Settimo at the top of Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese, is the property’s signature restaurant, resting on the seventh floor and immediately revealing its focal point upon entry – a panoramic terrace that wraps around the restaurant providing unparalleled views of the Eternal City.
At first glance, Sofitel’s ideally situated Roman outpost evokes the memory of a very chic yet warm friend’s apartment – the kind of space that is thoughtful in its indulgence with sensorial delights to capture the attention of its guests. The lobby houses a uniform display of Acqua di Parma products in their signature yellow packaging, and is well-scented enough for even the most nonchalant guest to grow curious about its source.
For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of exploring the Italian capital, Rome can feel quite busy. Conversations feel livelier with impassioned gestures that sometimes replace the words themselves. Mealtimes always seem to come with an air of theatre even amongst loved ones. In the days ahead of my experience at Settimo, I had been dining at the homes of family and friends who had affectionately fed me until I reached my limit. Lunch was never just a quick lunch and dinner was the same, as the tables soon became laden with bread, cheeses, wine, cured and dried meats to accompany whatever dish had been prepared. While sitting at Settimo under soft lighting and amongst garden-inspired interiors is far from the bustle of a family reuniting over the dinner table, the team creates their own excitement through dishes that are clearly designed to tell stories of their own.
Every restaurant has its own special element. Perhaps it’s the view and atmosphere from a particular table; the reassuring consistency of a particular dish no matter how many times you’ve ordered it before or maybe even the extravagant hand soap in the washrooms (for which Settimo has opted with the cult favourite Diptyque).
But for me, the star of the evening is Simone, our Rome-native sommelier who guides us through dinner from start to finish, providing considerate wine pairings and accompanying explanations with each course. As someone who is constantly seeking opportunities to learn more about what I’m drinking and eating and exactly why I’m eating and drinking, I revel in having a dedicated sommelier for the evening who contextualises and gives character to each dish.
By the end of the evening, I feel as though I’ve received a thorough crash course in wine pairing and I’m ready to impress any dinner guests this festive season. I also enjoy my first-ever glass of the crisp and sparkling Franciacorta as a sort of ‘palate cleanser’ between courses, which hails from the province of Brescia and is produced using the traditional method – in which the wine undergoes a natural second fermentation in the bottle as in Champagne.
We begin with elevated classics – Supplì and Fiori di Zucca, both two of my favourites and must-haves whenever I’m in Rome. A friend tells me that the Porcini mushroom flan, another intriguing dish on offer, reminds him of something that he’s tried before and immediately I smile because there is a certain comfort in finding familiarity in a new and unexpected place.
The standout dish of the evening is the fresh tortelli stuffed with stew veal, served with zucchini cream and olive oil. The carrot-coloured tortelli arrives beautifully presented and perfectly cooked (al dente) and the portion is great for sharing between two or savouring by yourself. As we dine, we are reminded of Executive Chef Giuseppe D’Alessio’s dedication to offering the best of what is currently in season and how his dishes both nod subtly to tradition and innovation.
For dessert, we naturally opt to try the tiramisu because when in Rome… But it’s the unsuspecting yet memorable tart with ricotta and sour cherries that captures our attention. It is one of those dishes to order regardless of how it sounds and whether you think ricotta belongs in a tart because this dessert proves that it most certainly does. Think cheesecake, but more chic and Italian.
For discerning diners, Settimo is a solid choice as the menu lives up to the grandeur of its location overlooking the famed Villa Borghese and makes for a memorable experience in the eternal city that you’ll look forward to returning to.
To discover more, visit: settimoristorante.it
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All imagery courtesy of Settimo unless stated otherwise.