TRAVEL

4 Rome Restaurants With Remarkable Views

Hotel Hassler Roma. Credit: Hotel Hassler Roma

This article originally appeared in Forbes Travel, March 2018, and is a favorite of mine since there is nothing better than a view of Rome.

Rome is a city whose personality shines through its visible history — an incredible cityscape of monuments, palaces and piazzas, which are all usually experienced at ground level. But to truly know the Italian capital, you have to head to new heights. Here are some of the top terrace restaurants guaranteed to make you fall in love over and over again with the Eternal City.

Imàgo
View: Domes of the historic city center

Situated on the sixth floor of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel Hassler Roma, this excellent restaurant is a favorite spot for locals and visitors thanks to its walls of windows overlooking the historic city center. From your perch at this stylish spot, you’ll be able to see at least a dozen notable palaces and monuments, among them the ornate Altare della Patria (Victor Emmanuel II monument) and the majestic church of Sant’Agnese in Piazza Navona.

The acclaimed restaurant is directed by chef Francesco Apreda, whose tradewind travels led to a playful seasonal menu that combines traditional Italian recipes with subtle Asian influences. Dine on dishes like veal carpaccio with persimmon, nori seaweed and escarole ravioli and sake-glazed black cod as you watch the sun set over the Eternal City skyline.

View from La Pergola. Photo credit: Erica Firpo

La Pergola
View: A sweeping city panorama

Perched on the ninth floor of Four-Star Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort in the Monte Mario neighborhood, this stunning establishment occupies a verdant hill about 15 minutes from the city center. In other words, La Pergola offers a sweeping perspective of the entire Eternal City.

Chef Heinz Beck has perfected the art of interpretation in Italian cuisine — he delivers a 10-course menu that left Michelle Obama asking for more. The former first lady was so enamored with Beck’s fagottelli (tiny cheese-filled pasta parcels) carbonara that she asked for the recipe.

Getting a reservation at this scenic spot is about as difficult as getting a private audience with the pope — give yourself at least two and half months in advance and be sure to ask for a terrace table. If privacy is paramount, then be sure to book the private dining room — a gorgeous gilded, glass-enclosed terrace that Gianni Versace would have loved.

Aroma Restaurant
View:  A front row seat to the Colosseum

There is nothing like the Colosseum, the world’s largest amphitheater famously known for its days of bloody sport. Ever wonder what it would have been like to have a ticket — even if it’s for one of the cheap seats? When you book a table at Aroma, the rooftop restaurant of Palazzo Manfredi, it’s almost possible.

The elegant eatery features a full-frontal vista of Rome’s most iconic monument — an unforgettable and unobstructed view that is a scene for proposals. Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio complements the backdrop with his top-notch cuisine. Expect plenty of creative, seafood-centric Mediterranean plates, such as red-cabbage-marinated octopus, roasted scallops with sweet pepper and lime cream and sea bass stewed in tomatoes, garlic and parsley.

Hotel Eden's Vista. Photo credit: Erica Firpo

La Terrazza
View: Downtown Rome

Rome’s panorama is a cascade of domes and bell towers, and there is no better place to take in the sweeping vistas than from this heralded restaurant on the terrace of the Five-Star Hotel Eden. You’ll want to book a front row table at La Terrazza just in time to watch the sun set across the city and St. Peter’s dome illuminate in the night sky. 

Chef Fabio Ciervo considers the terrace his masterpiece and focuses on quality-of-life dishes that have put him at the forefront of the evolution of Italian cuisine. His spin on the traditional cacio e pepe pasta includes Madagascar pepper and rose perfume, and his stracotto di manzo (slow-cooked pot roast) is a delicious bite of beef that will leave you speechless.

5 Places For An Unforgettable Aperitivo

When Forbes Travel (October 2017) asked me to find great Italian aperitivi around the world, here's where I found myself barside. . .

The St. Regis Bangkok’ s Jojo, Photo Credit: The St. Regis Bangkok

Everyone loves a good happy hour, but no one does it quite like the Italians. Meant to cleanse the palate before dinner, drinks like a Negroni (Campari, gin and sweet vermouth) or an Aperol Spritz are light, refreshing and popular worldwide for their simple, classic flavors. Here are five stops to make for your own global apertivo adventure.

Bangkok
The Mediterranean comes to Thailand with Aperol evenings at Jojo, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Bangkok’s elegant Italian restaurant. The eatery’s terrace location is the spot to enjoy the futuristic and ever-changing Bangkok cityscape while imbibing Italy’s best cocktail-hour export, the Aperol Spritz — prosecco, Aperol and soda water.

To accompany your signature sip, chef Stefano Merlo has created perfectly paired cicchetti (traditional Venetian aperitif snacks).

Milan
When in Milan, the fashion forward flock to Four-Star Hotel Principe di Savoia and its iconic Principe Bar. Come aperitif time, this sultry hangout comes alive with signature martini cocktails (try the Raspberry Filtering, a sweet sip made with raspberry-infused vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice and a splash of champagne), a DJ spinning Italian tunes and canapés, in case you start to feel peckish.

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, Photo Credit: Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

Florence
Take the fast train to Florence and the Atrium Bar at Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, one of the prettiest places for an aperitivo. This elegant bar is old school — a Renaissance-era court with an enclosed skylight ceiling, whose design recalls vintage libraries and lounges of a bygone era.

Mixologist Edoardo Sandri expertly curates a cocktail menu that goes far beyond a quality aperitivo. Though you can’t go wrong with a classic Negroni Sbagliato (which swaps in sparkling wine for gin), a favorite sip here is the light and fresh cucumber martini.

New York City
Head to Four-Star Langham Place’s iconic Fifth Avenue address and walk up the grand marble staircase to Four-Star Ai Fiori’s bar for a little taste of Italy in Midtown Manhattan. Bar Fiori specializes in seasonal aperitivi, including a spicy twist on the Aperol Spritz — the Autumn Thistle features cardamom-infused Cynar (a bittersweet artichoke-based liqueur) and Cider du Vulcain Premiers Emois hard cider.

Chinotto Cobbler, Mattiussi Fizz and Americano in Paris all offer herbal and floral variations of their classic namesake sips, and each comes with a skillet of housemade popcorn.

Hotel Eden’s La Libreria, Photo Credit: Hotel Eden

Rome
When in Rome, it’s all about the view, and there is no other perch quite like the open-air terrace at Il Giardino atop Five-Star Hotel Eden. Take in a sweeping view of the Eternal City from the historic center toward Michelangelo’s Dome as barman Gabriele Rizzi creates signature, seasonal cocktails like his Grande Bellezza — a pink vermouth martini — accompanied by chef Fabio Ciervo’s artful hors d’oeuvres and cicchetti.

Here’s a secret: the ground-level gilded lobby lounge, La Libreria, has a hidden bar with a private barman. So, if you find yourself in need of an afternoon aperitivo, grab a spot on one of the velvet divans and wait to be served.

5 Things We Love about Hotel Eden

This article original appeared in FORBES TRAVEL on APRIL 7, 2017.

Get your scissors out, because we’re cutting the ribbon on Rome‘s Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel Eden. The Eternal City trophy of the prestigious Dorchester Collection reopened on April 1 after a 17-month renovation that called for a complete floor-to-ceiling makeover easily rivaling that of St. Peter’s Basilica’s 17th-century revamp.

With 128 years of history behind it, the Eden has reigned as Rome’s harbinger of luxury, so it’s no surprise that the 2017 reboot simply reinforces the property as Empress of the Eternal City’s upscale hotel scene.

And it’s not just about a different look. Hotel Eden has opened the doors with a new mentality set to change the scope of Rome’s luxury hotels.

These are the five elements about the fresh hotel that stand out the most to us.

Space Hotel Eden raises the bar on opulence by deliberately downsizing room count by 20 percent, from 121 rooms to 98, and the overall effect is mesmerizing.

From the moment you enter the hotel’s marble-paneled lobby, the sense of space is more than gracious — it’s downright luxurious, livable and contemporary. In fact, the Eden’s objective was to create “living spaces,” and each of the 66 rooms and 32 suites are just that.

The artfully composed accommodations maximize space and highlight simplicity, featuring high ceilings and tall picture-frame windows.

5 Things We Love About Hotel Eden - Forbes Travel Guide

Design With space as the main design element, Bruno Moinard, of 4BI & Associés, chose a less-is-more interpretation of the Eden’s classic history. Moinard created a contemporary art deco atmosphere with a relaxing palette of ecrus and ochres, with superbly designed (yet sparingly placed) custom furniture and lamps.

The bathrooms have a lavish touch thanks to floor-to-ceiling white marble, walk-in rain showers and separate bath, and tasteful gilded fixtures.

It’s the little details throughout the room, though, that we love the most. The master-controlled lighting and climate control (which you can play around with via iPad from your bed), the Hotel Eden LP we found on our desk, the books, Bottega Veneta bath products, GHD hair dryers and charmingly customized bags for his-and-hers toiletries.

View Everyone says that if you’re going to stay in Rome, you must have a view. And they’re right. There is nothing like seeing the city’s domes, and from Hotel Eden, you get a glimpse of them all.

Suites Aurora, Malta, Medici and the Bella Vista Penthouse have the cityscape as the rooms’ main feature. And though most of Eden’s other rooms face the historic center, you can ask for a unit with a view.

But for the best vistas in the house, head to the fifth-floor terrace, where designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku added a vertical garden of soft curves and open walls for Eden’s garden restaurant, Il Giardino Ristorante & Bar. The establishment’s cocktail bar is the perfect place to perch right before sunset with a Grande Bellezza, a vermouth creation by barman Gabriele Rizzi.

For a more formal dining experience, enjoy panoramas of the city atop Hotel Eden at the property’s signature gourmet restaurant, La Terrazza.

5 Things We Love About Hotel Eden - Forbes Travel Guide

Service Once the room number was reduced and space was expanded, general manager Luca Virgilio decided to increase the staff by 30 percent.

“Personal attention and intimate experience” is the Dorchester mission and, at the Eden, the mantra lives and breathes in the form of a community of professionals imbued with that well-loved Roman trait of amicizia (“friendship”). Virgilio also seized the opportunity to create a guest relations team that coordinates bespoke experiences and journeys that range from “bucket list” to “once in a lifetime.”

For more than five decades, Maurizio Pangrazio has served as Eden’s chief concierge. He’s such an impeccable and resourceful man that the city named him “best concierge in Rome.” We simply refer to him as the top point of reference for getting what we want around town.

Wellness Eden has always had a history with wellness, from the early days of La Terrazza, when executive chef Fabio Ciervo crafted one of the first macrobiotic menus in the city. During the 17-month pause, Ciervo not only studied new recipes, spent weeks researching new producers, and guest cheffing with Thomas Keller of Five-Star Per Se (New York) and Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck (Bray, U.K.), he also went back to school for a master’s in nutrition.

Suffice to say, Ciervo is back in his glorious, 2,152-square-foot, panoramic outpost with a brand-new plate that he aims to fill with unique and quality-of-life-focused dishes.

Eden’s makeover is tip to tails and, on the ground floor, is the hotel’s first spa. Hotel Eden Spa is a four-suite area of private rooms for couples and individuals.

You’ll also spot a nail spa and blowout bar, both designed for privacy and tranquility. And the best part: Hotel Eden Spa has brought in Los Angeles skin care guru Sonya Dakar (aka the pioneer of natural and vegan rejuvenation treatments) to her first European foray to create signature facials and other treatments.