Italy is world-renown for its contributions to the culinary world. So much so that the country’s main touristic destinations pride themselves in offering pizza, pasta, gelato in various reincarnations. Rome is not any different; in fact – as Italy’s most visited city – it’s worse.
So on my most recent sojourn to the city, I made a conscious decision to neatly side-step all the tourist traps in favour of more quality offerings. All’Oro restaurant, which is just a short walk from both The Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, was first on my list.
The restaurant first saw the light of day in 2007 when Chef Riccardo di Giacinto – who fell in love with the culinary arts at the tender age of 14 and subsequently spent his formative years training with Ferran Adria and Marco Pierre White – opened a 20-cover restaurant in the Parioli area of Rome. He was awarded a Michelin Star in 2010 and moved the restaurant to its current more centro storico location in 2012.
The keywords I would use to describe All’Oro’s offering run the gammut from inventive to experimental. Maybe even verging on the quirky. Okay – I may or may not have described it as being mad scientist-like once I had a glass of Franciacorta. But all in good faith. Chef Riccardo – who regularly takes time from creating culinary bombs (literally – his famous cappelletti dish actually explodes in the mouth) to talk to his patrons, playfully rearranges and tweaks Roman traditional cuisine.
The most experimental dish is a savoury tiramisu made with salt cod, potato and lardo.
This was the first dish after the amouse bouche so it really set the tone for the entire experience. It is light and airy, which is good because the tasting menu comprises six dishes. We entrusted ourselves into the knowledgeable hands of Chef Riccardo so we really had no idea what was coming next.
It turned out to be ravioli filled with mascarpone, duck ragout and red wine reduction which I can confidently say is one of the restaurant’s less experimental dishes.
Delicious. It’s funny how our brains like the assurance of the recognizable yet long for surprises. The third dish was the aforementioned exploding wonder: Cappelletti in dry broth with parmesan cheese, saffron and lemon. If you look closely at the picture you’ll see even the spoon used to scoop the dish is experimental.
Another one of All’oro’s most popular dishes is the oxtail-coated “Rocher” with celery gelée, which reinvents the Italian classic of oxtail and celery stew so much as to render it completely irrecognisable. I love a good oxtail stew but Chef Riccardo’s take on it is simply delectable. This ended up being my favourite dish on the menu.
Dessert comprises both a pre-dessert (!) and the dessert itself. While the pre-dessert is a light fruity affair, it is the tiramisu that neatly, sweetly and decadently wraps up the whole stellar experience.
When in Rome...: All’Oro Restaurant, Via del Vantaggio 14, 00186 Roma. Tel +39 0697996907, firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices for the tasting menu start at €98 and allows one to choose six courses from the menu.