Living in Umbria - we are very much into cooking the local food of our region - lots of pulses, pork, truffles, salumi and the best salsicca. Cooking for us is all about simplicity and seasons - don't do too much and keep your ingredient list short - but fresh.
Another regional kitchen that is very close to our hearts is the Roman kitchen - this was the very first time - well almost 28 years ago - that we tasted the real stuff - and it was in Rome - we had just meet each other - and it was love at first sight......
Ever since - whenever we visit Rome - we always end up with a few of the classical dishes - being it a beautiful cooked carciofo, puntarella alla Romana, the creamiest Carbonara or the most tender and perfectly grilled baby goat......you name it - we eat it....
BUT - every once in a while - you feel like something a bit different - of course italian - but still different in the way the dish is composed, the texture, the seasoning or the presentation. This is why we are so happy we finally made it to one of our new favorite spots in bella Roma - Ristorante Marzapane - just next to the Borgese gardens.
The restaurant was opened in 2013 by the 2 friends Mario e Angelo - they wanted to create a warm and inviting space - with all the traditional flavors, smells and produce - but again slightly different - a more modern approach, but with the greatest respects of the traditions and the raw materials.
The result is a very welcoming place - modern interior, a front of house staff, who really cares for the guests and wants to make you feel comfortable and welcome - not so easy to find in Rome at times. The wine list is packed with great finds - especially on the organic side with lots of the new and upcoming vineries from Lazio - so stay local.
The kitchen is run by the young spanish chef - Alba Esteve Riuz - within 2 years she has already created quite a buzz on her cooking.
Well - now on to the food...the restaurant operates with 2 set menus at each service - for lunch you can choose either with meat or fish - at least 2 persons at the table have to eat the same menu - but they are quite happy to make smaller changes. In the evening menus are slightly bigger and more elaborate.
We went for lunch - and this could probably be the best offer in town - a 4 course menu is just € 39 - admitted the portions are on the smaller side - but for lunch it is great.
We started of with the sweetest prawns - made as a tartare and served with a bit of burrata, smoked egg plant salsa and small pieces of "brutti ma buoni" made with pistacio.
Second course was a revelation - a very creamy risotto made with salted anchovies and sprinkled with candied ginger - see recipe below.
Main was a very succulent piece of baccala with roman kale and a smokey sauce.
The finish of we had a mille feuille with caramelized white chocolate, peanuts and salted brittle.
The bill came to € 98 - with a great bottle of wine from Andrea Occhipinti - an Aleatico made "in bianco".... what more can you ask for...
Make sure to make reservations.
Via Velletri 39
This riso is best served as a starter.
75 g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
10 anchovy filets
400 g risotto rice, we use Canaroli
200 ml dry white wine
1 liter chicken stock
25 g parmesan, grated
sea salt and black pepper
40 g candied ginger, finely chopped
small herbs for garnish (optional)
Melt half the butter in a medium sized sauce pan and saute the onion for 15 minutes on medium to low heat without taking any color.
In another pan bring the stock to a boil.
Now add the anchovies to the onions, the heat will make the fish melt into the onions. Once this has happened, add the rice and give it a good stir. Pour in the wine and bring it to the boil.
Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the ladles of the warm stock, one at the time. Once your rice has absorbed the first ladle add the next - continue in this fashion until your rice is cooked al dente - about 20 minutes. Once al dente - remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the butter and the parmesan.
Remember a risotto should be quite loose, almost soupy and should be able to make the "wave" in the pan when you shake it. If it has gotten too firm, add some more stock.
Season with salt and pepper. Serve on plates and sprinkle over the chopped ginger and the small herbs - if using.