Saturday, 27 February 2016

Restaurant review | Stazione di Posta, Roma



On my recent trip to Rome, one of the foodie highlights simply had to be the taster menu at Michelin-starred Stazione di Posta. This may have been a mission to find and that’s no understatement – it’s in the middle of nowhere and everything on the neighbouring streets is boarded up or closed – but my, was it worth it! Housed in Rome's old abattoir, this open space makes you feel as though you’re stepping out on to a ranch, but once inside, the vibe is totally different and they’ve done well to make it really beautiful.

Upon arrival, we were met by the concierge class staff who took our jackets and reservation, before guiding us to the table. The restaurant was so spacious and there was plenty of room between tables, which was ideal, especially considering all the plates we were about to devour. While minimalist in terms of decor, the restaurant was lovely and so well-lit.

As well as an a la carte menu, there are two options of taster menus: one five-course and the other seven. There’s also the option to add wine and cocktails for a supplement, which works out better value than ordering by the glass, or bottle. I always knew I would go for the five-course menu, as seven would be far too much. This was definitely the right decision, because before we had even started, we received a selection of freshly baked breads and grissini.
After digging into the beautiful breads: onion, rosemary and granary, we sipped an aperitif, which was one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails. I can’t remember what it contained exactly, but there was definitely ginger beer and plenty of booze – it was still enjoyable. Then  became the excitement. Three members of staff brought several plates and trays to the table and my eyes lit up, because there were so many exciting savoury bites! I didn’t know where to start, but luckily everything was explained to us first. The real egg shell contained a carbonara sauce with a piece of pasta and large bacon lardon; the savoury cone was ricotta and sundried tomato with bacon; the test tube was a cheese sauce, with mussel powder and the savoury Mikado was a spaghetti stick coated with spinach. The highlight was the pork bun with cucumber and mustard mayo, it almost wanted to be Asian. This really set the benchmark for the rest of the evening and luckily we didn’t have to wait long for the next course.
The first course was a beautifully cooked fillet of cod, topped with wild rice and served with slices of dehydrated vegetables. It looked so pretty and colourful, but upon serving, an onion broth was added to strengthen the flavours. It really brought the plate to life. The fish simply flaked off the fork, the vegetables were still crunchy, despite sitting in the broth and it was such a light meal.
I had the rigatone surf & turf, or ‘mare e monti’ to follow. This was a wonderfully vibrant dish of rigatone pasta cooked in fish broth, with a traditional cheese sauce, chorizo, mussels and squid. Apparently the Italians make a pizza equivalent of this, but I don’t think I would try that. The pasta was the nicest I’d ever had, you could tell it was handmade and cooked to perfection, there was still that bite there. The meaty combination of seafood and sausage was divine and there was just enough there.
The next course was another good one: belly of pork with smoked fondant potato, apple jelly and wholegrain mustard. I’m not usually a fan of pork belly because it’s so fatty, but this had a decent meat-to-fat ratio and where it had been slow-cooked, it was just so soft. The flavours were so good, almost like sweet barbecue – and complemented the paprika potato well. None of the components were dry but I definitely could have done with more apple and mustard.
Zuppa Inglese was the dessert, which surprisingly wasn’t a soup. I was genuinely expecting a liquidised fruit sorbet or thin custard but instead, was met by the Italian equivalent of trifle. But it was much better than trifle! It wasn’t rich or stodgy or too sweet. Pieces of biscuit and sponge were alongside chocolate mousse and custard and the whole dish was covered by a sheet of gelatine. There was definitely some fruit in there as well. Being a massive dessert fan, I think I ate this in three mouthfuls and such speed, my brain couldn’t register exactly what each element was. And while I was starting to tire, the meal didn’t stop there...
The same three waiting staff that brought out our appetisers brought over a selection of petit-fours. These were practically Willa Wonka-esque and definitely the highlight of the evening – and for good reason, you can’t beat a homemade sweet treat. We sampled choco-nut Mikado sticks, chocolate popcorn truffles, green apple marshmallows, chocolate chupa chups with passion fruit centres, cherry yogurt balls that popped in the mouth and mini meringues, which hung from the tree. As these were individually wrapped, we could take these away with us and I destroyed them all in the hotel that evening. The red apple ones were amazing.
After paying the bill, we relaxed in the lounge area and sampled the cocktails, which we waited for our taxi to collect us – there was no way I’d walk back to the metro station. I really love martinis and with ‘ours or yours’ on the menu, I requested a passion fruit one. Unfortunately they had no passion fruit, so I asked the bartender to surprise me. I had the most beautiful lychee martini and it was worth waiting for – the mixologist totally knew his stuff was mesmerising to watch.
I would thoroughly recommend Stazione di Posta, because if you can see past the location, you’re in for a very special evening. The five-course menu with drinks was only 90 (so roughly £70) per person, which is so worth it, when you consider all the added extras. The service throughout was incredible, from the member of staff who met us down the road when we couldn’t find the location, to all the waiters, concierge and bar staff. The language barrier was never an issue, as it is sometimes the case in the city and I think there were actually more diners speaking English than Italian. As we left, we were even given a little plastic bag of traditional Italian biscuits with tea, to “enjoy when you get home” according to our waiter. Every little touch is well thought of and that combined with excellent food and drink makes this place one of the best I’ve been to.

Love, Lucy xx

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