Il Bicchiere di Mastai

Tel: +39 06 6819 2228
Address: Via dei Banchi Nuovi, 52
Cuisine Type: Modern Italian
Notes: Closed Monday
Tables outside? No

If, as is quite possible, you have slightly overeaten during your stay in Rome and feel the need for something a little lighter than most restaurants offer, you could do a lot worse than try this elegant wine bar.

Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti became Pope Pius IX in 1846 and his papacy was the longest ever known – over 50 years. Maybe he knew what all the doctors are telling us, that a glass or two of wine is awfully good for the health… In any case the wine bar that bears his name is fittingly elegant and refined, with a mixture of pale wood, marble, terracotta and tapestry.

The food is also elegant, from the talented hands of chef Fabio Baldassarre. The short menu provides all sorts of tempting dishes. There are simple salads: insalata di finocchi, arance e olive nere – fennel, orange and black olives, €5 – was excellent, as was a Caesar salad for the same price. Verdure grigliata con olio alla menta was an interesting variation on the familiar grilled zucchini, melanzane and pepperoni – very lightly cooked, dressed with a superbly delicate olive oil and cut with the sharp flavour of fresh mint.

The selection of crudi was also good – the selection of marinated fish included salmon, tuna and sea bass, all of which were absolutely fresh and delicious and the quantities generous for €10. Carpaccio di baccala (cod) arrived beautifully arranged on its salad of vegetables (€12). For carnivores the prosciutto was excellent and smoked duck breast was also an option.

If you love chocolate and are feeling you’ve been awfully good so far, hit the Tortino di cioccolato nero con crema di frutti di bosco (€7). Worth the detour, as they say.

The wine list, as one would expect, is extensive. It ranges vastly in price from the equivalent of house wine at €15, which was a superb Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Torre de Beati. At 14% we certainly felt blessed after a couple of bottles. At the top end the sky is the limit, with the bulk of the list dominated by Chianti but many other interesting wines available for the connoisseur.

Il Bicchiere is by no means cheap, especially by Italian standards, but the atmosphere is refined, the staff are friendly and attentive, and there is no doubt that the quality and invention coming from the kitchen is well worth the price.