HeartRome Review: Why Zuma belongs in Rome

I was recently speaking to some New York colleagues about the opening of Zuma Restaurant and Bar at Rome’s Fendi building.

They spoke highly of the UK Japanese isakaya style dining chain (which is now in 12 cities), but were kinda incensed by the fact that a quintessential Roman brand like Fendi would choose a modern Japanese restaurant to sit in its Rome flagship store; wouldn’t it make sense having something Roman or ‘Italian’?

I’m sure some of you are thinking the same thing. Well (sorry, but) I think you’re wrong. 

Yes, Fendi is as much about style and design as it is about class and cool. But so is Zuma. So on that front, I couldn’t think of a better fit; it’s a marriage made in heaven. And young and especially more affluent Romans (or adopted ones) are obsessing about modern and international fusion dining. Fendi as a brand is outward looking and cosmopolitan in nature. Fun and provocative are synonymous with its brand philosophy. So again, it’s no surprise, the Zuma partnership came about.

You can’t help but feel observed when you walk into Zuma. It’s the latest hotspot and everyone is looking around to see who might be there of the Rome’s who’s who (tonight some pretty famous footballers’ wives were there). Its warm colours and wood tones envelop you just as soon as your eyes have calmed after seeing the expansive views of Via dei Condotti and other streets of Rome’s very high end shopping district. The kitchen is an open one and sushi chefs are lined up curing and slicing raw fish.

Then there’s the staff. Surprisingly quite friendly (and very good looking!) and very well-versed on the Zuma philosophy and menu. Our waiter Davide was sweet and fun and didn’t hesitate to tell us about his personal favourite dishes and help us settle in with a few cocktails.As with traditional izakaya style dining, the menu is designed for sharing and dishes are served as they are ready as opposed to coming out at once or in courses. It’s divided by snacks and soups, cold dishes, salads, tempura, Zuma signature dishes, seafood and various meats from the robata (grill), items from the sushi counter and desserts. The cocktail list is extensive (and delicious). I chose the raspberry and passionfruit martini and you can even have cocktails on the rooftop terrace. 

There are two tasting menus to choose from at either €70 or €150 for the premium, without drinks. We chose to do our own selection of plates and ended up spending almost what we would have had we chose the premium – it was worth every cent. 

Here’s a brief run down of what we ate:

Fried soft shell crab with wasabi mayonnaise / Monkfish tempura with yuku

Salmon and tuna tartare with rice crackers Sliced yellowtail, green chilli relish, ponzu and pickled garlic

Beef tataki with pickled daikon and truffle

Prawn and black cod gyoza

Miso marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf

Pork belly skewers with yuzu mustard miso / Sweet potato with teriyaki and sesame

Signature sushi: Wagyu with rice, daikon and truffle 

Japanese Wagyu beef with tahoon aioli and fresh wasabi 

Sliced yellowtail, green chilli relish, ponzu and pickled garlic 

Spider soft shell crab maki roll with chilli mayonnaise, cucumber and wasabi tobiko sauce / Spicy yellowtail maki roll with green chilli, avocado and wasabi mayonnaise / Rasberry and passionfruit martini 

Flourless chocolate cake with pears and vanilla bean ice cream (instead of green tea ice cream) Having grown up in a melting pot like Melbourne, I’ve eaten at many pretty incredible Japanese fusion restaurants but this is one of the best and I’m already thinking about my next meal here. 

Quick Facts

Zuma Restaurant and Bar is located across the fourth and fifth floors of the Palazzo Fendi (which is now home to a new 7 suite luxury hotel, the Fendi Suites) at the corner of Via del Corso and Via dei Condotti. It is open every day for lunch and dinner (until late) except Mondays. Bookings are a must and well ahead of time is best to avoid disappointment. Visit the website for more information or call +39 06 99266622. Signing off from Trastevere (with a bit of a crush now really!) 

Baci, Maria

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