Last month I joined my friend John and his lovely lady friend for Sunday lunch at Pipero al Rex. The restaurant opened on the ground floor of the Rex Hotel near Stazione Termini in early October and is the urban reincarnation of Alessandro Pipero’s eponymous restaurant, which he closed in nearby Albano Laziale last year.
The new restaurant is just off the lobby. The dining room is elegantly decorated and there are around 6 tables for a total of 16 covers. Pipero works the front of the house while Chef Luciano Monosilio runs the kitchen. At Pipero al Rex, the service is attentive but not oppressive and the food is creative and surprising. Pipero is a welcome addition to the neighborhood near Termini, which is not known for its stellar dining destinations (although there are a few). Here are some highlights from our 9-course tasting menu (priced at €80):
Duck breast tartare with green apple and mustard. This tied for my favorite dish along with the carbonara and chicken. This starter had really nicely contrasting flavors and a pleasant richness.
Giandiua-filled cappelletti in squab broth. Around a third of the cappelletti were filled with liver, which offset the subtle sweetness of the chocolate-hazelnut paste and matched its creaminess. Now that I think of it, this was right up there with the duck tartare, carbonara, and chicken. Super dish.
Sous vide chicken with oyster mayonaise. This was a really light and tender chicken dish and the subtle oyster mayo brought a pleasant viscosity.
Squab with figs and polenta. The meat was nicely cooked and rare. The fig’s sweetness was a fine pairing with the juicy squab. This dish was followed by a plate of carbonara (the house specialty, which is sold in 50g increments and has its own dedicated page on the menu). We were a bit disappointed that it hadn’t come with the menu and joked it would make a fitting dessert. Pipero agreed and brought it to the table as a sort of pre-dessert. This break with the coursing canon to indulge in carbonara was a brilliant, if heavy, success.
I was a bit less enthusiastic about the first dessert, called simply “pineapple and pineapple”. Who do I talk to about banishing pineapple from Roman desserts. The next dessert was interesting and presented a surprising combination of autumnal produce: bits of persimmon were dusted with cinnamon and hazelnuts and topped with a scoop of porcini mushroom ice cream and a spongy cake. I think I liked it. But I’m still not sure.
The meal came to just over €100 per peson, including the tasting menu, a small portion of carbonara and a sip or two of wine. We thoroughly enjoyed the tasting menu and agreed it was one of the better meals we had had in Rome lately. I’m anxious to return, perhaps for a beautifully al dente carbonara at lunchtime or a few a la carte dishes at dinner. But then again, I wouldn’t rule out a second stab at that tasting menu.
Pipero al Rex
Via Torino 149 – Rome
Mon-Sat 12:30-15 & 19:30-23, Sun 13-15.