A blind date with Roman food scene at restaurant Pipero Roma*

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Restaurant Pipero Roma has one Michelin star and bears the name of its patron, owner and founder, Alessandro Pipero. Pipero is a well-known personality on the Roman food scene. He greets and meets every guest at the restaurant and service is one of his top priorities. Pipero Roma was our choice for an important event in our life – Andrey’s 40th birthday. And it absolutely deserved its place in our special section with unique cilunary experiences Dining with Diners Club Bulgaria.

In our series Dining with Diners Club Bulgaria we tell you about unique culinary and wine experiences, inspired by the story of the first credit card in the world that started in a restaurant. It every day reminds us that the culinary experience is a part of every trip. Read the other articles from the series here.

Maria waiting for me at the door of Pipero Roma restaurant
Maria waiting for me at the door of Pipero Roma restaurant

Carte Blanche!

We do not have any allergies or anything we wouldn’t taste. The dishes are at the hands of the chef and we are looking forward to our surprising dinner while already tasting the Franciacorta sparkling wine. A few minutes earlier we rang the bell in the elegant building next to Chiesa Nuova church in Rome and Alessandro Pipero personally welcomed us with a big smile.

Alessandro Pipero
Alessandro Pipero
Pipero Roma is located next to Chiesa Nuova church in Rome
Pipero Roma is located next to Chiesa Nuova church in Rome

“Carte Blanche” is the name of the tasting menu of chef Ciro Scamardella, which takes you to a real blind journey. This was one of the reasons we picked Pipero Roma as the place for our special night. We looked through the menus of all Michelin guide restaurants in Rome (more than 50). Finally, we came here to immerse ourselves in the unknown, ready for surprises and guided by the trust in good food. So, the bubbles are already tickling our tongues, we try the crispy home-made crackers and wait.

The wine is Le Marchesine Audens – Franciacorta Extra Brut
The small details that make the big difference: the wine glasses were mostly by Zalto Glass, one of our favourites. We don't use them at home because they are extremely fine and we are not the finest people daily
The small details that make the big difference: the wine glasses were mostly by Zalto Glass, one of our favourites. We don’t use them at home because they are extremely fine and we are not the finest people daily

The only disadvantage of the “white card” is that we do not know the precise names of the dishes we are served. However, we definitely remember the emotion each of them brought to us.

The ambience in the restaurant is very cozy and elegant
The ambience in the restaurant is very cozy and elegant

The first dish is presented as “mousse with potatoes and mushrooms”. It is actually a fine creme with delicate foam, with aromas and taste of wild mushrooms, spices and maybe a truffle. It is accompanied by house-made bread with the freshest olive oil. When we try it, the bubbles from the glass meet the foam and make us close our eyes and enjoy our choice.

Quite more than a mousse of potatoes and mushrooms
Quite more than a mousse of potatoes and mushrooms – restaurant Pipero Roma – a Michelin restaurant in Rome

A “Hot bath” from North Italy

Have you heard of Bagna Cauda? In Italian it means “hot bath”. However, it is not a hygienic ritual but rather a sauce from Piemonte, based on olive oil, anchovies and garlic. It is both fresh and spicy and is usually served with vegetables. But today it comes with tender cuttlefish, melting in the mouth, again from North Italy. This quickly became one of our favourite dishes of the night and we asked numerous questions about the products and the preparation. The wine here is Inzolia from Sicily, at the opposite end of Italy.

Grilled cuttlefish from North Italy, one of our favourite dishes for the night
Grilled cuttlefish from North Italy, one of our favourite dishes for the night
The wine - Sicilia DOC Insolia Carizza 2019 comes from the Sicilian winery  Principi di Butera. The wine cellar is a very old feudal mansion, once a home to local noble families. Nowadays it is owned by one of the largest wine families in Italy - La Famiglia Zonin.
The wine – Sicilia DOC Insolia Carizza 2019 comes from the Sicilian winery Principi di Butera. The wine cellar is a very old feudal mansion, once a home to local noble families. Nowadays it is owned by one of the largest wine families in Italy – La Famiglia Zonin.

Here is the time to mention that the “blind” menu we ordered appeared to be a walk through the cuisine and products of Italy. Of course, it was the modified version of Chef Ciro Scamardella, who comes from Campania.

This started to become clear after the next dish from the menu arrived on the table. It was again a variation of an Italian classics – Impepata di Cozze. The Impepata di Cozze is widely popular starter in the south of Italy, made of fresh mussels and ground pepper. The traditional recipes are very simple and easy. Generally, the mussels are cleaned and then put into a pot on strong heat. When they start to open, they are mixed with a lot of pepper and let to cook. Coking continues for a few more minutes until the mussels are fully open. The final taste combines just the sea and the pepper – that’s it!

Well, not actually when you are at Pipero Roma. Here the Impepata di Cozze features also a seawater jelly, tenderly covering the mussels. The aroma of sea is capturing us, while tasting our wine. This time it is Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige, North Italy, vintage 2019.

Impepata di Cozze at Pipero Roma restaurant - Michelin star restaurant in Rome
Impepata di Cozze at Pipero Roma restaurant – Michelin star restaurant in Rome
The Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige, 2019, comes from Terlan winery. The cellar is a cooperative and produces 70 % white wines and 30 % reds. The Lunare Gewurztraminer is slowly fermented and laid on the lees form 9 months. 50 % of it matured in large oak casks and the other 50 % in inox reservoirs. They were blended 3 months before bottling.
The Gewurztraminer from Alto Adige, 2019, comes from Terlan winery. The cellar is a cooperative and produces 70 % white wines and 30 % reds. The Lunare Gewurztraminer is slowly fermented and laid on the lees form 9 months. 50 % of it matured in large oak casks and the other 50 % in inox reservoirs. They were blended 3 months before bottling.

Pecorino – cheese or wine?

One of the dishes every self-respectful chef would serve in one fine dining menu is beef tartare. At least in Rome it was in the menus of almost all good restaurants. Here the tartare was served with sorrel and smoked mayonnaise and was wonderful. While writing these words, we recall one of the reviews someone had left in a website online. An American guest was complaining that many dishes in the menu were raw. However, for us this was not a problem at all and we always trust the choice of chefs in restaurants of such class. But if you have any problems with raw products, mind that the beef tartare includes raw meat. And we loved it.

Beef tartare
Beef tartare

Even more interesting in this serving was the wine pairing. The tartare came with 100 % Pecorino 2019, which surprised us with two things. First, beef is rarely paired with white wines. Second, the combination was a total success. Pecorino itself became one of the wines that caught our curiousity. This one had a notable bouquet of aromas and tastes with a particular peach note. Lovely choice of the sommelier.

Pecorino 2019 wine
A very interesting wine from the Pecorino variety. Vintage 2019 Rêve / Offida Docg Pecorino from Velenosi winery. The wine cellar is located in the town of Ascoli Piceno, Marche region.

Michelin-style pasta

One of the things that strongly impressed us from the menu of Chef Ciro Scamardella was the closeness to the real traditional Italian dishes, although modified by his visions and the style of Pipero. A lot of chefs would tend to dive in creativity and serve dishes that need a lot of explanations. Which is also great, because is challenges your creative thought as well. However, Ciro Scamardella stole our hearts by serving what really is in the Italian traditional cuisine, just the best version of it. Here comes the pasta.

Ravioli with ragu and tomato sauce in broth
Ravioli with ragu and tomato sauce in broth
Pinot Noir from Pojer e Sandri, who make wine since 1975. The winery is from Trentino, North Italy.
Pinot Noir from Pojer e Sandri, who make wine since 1975. The winery is from Trentino, North Italy.

Here come the dishes with ravioli in ragu and tomato sauce, served in broth. The feeling is like a two-step menu. First you try the broth – a delicious beef broth which make us recall a memorable lunch at Trattoria Anna Maria in Bologna some years ago. Then we bite the ravioli and the tomato sauce takes us to a journey through Italian cuisine in its best version. The wine here is Pinot Noir from Trentino, North Italy.

Rome cannot go without Carbonara
Rome cannot go without Carbonara

No menu in Rome could go without the signature Carbonara. It is traditional for the region and Chef Ciro Scamardella offers one of the best versions of it. His pasta Carbonara is amazingly delicious, with the traditional guanciale and lots of pepper (which gives the name of the dish). The wine pairing is another challenge and surprise. And it convinces us that we should never stop trying new things, no matter how unusual they sound. The Carbonara came with sweet wine from Sauvignon Blanc which went perfectly with the salty pasta and the crispy guanciale.

Traditional or modern pasta Carbonara?
Traditional or modern pasta Carbonara?
Umani Ronchi Maximo Marche IGT is sweet wine from Sauvignon Blanc from the Marche region
Umani Ronchi Maximo Marche IGT is sweet wine from Sauvignon Blanc from the Marche region
Meanwhile the chef explains something to the neighbouring table
Meanwhile the chef explains something to the neighbouring table

Beef, cabbage, gin

Maybe it is time for the main course, after several starters and two Primi (first course). Pasta in Italy is considered a first course and rarely a main course. So, after the pasta on our table arrive the main – beef fillet with Brussels sprouts and gin spheres. In our articles maybe we repeat the same words multiple times – everything is delicious, amazing, wonderful. But this is the truth and we can say nothing different about the beef fillet. The wine here comes from Tuscany, vintage 2012.

beef fillet with Brussels sprouts and gin spheres
Beef fillet with Brussels sprouts and gin spheres – Pipero Roma restaurant in Rome.
The enoteca of the restaurant
The enoteca of the restaurant

The fire in the room

In the elegant dining room of Pipero Roma arrived a cart with pots and other stuff which stopped in fron of one of the tables. Then the show started. A chef, an apron, a pan and, of course, fire. It appeared that they were cooking for another visitor the Crepe Suzette. It is a French dessert – a pancake glazed with syrup of sugar, lemon, orange, butter and liquor. The final stage of the preparation – the glazing, was the attractive one, including Flambé. We were grateful for witnessing this show. Finally, we were even luckier when one of the crepes arrived on our table, although it was not intended to be in our menu.

Crepe Suzette at restaurant Pipero Roma
Crepe Suzette at restaurant Pipero Roma

The Crepe Suzette was a thick pancake with texture close to the “al dente” feeling of Italian pasta. The sauce was very sweet but fresh because of the citrus.

The refreshing moment came soon after, with the two official desserts. One of them was ice cream with oranges from Sicily and a small brioche. Then arrived the tender lime cream with lime jelly and white chocolate.

And as always happens in such type of restaurant, the desserts are never just one or two. The night finished with a selection of more sweets and a cup of coffee.

Lime creme with white chocolate
Lime creme with white chocolate

A dinner with stories

Of course, we always chase and find the stories. No visit to a restaurant would be exciting enough to fit out lovely section Dining with Diners Club without a good story. And of course, there are a lot of curiousities about the Pipero Roma restaurant. The owner Alessandro Pipero is well-known at the Italian dining scene for years. He is also a favourite of world-class chefs. Once Massimo Bottura said that when he goes to Rome, there are two places he must visit. One of them was Pipero al Rex, the former place of Alessandro Pipero. The other one was Salumeria Roscioli, which we mention in our other article dedicated to Roman food. Bottura’s favourite dish back then was the Carbonara, although it was prepared by another chef.

The team running Pipero Roma (right to left): Alessandro Pipero, Ciro Scamardella, Achille Sardiello (sommelier and manager)
The team running Pipero Roma (right to left): Alessandro Pipero, Ciro Scamardella, Achille Sardiello (sommelier and manager)

In 2005 Pipero was declared best sommelier in Italy according to L’Espresso’s guide. He is running his own restaurants since 2008

If you want to meet his amazing smile, friendly attitude and strong professionalism, visit Pipero Roma!

In our series Dining with Diners Club Bulgaria we tell you about unique culinary and wine experiences, inspired by the story of the first credit card in the world that started in a restaurant. It every day reminds us that the culinary experience is a part of every trip. Read the other articles from the series here.

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