In Rome, restaurants that proudly display local fish at their entrance are a dime a dozen. More rare are those that show off heaping ice displays full of fresh crabs, lobsters, sweet red shrimp, and whole fish fit for an army. This is the first thing you see when you walk into Tempio di Iside, a small seafood restaurant just blocks from the Colosseum, a place passionately dedicated to serving the best fish in the Rome. Their vestibule accommodates more fish than people, and for good reason: once you sit down and hear the antipasto, primo and secondo possibilities described by the owner Francesco, it is likely you will want one of everything.
I highly recommend going to Tempio with a hearty appetite. Start with the antipasti crudi (raw appetizers), raw shrimp, sea urchin and scampi, oysters, and fish carpaccio. The antipasti cotti (cooked appetizers) could be broiled scallops, fried moscardini (tiny squid) or involtini di pesce spada (stuffed swordfish fillets) to name just a few of the available options.
First courses change daily and rely on the day’s catch. I always opt for pasta with gamberi rossi (red shrimp) and grated pecorino cheese. The combination of seafood in cheese is one you won’t often find in Rome but Tempio’s chefs aren’t bound by local traditions. Spaghetti ai ricci (sea urchin) is another treat and after having cleaned sea urchins for hours this past summer, extracting only enough roe for 3 meager portions, I enjoy this dish all the more!
Secondi are predominately grilled or steamed fish or crustaceans. The scampi al vapore (steamed scampi) are sweet and tender as are the gamberi rossi alla griglia (grilled red shrimp). If in a group, sharing a large whole grilled fish is an option. Francesco is more than happy to grab the raw catch by the gills and bring it to the table for inspection, only adding to the theatrical performance that typifies Tempio’s service.
Tempio di Iside is located at Via Pietro Verri, 11, just of the Via Labicana. They are open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended for dinner. Their number is 06 700 4741.