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Zuma Restaurant Review Rome

So it was our final night in Rome and it was only by chance we found this place because it was recommended to us by a guy in Bocci when I was buying a shirt on the way past after our cocktails in the Stravinskij Bar.

Instead of heading back to the Vatican for our bus back to the hotel we realised it was more or less the same distance in a straight line to the hotel so we thought we would scout out somewhere for another cocktail and maybe some nibbles. I got distracted by Boggi as I had a gander around the store at the Venice train station and we asked for a recomendation for some cocktails nearby and the guy said they do good cocktails and sushi at Zuma at the Fendi store.

Just a short walk up the street and just on a street to the right of the Spanish steps was the Fendi store with the Zuma restaurant taking up the the rooftop terrace with a bar and Japanese restaurant underneath.

It took us a while looking for the entrance to the restaurant / bar inside the store but we managed to find it taking the lift to the top floor. We were met by a concierge at the top who kindly showed us to a table for two on the rooftop terrace. It was around 7pm so still quite early so wasn’t too busy up there and we were hoping for a sofa with better views of the surrounding City horizon but unfortunately they were reserved for groups of 4 or more.

After spending 22 euors per cocktail in Stravinskij Bar i was quite relieved to see the damange of around 12 euros a pop here.

I decided to follow on with another Martini but a more fruity one this time although it wasn’t quite as potent as my previous offering at Stravinskij. Armed with the menu we had a browse through the snack menu when all of a sudden I had the insatiable urge to order one of everything off the menu. We had a quick chat to the waiter who informed us that the resaurant downstairs offered a larger selection of food than the terrace so we decided to book a table ASAP downstairs.

The Restaurant

A short descent one floor in the lift and again we were kindly welcomed by the concierge at the front desk who escorted us to a vacant table, passing the open kitchen with smouldering hot coals kissing juicy chunks of meat sending whafts of smokey bbq scents across the room and a big massive smile on my face.

The decor with dark frames with ambient lighting behind fusuma portraying a traditional japanese building inside.

The Food

The good thing about the Zuma restaurant in Rome is that they have not only 1 restaurant but 3 restaurant menu’s but with the choice of ordering something from each to give you a different take on japanese food on your journey through the evening.

The waitress was ever so helpfull in explaining the menu and giving recomendations on what to order and quantities to suit.

So were weren’t sat in hunger we decided to opt for the spicy tuna sushi as we pondered over the menu, which was like a Japanese tapas / sharing type of afair. This suited us as we could have a little nibble, a bit of wine and order a bit more if we were still peckish rather than have one giant plate, eat the lot, feel bloated, unable to finish the wine and leave feeling sick.

Spicy tuna sushi roll Zuma Rome

Sold to us as spicy, the parcels of rice, with tuna chunks had a smudge of semi spicy mayo esque sauce on top with the standard pickled ginger, wasabi and soy. I don’t mind a little bit of sushi but I’ve been scared after a bout of food poisoning after grabbing a Spicy Tuna wrap at Yo Sushi in Paddington before boarding the train back to Cardiff a few years back.

We wolfed the sushi down, which was good don’t get me wrong but I just feel like i’m eating sushi as it’s healthy and not because i’m actually enjoying it if I’ve got a massive slab of sashimi in my mouth but luckily there were only little slithers of tuna. It was spicyish but not overly spicy for my taste.

coal fired chicken skewers Zuma Rome

Next up were the coal fired chicken skewers. The plate arrived with two skewers with dainty pieces of seasoned chicken wings attached and some fresh lime. This was probably the least exciting plate albeit one of the cheapest. Chicken was edible but it wasn’t in the same league as any of the other plates and there wasn’t much meat after you disect it from the skewers and bones.

chilli squid - prawn and black cod gyoza at Zuma Rome

Still on the bite sized and snack menu, we ordered the prawn and black cod gyoza and a bowl of chilli squid as standard.

Tender rings of squid with a nice crisp and spicy texture to the dish, these were up there with some of the best calamari I’ve tried and boy I’ve tried a few. The gyoza were just devine. A nice caramelisation on the base but silky smooth parcels filled with suculent and juicy nuggets of seafood. I could of eaten two plates to myself.

I think I would of died and gone to heaven if i’d had my way and ordered the Wagyu Tomahawk Steak although it would of cost me more than the 3 day trip to Italy altogether so I opted for the spicy beef tenderloin as a compromise.

Spicy beef tenderloin Zuma Rome

They don’t mess around here and don’t have you waiting long at all for each course. The beef arived already diced into manageble chunks. The meat was so tender, doused in soy, sesame and flecks of chilli. I don’t know how they managed to get beef this soft and melt in the mouth cooked over hot coals but i’m guessing they must of braised it or tenderised it in some kind of soy based marinade first. After my first chunk I immediately remembered buying some beef braising sauce from a Japanse deli a few months back my mind went wandering off thinking of how i could re-create the dish when I got back. This was easily the best plate of steak I’d ever tasted.

soy glazed bbq sweet potato Zuma Rome

After ordering a couple of meat dishes we thought we’d get some vegetables down us too, so we ordered the sweet potato dish. Also fired up over the hot coal they came slightly chared, yet soft in the middle with a delicious, salty soy glaze. These will definitely be making an appearance come BBQ season back home too.

We had probably had more than enough to feed a family of 4 by this point but the waitress finally twisted our arm and we opted for the lamb chops to finish off the main feast as she said it was her favourite on the menu.

lamb cutlets Zuma Rome

Flame licked, crispy lamb fat cooked perfectly pink in the middle. I don’t know how it took me 6 dishes to convince me I needed this lamb in my life but I’m glad I came around to the idea as lamb is one of my fav’s especially gnawing every last crispy morsel off the bone at the end. My innner caveman making an appearance.

Any other waitress would of looked at us in disgust at the amount we had just ate but ours was so lovely and on point with the food and drinks from start to finish. Well we were in Rome so I planned on eating like an Emperor before the curtain closed on our blink and it’s almost over trek across Italy. Dessert it was!

chocolate and Nikka Japanese Whisky dessert Zuma Rome

I was tempted to have a Japanese Whisky on the side with my food but the white wine was flowing ever so well so I decided to opt for some of it in my dessert instead. One hell of a concoction filled my dessert bowl with chocolate parfait, tonka bean marshmallow, Nikka Japanese Whisky jelly and chocolate shards. I’m sure there must of been another 10 ingredients working their magic in there but I couldn’t pick them out.

This was decadent but the whisky jelly wasn’t as potent as I’d hoped and the whisky didn’t come through that well but it was a very good dessert.

banana green tea and peanut caramel dessert Zuma Rome

As we were doing a sharsies one dessert just wasn’t enough so also on the table to share was a banana and green tea cake, coconut ice cream and peanut toffee. This surely was the finishing dish to top off an amazing first experience at Zuma in Rome.

Soft sponge, sweet sticky and nutty caramel puddles complimented beautifully with the coconut ice cream and smashed peanuts. Again I wept a little at the thought of having to hand over half of it although that was probably wise considering the 20 million calories i’d just consumed in such as small space of time.

The Verdict

This was probably the most expensive meal I’ve ever had out but I’d also say it was probably the best dinning experience I’ve ever had to date. We did have a feast fit for an Emperor and the service was first class. The waitress was so attentive filling the wine, checking we were ok, giving recommendations, the speed they delivered each plate was insane. The flames must of just licked the meat with never more than a few minutes from ordering to tucking into each plate but what came was absolutely spot on flavourwise and quality.

We just ordered more of a grazing, tapas style meal but they cater for those looking for premium cuts and quality with the Wagyu tomahawk, lobster etc. I can only imagine how amazing the lobster would of tasted and that will be top of my list if I ever come back again.

I’d go back in a flash and would recommend anyone visiting the Zuma in Rome or any of the other sites around the world if this one was anything to go by.

Price cost around 170 euros but that included two cocktails, bottle of wine, 7 dishes and 2 desserts.

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The Best Gin Martini Cocktail in Rome – Stravinskij Bar

Having tried the best Pizza in Rome and wandering around St Peter’s Basillica with a blistered and beetroot red scalp for a while with no hope of beating the qeueues into the Vatican before close there was only one thing left to do…rehydrate with a cocktail of course!

A quick scout online for the best places for a gin in Rome brought back some good results with a few hidden bars and speakeasy places coming out on top such as Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, Club Derriere and Spirito but none of them opened till around 10pm and it was just pushing 4pm.

One other place that kept coming up was the Stravinskij Bar at the 5* Rocco Forte Hotel de Russie. Aparently they do the best Martini in town and seeing that that’s my tipple of choice we were sold.

Roads were basically at a standstill at this time around the Vatican and google maps reconed it would only take an extra 2 minutes to walk the 1.3 miles from our location so thought this would be a good time to burn off the 3 million calories I’d consumed in the past 48 hours and seeing there was treasure at the finish line we set out on foot armed with my ever frustrating google maps on my phone.

The Bar

We arrived at the hotel after more than a handful of pit stops to browse at bloody crockery as usual. We walked through reception and headed to the back of the hotel where we guessed the bar might be. There were garden chairs and sofas nestled amongst heaters and unopened parisolls on a patio area in a courtyard between the hotel buildings but thought it looked a bit low key considering the reviews we had heard online.

I wandered over to one of the waiters to ask where the bar is and he said you’re in it to my slight dissapointment as we could see terraces overlooking the courtyard embellished in sunlight. Apparently that was the restaurant but the view looked so much better than the patio courtyard below and come on I’m from Wales who knowns when i’m going to actually see the sun again this year.

I wish i’d just ordered a plate of chips looking back now to sit up there with a dirnk but I was parched and needed to rest my little trotters. We pondered over the drinks menu whilst the waitress tempted us with an array of complimentary snacks from mixed olives, a variety of crisps and honey baked almonds. These got me pining for my first Martini of the trip with the tray loaded full of salty favourites and there were more concoctions on the menu than i’ve ever seen.

The Drinks

After some deliberating I opted for the Gold Bond Martini with both gin and vodka with a glimmering display of gold flakes swirling round in the martini glass. Pointing out the obvious it was a potent mix of alcohol, mixed with alcohol watered down with yet more slightly weaker alcohol pimped up with a healthy portion of gold flakes to jazz it up and lemon twist for extra zing.

There were a few others I was torn between but this was a good choice. It was a good job were were just sampling the one (at 22 euros a pop) we just thought we would see what the bar was like but I wouldn’t be steady on my feet after many that’s for sure.

Mwsh opted for a prosecco based fruity number although not of the martini variety. That was ok, had a slight Pimm’s feel to me and at that price I wanted a that hit of alcohol to headbut me in the face but it was a bit to reserved for my liking.

The Verdict

After being a bit disheartened at first not having a seat up on the sun laced terraces I did enjoy the relaxing ambience of the terrace down below (after about 15 minutes of some devil child bawling uncontrollably till the Russain looking child bride and Oil Oliagarch handed over said child to the stone faced nanny who soon got it to sleep).

It was a far cry from the tidal wave of tourists within the Vatican, noisy car and motobikes weaving in and out of traffic and the relentless assault of sales pitches from street reps trying to sell you JUMP THE QEUEUE tickets for the Sistine Chapel.

Ok so 22 euros a pop for cocktails isn’t cheap but this was a 5* hotel and one of the best in Rome at that plus the snacks we got probably would of cost us around 15 euros in any other bar no doubt. If we weren’t so pushed for time and was celebrating a birthday or something I’d definitely stayed to tick off a few more of the Martini’s on the list and would encourage anyone to swing by if you’re in Rome even if it’s just for one.

Romana Taverna Restaurant Review in Rome

Me being me, we didn’t do any prior planning for Rome on where to go, what to see and where to eat so after a bit of wandering around the streets of Rome after a bit of sightseeing down at the Coloseum we stumbled on a building that looked so out of place amongst the weathered, ornamental and dust clad structures with it’s grass coat and illuminous fairy lights drawing our gaze across the city.

I was hungry but fancied a pint whilst we gathered our thoughts and pinpointed our next culinary target to feast upon during our gargantuan expedition to feed our ever gluttonous bellies.

The place was empty but had a ground floor open window with seats that promised views out onto the Roman streets, whilst sipping a beer and eagerly swipping pottential eatteries within walking distance.

By now I was appetite for the only beer I seemed to find Moretti was waivering and luckily for me they had a few craft beers in the fridge. Mine was a Brooklyn IPA pushing 7%.

As the old saying goes “when in Rome…”, we thought we would stay true to the saynig and question the guys working in the bar / coffee shop to find out where the locals hang out and the best place to go for one of Rome’s most famous exports after their love of murder, pillaging, roads, pillars, bridges, auqauducts, arches, statues of micro penises and my favourite pasta dish “Spagetti Carbonara”.

Luckily for us they pointed out a little traditional Italian restaurant on the same street not even 100 yards away called Taverna Romana. A quick gander on Google to check some reviews and we were sold. We finished off the beers and took a walk down using my ever so annoying google maps app, which if you’ve attempted to use whilst walking you would realise my frustrations but luckily for us it was on the same road so even when the app did tell us we were walking in the wrong direction several times we found it quite easily.

We thought we just arrived after a guided tour had been dropped off outside the restaurant as there was a small gathering outside the door so after a few minutes I politely asked one of two of the bystanders if they were qeueing to get in for food. It seems that even though there were a number of other restaurants within spitting distance this is the place everyone wanted to go and as it was quite a small place they fill up quickly and then work on a table out a table in system.

Luckily for us a group of 4 or 5 decided to walk off and 10 minutes later the waitress came out to usher the ones at the front who had made an earlier reservation to their seats. We then asked could we get a table for 2 and she obliged and said thank you and closed the door to a bewildered look from both of us. How long would we have to wait? Who knows but seeing as this was the only place we’d passed gaining an ever expanding qeueue we wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

It was probably only another 10 minutes and the waitress called us in for a table next to the glass fridge.

We had had a browse on the menu whilst waiting outside and were trying to stare each other out to win the decider on who would get to order the Carbonara and to my good fortune I’d come out on top.

The Food

After the previous 24 hours scouring the streets of Venice looking for a proper Italian experience and a menu that epitomised Italian cooking I think we had come out trumps with this little finding.

The Italians don’t seem to do starters as we would know them in the UK and from what we could see just consisted of a charcuterie board and at nearly 15 euros seemed to be more expensive than the mains but they were probably for sharing.

By looking at a selection of menu’s on our travels we realised they tend to opt for a pasta dish for first coars then a meat or fish dish for 2nd course then a dessert if you’re feeling brave.

First thing was first and we sat down with a good bottle of Italian red wine to ponder some more over the menu.

traditional spaghetti carbonara at Romana Taverna in Rome

I opted for the eagerly awaited Carbonara for first coarst and Mwsh opted for the a tomato based Roman inspired pasta dish the Fettuccine alla Romana consisting of veal meat in a rich mushroom and tomato red sauce.

To be fair the front of house and guys hidden behind the wall in the kitchen worked like a well oiled machine from first impressions turning over tables, taking orders and delivering the fresh perfumed scent of ladened pasta dishes to hungry diners.

We didn’t wait long for my first experience of a pasta dish for starter and my first encounter of the Roman born real Carbonara dish. Who ever was on the Pecorino Romano/ Parmigiano Reggiano duties was feeling generous and the spagetti seemed so creamy it looked like they had strayed from the traditional Absolutely No Cream!

The pasta was cooked how it’s supposed to be with a good bite, plenty of cheese on top and the Romans don’t use Pancetta as I once thought, they use Guanciale. This is from the cheeks of fatty pigs unlike Pancetta that comes from the belly. I could tell the difference as there was very little meat on the nuggets of of pork rinds it was predominantly fat with the tinniest of layers of pink meat running through it. Slightly crisp, this gives the meaty flavour and the emulsion of oil to help bind the egg yolks too.

Unlike my bastardised version of the Carbonara featuring half a kilo of garlic per kilo of bodyweight of the peson I’m cooking for some recipes do without any at all using just the cheese, egg yolk, Guanciale and splashes of cooking liquor.

I’m all about flavour so mine combines shallots, shit loads of garlic, mushrooms and a bit of oil or butter to help gloss the mushrooms too. I’m glad I tried this traditional Carbonara but I think my interpretation of the dish was a bit more tasty and packs a bigger punch. I had a fork full of the veal and red sauce dish from Mwsh and that was also good but think I prefered my plate I was chomping on.

Secondi or second course I chose the Polpette or meatballs in red sauce to non locals. not knowing to me but they came just as described on the menu with meat balls and red sauce…and nothing else. It was a good job we ordered some bread and potatoes on the side as these added to a bit of stodge to the plate not that I needed it after a first course of pasta. Mwsh went for the Involtini dish with tender slices of rolled beef in a tomato based sauce and cheese.

Two giant meatballs swamped in a generous helping of red sauce took centre stage on my plate. I gentley crushed my fork into the meaty balls expecting a bit of give with course chunks coming off but but they were so tender and just crumbled under the pressure of my fork. When i’ve cooked meatballs in the past i’ve fried them in the pan or baked them on 200c in the oven usually turning them into something that resembled the conkers in colour and hardness.

Due to the sheer size of these meatballs they must of been baked low and slow in the sauce so they cooked through gently and melted in the mouth. We had to ask this time for some Parmagianno / Pecorino but it balanced the dish perfectly so it wasn’t overly tomato based anymore.

I wasn’t overly fussed on dessert and didn’t have much space for it.

Things started to wind down and I think they waiter and waitresses seemed to take their foot off the gas from being worn out form the converyor of punters through the door that evening as we did ask for the bill but had to wait about 20 minutes for it after asking twice.

Romana Taverna bill and review

The Verdict

I’m glad we found this little gem of a place because the Taverna Romana really did ooze traditional Italian charm. It was so cosy inside with us parked up next to the large glass fridge there was no pretence and you could tell people were just there for the food and on our 3 day trek across Italy we never saw anywhere quite like this place with qeues waiting outside to be seated with a mixture of locals and those who had been lucky enough to stumble upon such a great eatery too.

I did enjoy the Carbonara and they stay true to the authentic recipe without any of the essential items i’ve got in mine although I couldn’t tell if they had a little drop of cream to the mixture as they couldn’t get it that creamy from just cheese, cooking liquor and egg if i’m honest but it was good to try with the Guanciale instead of my Pancetta flavoured back bacon from Cure and Simple to compare.

One of you needs to order the meatballs if you’re going in a pair but make sure you order some carbs or side to go with it as it comes with just the meatballs and sauce. We ordered bread and the delicious roasted and percectly seasoned potatoes. It was a struggle to get the two plates down and I did sit there and have a breather till I had a second wind but I wasn’t leaving till i’d consumed both including the bread and potatoes.

I couldn’t comment on the desserts as I didn’t sample one but what I would suggest is you visit the restaurant earlier in the afternoon or evening to book a table as it was a normal Monday night and they were one in one out waiting for a table. We asked the waitress too and she confirmed it was like that every night, which also goes to show how much in demand a spot is valued by locals and visitors to the Italian City.