I’ve been wanting to come to Marzapane, a fairly new tiny modern Italian restaurant in Rome, since last September but they were always booked! I finally got a reservation and I was curious to try their creative takes on traditional Italian flavors.
The young Spanish chef, Alba Esteve Ruiz, offers three different tasting menus and an à la carte menu; we opted for the à la carte menu so we could both order different dishes.
While all the dishes were absolutely beautifully presented, some of them either lacked in flavor or creativity.
My least favorite dishes of the meal were the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plin, the lamb, and the pre-dessert. First, the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese plin (a type of stuffed pasta) seriously lacked flavor; the sharp nutty flavor of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese wasn’t present and the tomato water and basil foam diluted the entire dish making it bland. Next, the lamb was slightly uninspiring compared to the other dishes on the menu. While the lamb meat was tasty and tender, the accompanying sauce was a sad excuse for a chimichurri; chimichurri is supposed to be a pungent sauce made from fresh parsley, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and white wine vinegar and their version had no resemblance of that. Lastly, the pre-dessert of fior di latte gelato (milk gelato) had no sweetness (maybe that’s what they were going for?) which I didn’t care for.
Now onto the dishes that I enjoyed: the red prawn tartare, beef tartare, and the chocolate dessert. The red prawn tartare was probably my favorite dish of the night. Sweet minced red prawns with creamy Burrata cheese and smoky earthy eggplant cream topped with a delicious sweet yet salty pistachio cookie. The beef tartare was also a great appetizer with an assortment of vibrant pickled garden vegetables and a creamy spiced aioli. Lastly, the chocolate, hazelnut, and cinnamon dessert was so satisfying with moist pieces of chocolate cake, creamy hazelnut cream (a better version of Nutella), and crunchy praline all swimming in a cinnamon peanut butter liquid. Yummy.
Overall, I think Marzapane takes some risks in creativity but still needs improvement in some of their flavor profiles. Perhaps if they didn’t make their own breads and petit fours, they could truly focus on the menu and tweak many of their dishes to become stronger. Therefore, my overall rating is a 6.5-7/10.