Walking along Via dell'Arancio you could be mistaken for missing Hotel Vilon. This luxury boutique hotel sits inconspicuously in Rome's high end Tridente shopping district and is an elegant and nicely hidden plush gem. The in-house restaurant Adelaide, is an ode to the Princess Borghese, former resident of this historic site. Procida native, Chef Gabriele Muro has devised a stylish and eclectic menu that brings together his coastal heritage, international experience and local produce. Seasonally changing, find dishes like his gragnano grain spaghetti 'ajo, ojo e baccalà' with salt cod, the roast octopus (polpo in Italian), entertainingly entitled Polp Fiction and one of his signature dishes, the tender braised veal cheeks on the menu. The roman classic pastas including the carbonara and amatriciana make an obligatory appearance too. Open at lunch and dinner, enjoy the warm hospitality of Adelaide away from the chaos of Rome. Be sure to say hi to Magdalena Rodriguez, the expert bar mixologist who will prepare a spectacular aperitif or after dinner drink for you. METRO: Spagna
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Modern and elegant dining, right by the Colosseum is a win-win combination.
Maria's expert tip: Arrive early and have a ridiculously good cocktail in the lounge bar.
Mirabelle is perched on the 7th floor of the luxurious Hotel Splendide Royal and is home to one for the most elegant terraces in Rome. Unobstructed views of everything from the Pantheon to the dome of St Peter's Basilica can be enjoyed from the roof garden which acts as a magical panoramic space all year round. Executive Chef Stefano Marzetti and Food and Beverage Director Luca Costanzi run the show here and what a delightful show it is. Their impressive wine cellar boasts a never-ending selection of Italian and international labels (over 700 to be exact) and the refined menu with gourmet touches will delight even the fussiest of fine diners. In addition to the a la carte menu, there are three tasting menus to choose from, including Rome's current complete gluten-free degustation consisting of 5 delectable courses. The classic decor with the live piano gives it an olde world cabaret feel. One thing's for sure: the meal, the staff and lively atmosphere will more than impress. The view will leave you speechless. Metro: Barberini.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: What could be more romantic than dinner with a view of the Eternal City? Mirabelle delivers on both levels!
Maria's expert tip: Try to get in before the sun sets for a pre-dinner cocktail with unforgettable views of the city.
Coincidently, Domenico Stile's surname means 'style' in English. And it couldn't be a more appropriate description for the service, cuisine and location of Enoteca La Torre. This fine-dining establishment is housed within the elegant Villa Laetitia - a property owned by the Fendi family, of international fashion house fame. Again, a fitting location for Stile's philosophy because the stunning Art Deco interiors, particularly the floor-to-ceiling glass arched doorways that look out on to the property gardens, are as impressive and refined as his plates. Born in the Gulf of Naples, he began his career at age 15 and it has taken him across Italy and even as far as Chicago. In Italy, he learned from the best having worked with Antonio Cannavacciuolo, Enrico Crippa and Massimo Bottura - to drop just a few names. He and his brigade have managed the kitchen here since 2016 and at 30, is of the youngest chefs in Rome to have a coveted star in the Michelin Guide. He is accompanied by talented sommelier Rudy TravagIi who impeccably leads the wonderful service team. The dishes here provide the perfect balance between Stile's technical capabilities and his passion for innovation and outstanding produce. His amuse bouche can include anything from toasted pasta parcels filled with carbonara to a play on the Ferrero Rocher with hazelnut-encrusted blue veined buffalo cheese balls. Highlights on the entree and first course list include tuna tartare with beetroot, Greek yoghurt and a roasted rabe broth; red shrimp with cardamom, stracciatella cheese, caviar, citrus essence and mint croquettes; pasta filled with 'coda alla vaccinara' (Roman-style braised oxtail); amatriciana semolina rice with a smoked squid twist; and a divine risotto infused with lemons from Amalfi. Take your pick for second courses with one of the standouts being the flame-grilled duck with coriander, offal croquettes, fennel chutney and blood orange. Like all the perfectly presented dishes, desserts are a treat for all the senses, particularly the adventurous meringue and biscuit crumble with wasabi sorbet. Outside the a-la-carte menu, there are two (blind) tasting degustations to choose from 5 courses at E95 or 7 at E130 (excluding beverages). Closed Sunday and Monday at lunch.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Stunning art deco details with outstanding elegant dishes to match.
Maria's expert tip: The evening is special, but a daytime visit with light filtering the gorgeous glass doors won't disappoint.
If a change really is as good as a holiday, it looks like this guy has had ten of them! One of Rome's most prominent and talented chefs (Michelin stars and various awards under his belt) caused an uproar in early 2019 when news of him leaving the historic Hotel Hassler was no less shocking for the Roman food world than what would have been, say had John Lennon left the Beatles at the height of their fame! Francesco Apreda made the controversial move after more than a decade and so Idylio was born. Set within the five-star luxurious design Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel, the philosophy here is rebirth and it can truly be felt. The menu is devised by three distinct tasting menus (6, 7 and 8 courses, 120, 140, 160 euro respectively) and each dish can be ordered individually as you choose. Highlights include the panko-crumbed scallop with black truffle and a surprise buffalo mozzarella center, Apreda's takes on the roman classics 'Pollo ai Peperoni' (his is slow-cooked for 4 days) and 'Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino' (this version is served with angel hair pasta and topped with smoked eel), and a delectable, sensory journey with a four-way prepared foie gras. As always, Apreda's travels through Japan and India and his Neapolitan heritage can be savored throughout the menu. Apreda is supported in the state-of-the-art kitchen by the talented head chef Francesco Focaccia, sous chef Luca Caporilli and pastry chef Edvige Simoncelli. Around 600 labels make the wine list with more to come and the impeccable dining floor service led by Alessandro D'Andrea makes you feel right at home, a rarity in many fine dining establishments. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Bookings can be made online. Tram: 8, 3.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cozy up for great food and cocktails with a side of jazz!
Maria's expert tip: Bookings are a must and can be made online. Head over early in the warmer months to have a drink on the Divinity rooftop terrace.
Young Roman chefs who take a risk with the drive to open their own restaurant in this current Italian economy must be applauded. And Antonio Ziantoni is the latest to venture out on his own after stints in some very reputable dining establishments. For four years he worked with Anthony Genovese of Rome's two-Michelin starred Il Pagliaccio and even with England's Gordon Ramsey. He chose Trastevere - a neighborhood in need of dining evolution - and his could very well be the Rome restaurant opening of the year. His stellar curriculum and talent will certainly stand him in good stead. The interiors and fit out at Zia are an ode to those all too familiar Scandinavian lines infiltrating the city but with Made in Italy design touches, Ziantoni and co. have truly made it their own. With less than 30 covers, it's an intimate space and away from the more crowded zones of the quartiere. The menu will attract a crowd looking for quality and innovation on the plate, but the prices are extremely reasonable for Trastevere and for the refined technique you find on the plate. There are 5 entrees,5 first course and 5 main courses to choose from as well as a 5-course tasting menu (55 euro) and a 3-course lunch menu (30 euro). The menu will change each season and some of the current highlights include lamb sweetbreads with mozzarella and tomato; a delectable pulled pork salad; panzerotti with smoked cockerel; and a most tender lamb and mustard dish. And when it comes to dessert, Christian Marasca's delights don't disappoint, especially the spectacular Tourbillon. If innovative fine dining is what you're after in Rome but you don't want to break the bank, Zia certainly won't disappoint. TRAM: 3 8. BUS: 75, H.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fine dining without being stuffy, Zia is perfect for a special romantic outing.
Maria's expert tip: Let the chef treat you to a degustation that you won't soon forget.
Sleek and chic. If Retrobottega was one of Rome's hottest addresses for contemporary dining before, its recent restyle has sure taken it up a notch. Located right in the heart of the city, between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, there are only 26 seats at this modern eatery so you'll have to book to get a seat. The venue has two dining spaces that are centered around the open kitchen so not only do you get to taste Giuseppe Lo Iudice and Alessandro Miocchi's creations, you see their artistic preparation unfold right before your eyes. These young and experienced chefs (they count brands and names like Bulgari, Anthony Genovese, Il Pagliaccio and Enrico Crippa between them) are all about refined, seasonal dishes in a convivial, minimalist setting. Walking in off those off those old cobblestoned streets is a contrast from old and new and the design features and lighting stand out right away - here, your cutlery is built into the specially designed high top tables which always make for a great conversation starter! You can choose to dine from the menu or a 5-course degustation (where you select two starters, a first and second course and dessert) for 50 euro. The menu changes frequently but think squid and wild boar tartare for entree and first courses like blueberry and veal shank risotto or sea eel and fennel tortellini. On the main course list, you'll find anything from cuttlefish to pork to pigeon. Dessert is a decadent affair too with an almond, licorice and raisin delight or heartwarming chocolate and salted caramel treat. The wine list is extensive and the staff is super knowledgeable and friendly. Open daily for lunch and dinner. BUS: 64, 70, 85.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Classy, fun and contemporary dining in Rome doesn't get much better than this.
Maria's expert tip: Look for your cutlery in a cute drawer built into the custom design tables.
Rome's Ristorante All'Oro has a new home and a stylish one at that! Chef Riccardo di Giacinto and his partner Ramona Anello have just unveiled their 5-star boutique hotel The H'all Tailor Suite and All'Oro (not new to Rome, formerly in Via del Vantaggio) sit like a jewel in her crown. This is not your average hotel restaurant but in a sense, a fine dining restaurant with hotel rooms. Riccardo and Ramona have thought of every particular detail to make you feel as though you're dining at their place! The restaurant is fitted with plush and luxury colorful interiors and everything from the charcoal fabric covered tables to purple velvet sofa seats are designed with client comfort in mind. The menu brings the same fun and spunk to their age-old signature dishes with a few new ones on the list. Some of the standout dishes included the potato and salt cod tiramisu; a deconstructed carbonara cream in an eggshell; mascarpone ravioli with duck ragu and red wine reduction; and the cheeky take on the old Roman classic, a ball of coda alla vaccinara (slowly braised oxtail) that resembles the Ferrero Rocher chocolate. The fun doesn't end after dinner with a mirror prop arriving at your table for a Snow White 'mirror mirror' moment complete with small apple delights to cleanse the palate. All'Oro is a gastronomic journey that surprises and makes you smile at every turn.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cozy and warm interiors and award-winning cuisine, All'Oro is the perfect romantic combination.
Maria's expert tip: Bookings here are essential and there's also a boutique hotel here if you want to take romance further!
Located in the heart of Rome's Trastevere, an area full of casual trattorias and bars, Glass Hostaria stands out as a contemporary gem. With a Michelin Star, Cristina Bowerman and her team deliver fine dining in a sophisticated, yet relaxed atmosphere. The fine dining menu is inventive as modern as the interiors and the wine cellar is as impressive as one would expect of an establishment of this caliber. With an international and local crowd, the menu changes seasonally and a degustation experience is the best way to sample the outstanding selection. Tram: 8, Bus: 23, H.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Fine and innovative dishes in a timeless contemporary setting.
Maria's expert tip: Don't go past Cristina Bowerman's steak tartare - it is the best in Rome.
what began as a hole-in-the-wall in Trastevere, Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina has slowly and quietly evolved into a Roman institution. It's one of the hottest addresses in town and brings together high quality ingredients, contemporary style and service with a smile. You can take a seat on one of the open kitchen bar stools, in the eclectic main dining area or in their pretty, fairylight filled garden. Start off with their homebaked focaccia (the one topped with prosciutto, basil and fig jam never disappoints) and then opt for one of the fresh daily past specials or a the classic, baccaburger - squid ink bun and a delectable salt cod and zucchini flower filling. The ever changing desserts are also an event. The place is packed at both lunch and dinner, so bookings are recommended. TRAM: 8
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Nothing says romance like views from atop the Spanish Steps in Rome.
Maria's expert tip: Try the 'baccaburger' a burger with a squid ink bun and baccala (salt cod). It's absolutely to die for!
For those looking to add a little more bling to their dining experience and when money isn't a question, eating at La Pergola restaurant is the icing on the cake. It will turn your Roman Holiday into the ultimate Dolce Vita experience. The exclusive restaurant located on the rooftop of the swanky Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It boasts the best view of the city thanks to its prime position perched atop the Monte Mario hill of Rome. With 3 Michelin stars, it is ranked among the top 50 restaurants in the world. The sommelier can advise you on the best pairing of wine (over 1800 labels) to choose from with your meal. Award-winning chef, Heinz Beck whips up refined and innovative dishes such as veal fillet with black truffles and apple puree, carpaccio of scallops on amaranth, and beef tartare on liquorice-gelatine with caviar. Expect to pay a pretty penny (at least 150 euro a person and that's on the low-end of the spectrum). BUS: 913.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: La Pergola is the best restaurant in Rome, if not Italy.
Maria's expert tip: You will need to make your reservation at least two months in advance.