Largo Febo 2 (Piazza Navona) Rome 00186 Italy
Tel: +39 06 682831 „
=This review is for the restaurant situated in Hotel Raphael - I did not stay in the rooms=
On my recent trip to Rome, I wanted to go out for a really posh meal with my boyfriend where money was no object for one night only. We are only students so this is a very rare occasion for us, but it was my birthday just before we left and my Mum gave me a bit of money to treat ourselves.
I did a bit of a Google and found this Hotel restaurant. The menu is organic vegetarian with a few fish specialities - the Chef believes very strongly in organic vegetarian food for its health and environmental benefits. As a vegetarian with a passion for organic food it sounded perfect - and it was a nice posh place which was even better! I found it had a gorgeous rooftop terrace overlooking Piazza Navona so I sent them an e-mail asking to book a table for 7.30 (a little early for Rome - but I get hungry early!!) on the rooftop terrace. They quickly responded informing me they had received my booking and that my place on the rooftop terrace would be subject to the weather.
Upon our arrival in Rome we were very disappointed with the weather - it was very cloudy and there were frequent rain showers. I was gutted and all I could think about was my rooftop terrace meal! At 7pm on the night of our booking I received a phone call from the manager informing me they had taken the decision to close the rooftop terrace to diners because of the weather, but I would be very welcome in the inside restaurant. Obviously I was upset, but I think I'd already resigned myself to the fact we were eating inside!
The hotel is just outside Piazza Navona (near the Pantheon) on the North-Western corner. You can get the 64 bus from Termini station, but there isn't really a close Metro Station. The building is covered in thick green plants creeping up right to the top floor with lots of fairy lights intertwined - it's really beautiful. Everything inside is very gilded and intricate in true Roman fashion. Upon arrival we went to reception where they asked for our restaurant booking and photocopied both our I.Ds for some reason.
We were a little early for our meal so we went to the roof terrace just for the view - it was a great view! There were a few people there having drinks, but the rain started pretty soon after so I imagine they were moments away from rushing inside! If you just want a nice drink with a view I'd definitely recommend this rooftop terrace when the weather's right!
We walked past some of the rooms on our way up to the roof terrace and they did look very posh! Way out of my price range so I can't imagine you'll be seeing a review of the rooms from me anytime soon!
It's worth noting that the toilets are very fancy! One of the nicest toilet I've ever been in (The Park Lane Hotel in London would have to be my favourites though), but as an Eco-Warrior I was disappointed to see the only way to dry your hands was with a proper hand towel that you take out the basket, use yourself and then throw in the laundry basket! I visited the toilet 3 times (lots of Prsecco) and there is no way I'm making them wash 3 decent sized towels every time I dry my hands.
We went back down to the ground floor where the restaurant is situated and were welcomed in a very friendly manner. We were first in so had our choice of table and were brought the menus over. There were no specials which I was surprised at, but there was lots of choice on the menu so I wasn't bothered.
We had a few different waiters serve us throughout the night and all were very friendly and professional. At every course we were told what we were eating and they explained all the different flavours we would experience.
Our drinks were constantly topped up for us (probably to make us buy more!) which was nice. The only problem we had with service was that at the end of our meal we had to ask for the bill twice and it was still a long wait - I think they had a problem or something but I was getting really quite bored waiting as we'd finished our drinks.
As a vegetarian, the menu was my dream. My boyfriend wasn't let down either and didn't feel like his meal was lacking anything, despite not being a vegetarian himself. We ordered a bottle of Prosecco - the second cheapest bottle on their wine list (not intentional - we just liked the sound of it) at 32 euros a bottle.
The Menu has appetisers, first courses, second courses and desserts. At about 16-20 euros per course we decided to skip appetisers completely - we didn't even look at them in case they were too tempting! I know I said money was going to be no object that night, but you have to draw the line somewhere!
After ordering we were brought a basket of bread and an Amouse Bouche which was a collection of diced vegetables in delicious oil. I didn't ask for balsamic vinegar for my bread which I regretted afterwards as that's my favourite!
For my first course I had Spaghetti Pomedoro; it sounds a bit boring - spaghetti in tomato sauce, but I had complete faith that they would make it worth my money. It was amazing! The tomato sauce was so naturally sweet and not like the tomato sauce we have at home. My boyfriend gave the cheese ravioli in a tomato sauce a try and loved it as well. His tomato sauce was slightly different and I think I preferred mine. We both mopped up the sauce with some of the leftover bread. My portion was slightly more generous than his, but both were bigger than what we would class a starter at home. The Italian system of first and second course is different to our starter and main concept and I still can't get used to it.
Very shortly after we finished our first courses we were brought our second courses. I went for the 'bread and aubergine balls' with a spinach side salad. I had no idea what to expect, but I thought it sounded interesting. What I got was amazing! The balls were actually like meat-free meatballs similar to something Quorn would make, but much much better. It was served on a bed of mashed potato with a ragu-style sauce and my spinach salad on the side. I'm not really a salad person, but the spinach was flavoured beautifully and I loved it.
My boyfriend had the omelette with peas, mint and onions. I didn't try his, but it got 5 stars from him. I don't know how, but they managed to make an omelette posh. We both had to leave some food as we were just way to full. I think we only left just over a mouthful each because I really wanted to finish, but I just couldn't!
Now, my favourite dessert in the world is Tiramisu and I was looking forward to trying theirs as I imagine it was pretty good, but I honestly couldn't fit in another bite. This is very unlike me - I am rarely full and was not expecting to be full from a restaurant like this - usually it's very good food, but tiny portions. I was disappointed, but I left full and very very satisfied (and the next day I got Tiramisu from Pompi - well renowned as the best Tiramisu in Rome - so it's not all bad!).
Our bill came to 122 euros and we left 140 to include a tip. I was happy to pay this much on a rare occasion as it was really delicious and a lovely restaurant.
Overall I have to give it 5/5. It wasn't their fault it rained and we had to sit inside, but that was a shame! The inside was gorgeous though and we had a fantastic evening! Food was amazing and I felt really posh for once!