Review: Retrobottega.

One of the only new restaurants I tried during my recent visit to Rome was Retrobottega.

It’s been on my list for a few years now and we just never got around to dining there. A few weeks before our visit, the restaurant actually closed and did a revamping of their concept/menu. Prior to our visit, it was strictly a tasting menu (carnivore or vegetarian) costing around €180. Now the restaurant is more casual with an à la carte menu or a less expensive tasting menu option. I was a slightly bummed that they changed their concept literally right before our visit so I was little apprehensive on how the food was going to be with this new change.

Chef’s Counter Seating.

We ended up going with the à la carte menu as the tasting menu was just dishes off the à la carte.

Grissini and Homemade Bread (8/10).

Italians love their grissini aka breaksticks!

Chicken Liver Pâté with Focaccia (8/10).

A solid appetizer started off our meal. The chicken liver pâté was creamy as it should be and I really loved the warm focaccia rolls on the side. The cherries on top of the pâté weren’t as juicy and sweet as I would have hoped since they are in season. If the fruit was in peak condition, it would have really amped up the flavors.

Interpretation of Insalata Russa (8.5/10).

This cold salad was refreshing with so many nuances of texture. The crisp textures of the vegetables with the creamy tuna and mayonnaise along with the crunchy crackers made for a successful dish.

Risotto of Yellow Squash and Elicriso (9-9.5/10).

Hands down the best dish of the night was this impeccable risotto. I never order risotto because I tend to prefer pasta over rice and it’s rarely ever done well. It’s a hard dish to master as the overall texture of the rice should be creamy and homogenous but each grain of rice should still maintain texture with a slight bite. As you can see from the picture, the texture was perfection! The risotto was flavored with yellow squash alla scapece where the vegetable is fried and then marinated in vinegar. The risotto was finished off with elicriso, a type of shrub found in Italy.

Tonnarelli with Wild Garlic and Pecorino Romano Cheese (7.5-8/10).

While I loved the actual pasta, the texture of the tonnarelli, I wanted the wild garlic flavor to be more pungent and in your face. The preserved lemon and Pecorino Romano cheese did add a depth of flavor that the dish was lacking.

Local Fish with Sauce Meunière and Asparagus (6.5-7/10).

I can’t recall the name of the local fish that they used as it was something that I don’t eat back home. It was a white firm fish, slightly meaty, served with asparagus and a simple butter sauce with capers and lemon. I felt like the dish was slightly elementary and lacked excitement.

Pigeon with Apricot and Swiss Chard (6.5-7/10).

While the pigeon flavor itself was tasty, the skin could have easily been rendered better as it didn’t have that crispy skin. I also felt that the the dish was lacking in a wow factor.

Basque Cheesecake (6/10).

I should have known that there’s no way their version of a basque cheesecake could top one of the best basque cheesecakes I’ve had back home from BASUKU. It just didn’t even come close in terms of texture, flavor, and technique.

Peach Melba (7.5/10).

Their modern interpretation of a peach melba was pretty good but I wanted more peaches to be honest.

Overall there were some hits and misses at Retrobottega. For Rome’s standards, this is quite modern cooking but there were a few technical flaws for a few dishes. By far the strongest dish was the risotto, a dish that I will be thinking about for years to come so I would come back solely for that. Therefore my rating is a 7.5/10.

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