody who knows me, know that I have the greatest respect for traditional cuisine as much as I have for creative cuisine. Reading the answers in this topic one question comes to mind and concerns the essence of Italian cuisine today. Fusion is still Italian as much as creative cuisine. The introduction of some ingredients which are not italian as such does not make that cuisine not Italian. The greatest chefs in Italy have some ingredients that come from far east or far west but nobody would classify them as not italian.
              Italian cuisine has evolved as anything else in any other field. A Versace or Armani shirt with an English word printed on top does not make that shirt not italian, so why would a mango quenelle would be out of place in Italian cuisine? My father would eat a mango everyday about 25 years ago... A building made out of glass or a skyscraper in the center of Milan does not make that bulding a foreign building, so why smoked sardines should be considered something not distinctive italian, considered that my mother's fav food is smoked sarde with lemon juice oil and bread? The restaurants mentioned here (Metamorfosi, Pipero) are Italian but the Noma effect through John at Metamorfosi and Luciano's background at Pipero live in the real world and they travel, they read, they go to Piazza Vittorio (The Market for ethnic food in the center of Rome) and it is absolutely normal they use and enjoy foreign ingredients. Now, if anybody wants to eat traditional roman (because we can't say italian, it's roman traditional food) is one thing but stating that anybody who cooks something different than Amatriciana or cacio e pepe does not cook italian, well, that is something I don't agree with. PS btw, liquorice is italian more than many other ingredients (try and find real liquorice abroad!), don't find that much around the world and the use in Italian cuisine is just a new and intelligent way to highlight one of the best products we have in Italy. Amarelli is making a beer and a grappa with liquorice: would we want to say Amarelli is making a non italian drink? PS2: I would not really stress what happened to Il Pagliaccio in the gambero Rosso Guide. This was the guide that 15 days after printing the Roman guide in which it assigned 3 forks to Tassa, took them away in the National guide because...we really don't know. This is the guide that this year has assigned over 80 to the wrong restaurant (OS Club, but really meant Jolanda which was already closed) and several other "little" things which can be easily found on the web.

              2 Replies
                1. re: cristinab

                  Thank you for the excellent and articulate post.