La Rosetta, Rome

January 22, 2009

Since its founding in 1966, La Rosetta has had the reputation of being Rome’s best fish and seafood restaurant, so, naturally, Linda, Sue and I wanted to try it. Our dinner there on January 14, 2009 was by far the most expensive of our Roman stay, but that is typical of great seafood restaurants anywhere in the world. 

We were seated at a table near the front where we could watch the generally well-dressed clientele come and go. There are 45 seats in the small, but elegant, space near the Pantheon. We had a good view of the serving shelf outside the kitchen window and could see the plates as the waiters picked them up. It was good theater.

We were promptly offered a glass of Monsupello sparkling rosé and an amuse-gueule of crispy seabass in squid ink with leeks and pumpkin soup with sea bass and bottarga.

A tasting menu with oysters, raw fish, a pasta, a fish dish and dessert was offered at 170€, but we decided to order à la carte. We ordered the first of two bottles of 2007 Friulano, a NE Italian white wine which went well with the cuisine.

Linda and Sue started with
Fritturina di Moscardini e Scampetti con fili di zucchini
The small shrimp and tiny squid were nicely fried as were the zucchini strips. They were crisp in a tempura-style batter. But the puntarella (front) was undersauced.

My first course was
Polpo verace grigliato e melone bianco alla piastra con salsa salmoriglio

The octopus was perfectly grilled; it was dressed with an olive oil, lemon and garlic sauce. The white melon garnish gave a refreshing contrast.

Linda’s pasta was
Spaghetti alla chitarra con Branzino e carciofi romaneschi

The flavorful sea bass coupled with crisp pieces of artichoke and superb pasta made this an elegant dish.

Sue’s primo was
Gran risotto alla pescatora

This risotto was full-flavored from a robust shellfish stock. The delicious shrimp tails were barely cooked. The bottarga garnish was flaked, which gave a better sense of mullet roe than the normal grating.

My pasta was
Linguine con Crostacei mediterranei cipolline e pomodori

The linguini were tossed with scampi and small squid, some of which had been crisp-fried so as to add a crunchy point of interest. The dried tomato strips also added a visual and taste contrast. Very good.

A small intermezzo of calamari con carciofi in a bowl was offered.

Artichokes were in season and went nicely with the  squid which had been cooked in the broth and so were quite different from the crisp grilled or deep-fried versions.

Linda’s main course was
Spigola d’amo al limone e capperi con Gamberi rossi croccanti e carciofi

The pastry-wrapped shrimp was a melt-in-your-mouth surprise that set off the sea bass and artichokes with lemon and capers. Excellent.

Sue’s secondo was
Triglie alla salvia con riso venere e Calamari

The little filets of rougets were disappointing, perhaps a bit overcooked. The moscardini (tiny squid) atop the black forbidden rice were the star of the dish.

My main was
Scamponi gratinati ai porri ed erbe con zucchini

The large local shrimp had been split open, topped with a leek, herb, breadcrumb mix and lightly broiled. This was a very elegant dish.

A little pre-dessert of a blueberry on mascarpone was offered even though we were full and did not order dessert. A plate of mignardises was also brought.


We were very glad we came to La Rosetta. The ingredients were first class. The cuisine was generally executed with the necessary precision. It was up to date without diverging from Italian traditions. The service was attentive and the pace was right. Bravo.

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