Rome can be justly proud of one of its very best restaurants, "Brunello Lounge & Restaurant", located in the elegant "Regina Hotel Baglioni". Chef Luciano Sarzi Sartori has cooked for George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Silvio Berlusconi, and the Dalai Lama who gifted him with the Scarf of Peace. Just one of the many prizes accumulated by Chef Luciano for his Mediterranean cooking which combines tradition with originality. Read on . . .
You can enter the restaurant from famed Via Veneto; but, take my advice and enter through Hotel Regina Baglioni. Whet your appetite for the dinner to come by exploring the public spaces of this lovely hotel (the Rome Baglioni Collection hotel joinedRelais et Chateaux chain in 2012). A teaser for the wonderful atmosphere of Restaurant Brunello which is clean, contemporary and sophisticated but without the coldness those qualities sometimes accompany. Overhead, large brass spheres, pierced to permit light that creates subtle shadows on the restaurant’s walls. Velvet drapes add warmth, and comfortable banquettes permit intimacy. A perfect setting for the lovely to look at, amazing to taste, cuisine of Chef Luciano Sarzi Sartori.
Chef Luciano has a long and varied background stretching back to the age of 14 and including successful stints at Hotel Gallia in Punta Ala, Grand Hotel et de Milan, and Hotel Gray in Milan. My dinner was personally supervised by Brunello’s elegant General Manager, Franco Cardinali. While sampling the assorted homemade breads, I marveled at the way in which Franco attended to me while directing his team serving a full restaurant including a whole gaggle of small Asians with large appetites. Since my eyes are much larger than my stomach, I urged Franco to bring me small portions. Well, I guess he tried; perhaps he felt I needed nourishing.
My starters were a crisp salad of various lettuces mixed with mandarin vinaigrette (great taste!) accompanied by two perfectly steamed prawns and two slices of rabbit loin. Next came a single croquette of ricotta and mortadella on pumpkin cream and dark beer reduction.
I washed down the lovely food with a wonderful Cuvée Astoria Prosecco (more bubbles than our national debt!)
Two middle courses: homemade egg and chestnut flour maltagliati pasta with a ragu of seafood and mushroom on buffalo mozzarella foam. Then, a fabulous whipped, creamy Carnaroli risotto with frutti di bosco (wild berries), gorgonzola and sweet & sour red onion. The red wine from a cellar of over 350 tantalizing labels was new to me: Zurria by Masone Mannu.
I could only manage one main course, much to Franco’s dismay, veal cheek marinated in Barolo and juniper on Topinambur cream.
A final wine the princely 2007 Banfi Castello Brunella di Montalcino, aromatic, velvety and dark as a jilted lover’s heart. (Pardon my over the top comment, but wait till you taste this wine!)
I begged off dessert, but Franco won. And am I glad. He personally prepared a whipped secret combination of fruity sorbets with just enough fresh cream to hold its shape. Heaven! Molto buono. Of course I had to force myself to have a last glass of Prosecco.
Then, somehow, I managed to wobble back to my hotel, my bed and dreams of a perfectly terrific meal.
"Brunello Lounge & Restaurant"
Via Veneto, 72
00187 Rome - Italy
Tel. +39 06 421111
Fax. +39 06 42012130
Member Relais et Chateaux