Rome / Zia restaurant: a 'non-Roman' in Trastevere
A one hour delay of my flight from Luxembourg was not enough to ruin my mood on the way to the eternal city, a few years later the last time I walked its historical cobblestone pavements.
The 25 degrees of Fiumicino, a kind of heat that glues to your body like an additional layer of clothes, made me smile, thinking about the time where, for a summer, I was crossing Largo Argentina and Pantheon, wrapped in suit and tie, on my way to the office.
This time, the destination was a different one: via Mameli 45. Trestevere. But not the lively and picturesque part of the neighborhood we are used to know.
High ceilings, Nordic tables and seats (it has become the standard nowadays), pending lights and dark green/blue walls.
24 seats, distributed on two floors, in a relativity dark dining room, enlightened by the charming smile of Ida and the courtesy of Marco, rigorous and friendly in the service. Inside the plates, the world of Antonio Ziantoni.
A world that is very personal, because built around the experiences in France, UK and Rome. A world that proudly leaves Rome and it ‘romanity’ outside the doors of the restaurant and brings in only a few products from local producers.
The cuisine is good and contemporary, without being particularly creative. While this could disappoint a few, it shows the maturity of a guy that is only 32 years old, and the awareness that experimenting is a long road that requires financial solidity and resources in the kitchen.
The french influence is dominant in the menu, present in sauces and cooking techniques, mostly direct and express. There is very little ‘manipulation’ of the ingredients and few ‘stylistic exercises’.
The field where the chef exalts himself is the use of the bitterness: not at all the easiest of the tastes and certainly not the favorite of many. The chef though does not show any sign of fear or doubt.
On the contrary, bitterness is everywhere: gin to pair oyster and cucumber, tarragon leaves to garnish the mussels and sea urchins cold spaghetti, green sauce to accompany the stewed beef tortelli, wild herbs as filling of a yuba taco with pork and charcoal mayo. Bitterness is where the ‘grandeur’ of Antonio is!
Note - The service really deserves a special kudo: young but expert, familiar but professional, friendly but elegant. Perfect.