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Esquilino: Club Machiavelli

Via Machiavelli 49 , Phone: 06 7001757
Closing day: Monday

Reviewed by: Muse4Life from UK, review #3714

When: 2011

There are many qualities this restaurant has. None of them even remotely Machiavellian. Instead you'll find an interesting take on traditional Roman cuisine.

Directions: Metro Lie A to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, Exit Via Machiavelli

We visited Club Machiavelli on a warm April night. The path leading to the entrance from Via Machiavelli lit by candles lent a hint of promise to our enterprise, but it did little to prepare us for either the welcome or the overall experience of an evening here.

Greeted at the door by Mauro, a huge bear of a man with the enthusiasm of a very small boy, we were ushered into his homely little restaurant. What followed was a definitely unique Roman Eating Experience. Two thirds of the interior is given over to chairs and tables. The other third {at least on this Friday evening} was open, the space framed by a beaten up {but very comfortable-looking} sofa and {I think} matching armchairs. Our party of 5 {4 of us very wide-eyed Brits} was led by an Italian friend who, no slouch in these matters, quickly set about organising a good wine as a aperitif.

No real wine drinker, I'm always happy to be guided. And what a good guide our friend Roberto is! And after an appropriate interval Mauro approached us to take the first of what turned out to be many orders. He explained in his good and impassioned English the basic tenets of the Machiavelli way of doing things. Yes, it's basically Italian, but with influences as diverse as they come. You don't have to be a gourmand to eat here {I'm not one, for example...}, but a broad mind comes in handy, for there can be something frankly worrying about mixing Italian and South American cuisine.

Fortunately we'd taken enough wine on board not to be unduly fazed and such concerns would have been redundant anyway as the results are, shall we say, spectacular. There's little point in detailing exactly what we ate as the menu is subject to continuous change. My point really is to paint a more general picture - to give some idea of the sort of thing that CAN happen at Club Machiavelli rather than what ALWAYS happens. Such mundane routines have little place in this most diverse of eateries and it would be invidious of me to suggest that there is anything even remotely predictable about either the menu or the restaurant. I can, however, be specific in my expression of how much I enjoyed eating here.

We hadn't got too far into the evening before the place began filling up. Friday night {as they used to say on the BBC} is music night, and on this particular Friday night the featured act was a 3 piece jazz band who proceeded to fill that last one third of the room I was talking about earlier with instruments {but... miracle of miracles... no amps!!!}. As well as the band what seemed like a completely unfeasible number of punters, too, a very likeable-looking lot who seemed to have the knack of eating, talking and listening all at the same time and being utterly absorbed in all three pursuits. Now that's multi tasking. The message behind all of this is, of course, it's probably best to book early. The table is yours for as long as you want it.

This is a restaurant at the vanguard of the regeneration of Esquilino, and it reflects truly magnificently everything that is great about this historic part of Rome in the 21st Century.

We're going back to Rome in September. And we'll certainly be making a return visit to Club Machiavelli. As a footnote I'll grade the dolci as a 10, and if the Machiavelli lives up to its name at all, this is in no way better illustrated by the qualities of the house grappa, which appears to be very friendly but is in fact capable of doing you great harm if you place too much faith in either its innocuous appearance or its reluctance to do damage to the inside of your skull.

This is an enterprise which deserves your attention if you like restaurants which are; A} Not at all interested in Menus Touristico. B} Not overly cheap while not making either you or your credit provider sweat too much. A typical Prima or Secondi works out at around 15 - 17, dolci tends to be around 5. Honestly can't remember how much an antipasti was, but you get the idea... C} Interested in combining real Italian food and traditions with innovation and a touch of multicultural flair. D} At all interested in broadening your experience of Rome and its gastronomic culture.

For more information Google Club Machiavelli. I'd recommend a good translation program if your Italian is as awful as mine.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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