There are no bad restaurants in Rome. Some might argue the same for all of Italy. However, when in Rome, Le Jardin de Russie is arguably among the city’s best.
In the heart of one the finest of all the five-star hotels in Rome, Hotel de Russie, Le Jardin is located found between two of Rome’s most beautiful and famous piazzas, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, and nestled within the high-end shopping district Via Condotti.
Get in the mood. Before you dine at Le Jardin de Russie, visit the Stravinskij Bar. Drawing an eclectic crowd at all hours, the bar features mix masters who stir up contemporary creations as well as a range of healthy drinks and homemade iced tea.
Don’t pass up the Italian wine cobbler, made with Italian red wine fortified with bourbon, Peychaud’s bitters, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and raspberry syrup. It has a bit of a kick, so you may want to get a snack. No need to go overboard: keep it light with either the Panzanella, a salad of tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh onions, or the seared prawns with Mediterranean vinaigrette and spinach.
During summer months, it’s best to call well in advance for a table in the Secret Garden, which extends from Via del Babuino up to the Pincian Hill and into the iconic Villa Borghese Park. This multi-terraced paradise, tucked away from the hustle and bustle, is accented by rose bushes, oranges trees, and the flicker of candles by night. Locales like this are decidedly rare. Inside, an elegant dining room is truly an extension of the exterior, accented by palm fronds and low light.
Take a deep breath and prepare for gastronomical romance. Fulvio Pierangelini, the director of food, is one of the most celebrated chefs in the world. He is often referred to as the “soloist of great Italian cooking” and a “food whisperer.” And, he, along with the executive chef, Nazzareno Menghini, create an experience that is nearly impossible to duplicate.
“I prefer preparing food through a series of easily identifiable operations that express themselves in all their transparency,” says Pierangelini. “This doesn’t mean making food without research, but having made simplicity the primary purpose of that research.”
It’s no wonder, then, that a signature dish — and one highly recommended — appears to be the most simple: spaghetti pomodoro e basilico. Don’t let the name fool you. You may think you know spaghetti, but this will change the way you think about food in general. Insanely perfect pasta with a classic tomato and basil sauce is pure heaven. This small but hearty dish actually serves as a great starter. Share it!
If your appetite allows, don’t miss a twist on an Italian favorite: Asparagus with Burrata Cream and Black Truffle.
Looking for a little more protein? Move on to your “secondi” with the veal Milanese with a saffron rice tart and French beans. It will change the way you think about veal. You’ll have a difficult time deciding which was more satisfying, the veal or the accompanying extra virgin olive oil mashed potato.
Finish with a selection of sorbet and ice creams, and then take a stroll to the Trevi Fountain. Bliss.
By Anthony Giampetruzzi