Big Fish

by Danilo Brunetti

Stellar seafood restaurant La Rosetta celebrates an anthem of Neptune’s wealth. Federico Schiaffino reports.

Top-quality fish prepared according to Italian traditions tempered with innovative culinary touches, and the Riccioli family’s decades of experience and passion for excellent food: this is the recipe for La Rosetta’s success. Carmelo Riccioli, a photographer from Catania, opened Rome’s first all-seafood restaurant in 1966 across from the Pantheon. Later, his son Massimo took the reins. The restaurant’s philosophy has always been, “There can be no great cooking without great ingredients,” and every dish is a tribute to the delicacies of the sea. 

      The success of the menu is thanks not only to the variety of dishes, but also to the choice to prepare everything in-house, with the utmost care and dedication. The multitude of both cooked and raw appetizers is unmissable: thinly sliced amberjack with tomato water and lemon; prawns ceviche with mango mayo and coriander; Mediterranean tuna slices with strawberry vinegar and thyme; grilled octopus with lemon, hot pepper, avocado, and fresh peas; boiled lobster salad with mashed potatoes and capers; and baby octopus and zucchini fry-up. There’s no lack of shellfish either, from oysters from Brittany or Normandy, to clams and sea urchins from Galicia that still smell like the very rocks they were found on.

Historic first courses include pappardelle alla Carmelo with seafood and cherry tomatoes from Vesuvius; spaghetti with zucchini flowers and pecorino cheese; and tagliolini with red prawns, lime, and toasted breadcrumbs. Among the second courses, the top honors go to wild sea bass filet with lemon sauce, crispy prawns, and artichokes; boned red mullet filets with sage and mushrooms; and gurnard stew Eoliana-style with clams and potatoes. Stand-out desserts include millefeuille with zabaglione and white chocolate, as well as the gelato and fruit sorbets. For wine pairings, you’ll be in the capable hands of Chef Massimo himself, who runs the cellar stocked with over 800 Italian and international labels. Reservations recommended.

>Via della Rosetta, 8. Tel 066861002.