When I worked as a concierge of a five-star luxury hotel in the heart of Rome, from time to time it happened to me to talk to the guests who complained on ‘being tired of Italian cuisine’ and asked me to suggest them an ethnic restaurant for dinner and for a change.
As far as I love the infinite mosaic of ethnic flavours myself, I always had a useful list of suggestions for such occasions. And I am proud to say that the choice was always a bingo one.
Thus, if you are a) a person who might get tired of Italian cuisine when on a trip to Rome, or b) a person curious to explore new tastes even if not typical for your travel destination, here are some places to have a look at:
1. Japanese classics at Rokko in Via Passeggiata di Ripetta, 15.
This restaurant boasts an amazing central position, just around the corner from Piazza del Popolo. Its elegant interior, attentive service, authentic flavours and presentation of dishes will make your meal an unforgettable special occasion. Watch out, though, a certain budget will be required to feel really at home at this restaurant. But the experience will certainly be worth every cent spent.
2. Japanese fine street food tradition at Mama-Ya Ramen in Via Ostiense 166a. A new opening, a restaurant situated in one of the most iconic Roman neighbourhoods, that of Garbatella, this place is already praised for its authentic recipes arrived directly from Japan in the caring hands of the famous twice-Michelin-star-awarded Japanese Chef and my good acquaintance Kotaro Noda. Whenever his name is even just mentioned, for me it is a guarantee of quality and excellence of taste. By the way, the Chef himself at the moments works at Bistrot 64 in the whereabouts of Ponte Milvio.
3. Chinese sophisticated tradition at Lin in Via Basento, 70. Mr. Lin is a genius who found the way to melt together the classic tradition of his grandma’s recipes and the fresh ingredients offered by the local Italian suppliers. It is an elegant and sober place I love to return to. It is not the infamous take-away drowned in frying oil, it is the chic and the top of the amazing Mandarin culinary culture. Lin, the owner of the place, is always ready to give suggestions, guiding you through the menu, and accompany the chosen dishes by the detailed explanation of their ingredients, origin and cooking method. Those dishes, in their turn, tell you the personal story of their creator, the story of a Chinese boy with an Italian dream.
4. Persian original flavor at Kabab di Hossein in Via di Grottarossa, 52. Here we are with some home-made spicy dishes, some refreshing yogurt drinks and some nice talks on life with Hossein, the owner of the place, with all his generosity, friendliness and hospitality. To the north of the city centre, hidden as a treasure between the blocks of the residential area, this place is suggestive, cosy, rich in surprises and simply enchanting as Persia itself.
5. Indian taste temple at Krishna 13 in Via Foscolo, 13. In the area of the city that is mostly populated by various ethnic groups and, as a consequence, offers a ray of restaurant choices, this Indian food temple is perfect for those in search of authentic experience. I went there with a friend of mine who had lived for some time in India. She was in ecstasy. I was in ecstasy. My husband had his mouth in flames and in ecstasy. A whirl of spices and consistencies, a very special atmosphere, all this and much more in terms of perception of pleasure carries you away from Rome, immediately and directly transports you to India with all its amazing smells, sounds and tastes.
6. Big international mix at Queen Makeda in Via San Saba, 11. This Grand Pub and its menu will meet each and everyone’s taste. From wok noodles to a juicy burger, from a surprising selection of artisan beers and a beer tap in the middle of your table to an open view kitchen with a sushi belt, this place surprises from the beginning till the very end of your meal taking you from Thailand to Mexico, from the United States to China and back to Italy again. It attracts crowds, and the reason for it is evident: this place is able to satisfy any of your whims even when a big group is concerned.
As a person born and grown up eating potatoes in their numerous forms, formats and incarnations at least five days a week, I am extremely jealous of new culinary experiences and flavour challenges. If you, in one way or another, share my view, try at least one of these places. I am pretty sure you won’t regret it.