La Pergola

Address: Hotel Rome Cavalieri, Via Alberto Cadlolo 101, Rome, 00136, Italy
Telephone: 06 3509 2152

- Expensive

4.7

Rome’s top gourmet restaurant delivers fantastic food and breathtaking views – at a price.

La Pergola stands head and shoulders above Rome’s other gourmet restaurants, literally and metaphorically. With its eagle’s-perch view over the city and the Vatican, it offers not only Rome’s best meal with a view; it offers Rome’s best gourmet meal, period. Though it’s within the [node:119858] hotel, it doesn’t suffer from hotel restaurant syndrome: the vast majority of the clientele come from outside, and those staying at the Cavalieri need to book weeks in advance just like everybody else. What it does suffer a little from is gourmet pride and pretension. It’s only one of six restaurants in Italy to have achieved the Michelin guide’s top ranking of three stars, and a meal here has an edge of showmanship to it: you’re not so much going out for a meal as buying a ticket for a night out at a culinary theatre whose star attractions are chef Heinz Beck’s masterful contemporary cuisine, the impeccable choreography of the waitstaff, and that dazzling view. I’ve eaten here three times in the 15 years that the restaurant has been open, paying my way each time. Of the three meals, the best was the most recent: the service was less oppressive, and Beck seemed to have discovered a new lightness in his cooking.

Food and drink
5
90%
Service
4.9
90%
Food and drink
5
90%
Value for money
4
90%
Ambience
4.7
90%
Location
4.7
90%

Food and drink

Heinz Beck’s world-class creative Mediterranean cuisine shows that advanced culinary technique and showy presentation can go hand in hand with the old-fashioned idea that the most important thing about any dish is that it should taste good. Whether it’s a Roman-inspired dish of spaghetti cacio e pepe (with sheep’s cheese and black pepper) given an exotic twist with the addition of lime-marinaded prawns, or a tender amberjack fillet served with turnip tops and a ‘snow’ (or foam) of salt cod, the combos may sound risky on paper but almost always work. Last time I was here I got to visit the wine cellar – an Aladdin’s cave of vintages that you read about but rarely see. They have some less challenging wines on the compendious list too, though not much for less than 50 euros.

Ambience

There’s a nod at Ancient Rome in the classical columns and cornices, but the main impression is one of restrained luxury, with the glass frontage and outside terrace – beyond which is that view - monopolising one’s attention. Tables are large and so well spaced that they feel like separate islands within the room. The clientele is, as you would expect, pretty high-end, with a mix of serious gourmets and those who have so much money that La Pergola is just another thing you do in Rome, like the [node:168805] and the Sistine Chapel.

Service

Ultra-professional; but it’s also less fawning than it used to be. On my last visit, I even managed to pour my own water (only once, admittedly – and the waiter did look shocked). Head sommelier Marco Reitano is an authority on wine – but also a very nice guy.

Location

It’s miles from the centre, on the top floor of the Cavalieri Hilton hotel, with diorama views back over Rome. The only sensible way to get here is by taxi.

Price advice

I don’t know where you put 200-250 euros a head with a good bottle of wine on a value for money scale – but given that you can pay that in Rome for a single night in an uninspiring hotel room, maybe it’s not that bad. There are a couple of tasting menus – but they offer no significant saving (last I checked, the cheapest was pegged at 175 euros).

Recommended for

  • Foodies
  • Celebrity spotting
  • Great views / scenery
  • Romance

Details