Hands down, May is my favorite month in Rome. Perhaps it’s because I get two long weekends off between Italian and American holidays 😉 ! There is much to do to take advantage of the long, warm days and balmy evenings. It’s the perfect time to admire the stunning blooms at the Rose Garden at Circo Massimo or attend a special concert or exhibition at the bi-annual Museum Night celebration held throughout the Eternal City. The picture perfect sunsets are best enjoyed with an aperitif at one of the chic rooftop bars in the city center.
Zuma Restaurant & Rooftop Bar at Palazzo Fendi
I had a friend in town and we decided to go out at the last minute. Zuma has been highly recommended, but I feared that we would only be able to get a table for the rooftop bar and lounge area. Luckily, the friendly hostess found us a table for the early seating (thankfully Italians like to dine late) when I called.
Zuma opened to much fanfare in 2016 at the fashionable Palazzo Fendi, the Made in Italy brand that is playing a major role in revitalizing Rome’s historic sites. The contemporary Japanese restaurant occupies the top two levels of Fendi’s flagship store in Rome. It appropriately overlooks the crossroads of Via Condotti and Via del Corso, Rome’s two main shopping streets.
We arrived early to check out the rooftop bar before dinner and were not disappointed with the views of the neighboring landmarks and terracota rooftops. The minimalist aesthetics of the main bar and dining hall – filled neutral tones, bamboo accents, and a massive natural wood bar – seem fitting for the penthouse restaurant of an international fashion house.
Zuma is the brainchild of London-based restaurant mogul Reiner Becker. The Rome location marks Becker’s 11th international restaurant under the Zuma brand and continues to showcase his love for izakaya-style Japanese cuisine. It’s nice to see top global restauranteurs targeting the Roman market as interest grows for international cuisine.
The waitstaff begin by explaining the concept behind izakaya-style dining, which encourages a shared gastronomical experience. We were encouraged to try a mix of appetizers and entrees from the three different stations. Once I saw the fried calamari with green chili peppers and lime, I knew we had to start with that and immediately fell in love with the dish.
Next, we tried some samplings of sushi and sashimi, which were all fresh and on point.
From the Robata (Japanese grill station), the Angus tenderloin rounded out our entrees and even satisfied a picky meat eater like me.
I have a thing for coconut ice cream and could not resist when the waiter recommended the green tea and banana cake with coconut gelato and crushed peanuts for dessert. The calories were totally worth it.
Overall, it was one of the best meals I’ve had so far in Rome. The service was impeccable and I can’t wait to go back and try some of the grilled seafood options from the Robata station.
Via della Fontanella di Borghese, 48
Reservations: 39-069 9266 622 or online