The doors of Vitti IL Ristorante by Christian Spalvieri open to the public in the Roman spring as the newest successful restaurant sign in the Prati district.
A Triumph of Italian and Japanese Cuisine
At the helm of the kitchen is Roman chef Christian Spalvieri, who, after some prominent experiences in London in Gordon Ramsay’s large group, returns to Italy for this venture alongside Yukari Vitti, former manager, and sommelier of Taki, a flagship restaurant for lovers of Japanese cuisine.
Together Christian and Yukari have built a menu made up of creative dishes that focus on the great love for domestic raw ingredients but also the riches and secrets of products from Japan.
With this latest opening, the Vitti Group, after the great success of Taki, returns to focus on research cuisine in Rome, choosing to collaborate with Roman chef Christian Spalvieri in a restaurant that takes its family name, becoming Vitti IL ristorante by Christian Spalvieri, a fusion of Yukari’s ideas and energy but also Christian’s identity and creativity.
At the center of the proposal is the refinement of flavors, but above all the idea of a cuisine “in dialogue,” a constant exchange between Italy and Japan.
The Culinary Journey of Vitti IL Ristorante by Christian Spalvieri
Christian’s Italian, Mediterranean-style comfort food is structured in a menu that sees within it four courses for each course in a particularly articulate carte full of curious quotations.
Hence the menu offers four appetizers, four first courses, four main courses, and four desserts that include both meat and fish, of course, with a good presence of seasonal vegetables and, as anticipated, a clear homage to Japan.
There are three tasting courses: the first includes three courses, two of which are savory and one sweet, to be chosen by the guests from the menu; the second, five courses linked to tradition with dishes closer to the territory; and finally, the third, again with five courses, but “free-hand” in which one can try the chef’s most personal and creative dishes.
In Chef Christian’s kitchen, there is one great main ingredient: work on the raw material. All dishes are built from this base, with perfect attention and balance that lead to the result of taste and pleasantness that Christian wants to achieve: diners will find, therefore, complete and round dishes, always rich in vegetables, made even more enveloping thanks to the contribution of sauces and aromatic elements.
On the Menu at Vitti IL Ristorante
A prime example is precisely that of the appetizer Asparagus, umeboshi, and béarnaise, which is composed at the base of a variation of asparagus served in three versions: barbecued, raw in carpaccio and in cream – in this case using white asparagus. The dish is finished with parsley oil and toasted hazelnuts to make it round in flavor and tasty on the palate along with béarnaise sauce. The umeboshi, a Japanese seasoning made from salted plums, together with the vegetable notes of the asparagus, balances the dish by giving additional freshness and acidity.
Another appetizer that encapsulates this attention to raw material with citation to Japan and centrality of the vegetable element is the Cuttlefish in Bloom, a cuttlefish with yellow, romanesque, and green zucchini. The cuttlefish is cooked using the Japanese technique of shabu shabu, an onomatopoeic name that precisely translates the sound of dishes quickly immersed in dashi broth to be cooked. The dish is rounded off with hazelnut beurre blanc and a cuttlefish liver and chocolate sauce, reminiscent of homemade black pudding.
Among the first courses, Plin with courtyard ragout, seaweed butter, and fermented mushrooms is an egg pasta stuffed with rabbit, guinea fowl, and lamb sautéed with a rabbit base and fermented mushrooms. It is served with Japanese seaweed butter – kombu seaweed and wakame seaweed – and finished at the table with grated foie gras.
This is followed by the Risotto camomile, lamb ham, and bitter herbs, a Carnaroli sautéed with camomile butter, homemade lamb shoulder ham, chopped bitter herbs like mint, marjoram, thyme, and toasted almond with Alpeggio herb cheese.
A playful and fun first course is, then, the Spaghettone cacio e gomasio, reminiscent of cacio e pepe because of its colors and its idea of putting together pecorino cheese with a spice. In this case, Christian thought of a long pasta like spaghettone tossed with cacio and embellished, as far as the pungent and aromatic part is concerned, instead of pepper, by a pounding of nori seaweed, black sesame and horseradish root.
Christian says, “I don’t think it [this dish] can be defined as a true reinterpretation of the classic Cacio e Pepe, which in fact is a dish with its own history and many recipes that we can now call auteur. I would perhaps say that it is more of a play between the pepper that is used for the classic Roman dish and this sui generis pesto, with an oriental imprint. Far be it from me to make a Cacio e Pepe provocation by making it fashionable! As far as I’m concerned, it’s already perfect as it is.”
Meat main courses include Varvara Selection Lamb in multiple variations – barbecued, seasoned, and spit-roasted – with cream of bear garlic, pine nut milk, and elderflower bottom, and Rabbit alla cacciatora with Jerusalem artichoke and barbecued artichoke; two fish main courses, namely Razza camouflage with stuffed friggitello and buttermilk and Turbot with beurre blanc with mustard, vignarola, and cannoli chips.
As for desserts, here are Sesame, hibiscus, chocolate and honey, Millefoglie with vanilla namelaka, creamy fondant, and salted caramel and TiraMisò, with miso cream, Marsala mousse and cocoa, a great classic of the Italian end of the meal with a hint of Japan, also the result of the work of the talented pastry chef Alessia Trussardi.