A dining experience not to be missed – wine-lovers and food-lovers alike will adore this spot located just outside of Rome. Discover this jewel of a restaurant with its amazing cuisine and romantic vineyard views.
Experience the refined and authentic cuisine of Chef Dino De Bellis in an atmosphere of understated elegance at Epos. The bistro, which is part of the winery Poggio Le Volpi, is suspended among the rows of vines, and offers a unique and special gourmet moment just a few kilometers from Rome, in the heart of Castelli Romani, in Monte Porzio Catone.
Epos is a real hub of taste, with an informal and convivial allure, where patrons can taste simple and exquisite dishes, all made with local products linked to the seasonal availability of produce and the veracity of the local traditions. To complete the refined enogastronomic offer, there is a large open grill where the finest meats from all over the world are cooked, all characterized by long maturation, perfect for matching with the winery’s wine labels.
This really is a stop not to be missed for those looking for a relaxing getaway in an exceptional location. The restaurant is adorned by a room designed with attention to the smallest detail and bright windows that open up to romantic rows of vines. The menu is curated by the culinary creations of a great interpreter of Italian cuisine, Dino De Bellis, the professional caterer and Executive Chef of the bistro.
The menu celebrates the rich history of the territory and includes traditional local dishes as well. Products are carefully selected daily with great attention paid to sourcing them from as close as possible, often from right on site. Respecting the seasonality of food is important at the bistro as well. Using what nature offers is a key to its dishes that burst with flavor. The large open grill placed in the center of the main room highlights how attention to great technique and genuine food can create flavors visitors will long remember.
For those who adore pairing food and wines, Epos’ wine list is a varied wonderland, featuring labels from its own Poggio Le Volpi and its sister winery Masca del Tacco in Puglia, an estate owned by Felice Mergè – together the two wineries produce more than 13 million bottles from their 200 hectares of land. However, the wine list doesn’t stop there. It boasts bottles from other top Italian estates as well as prestigious French labels from Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champagne, and wines from other international vineyards as well.
Epos dominates the estate of patron Felice Mergè and is spread over the two upper levels of the elegant country chic structure, right above the barrel room where the other family jewel, the gourmet restaurant Barrique, is located. From the very first impact, the bistro presents itself with a warm and pleasant style that invites diners to immerse themselves in a fairy tale of taste, with cuisine that enhances the fruits of a fertile land while simultaneously combining the passion and the most authentic history of the place with cutting-edge cooking techniques.
“A cuisine closely linked to tradition, aimed at enhancing the authenticity of the territory, recreating the flavors of the past through innovative techniques and with absolute respect for the raw material,” notes Dino De Bellis describing his culinary philosophy. Roman, self-taught host and chef, Dino De Bellis arrived in Monte Porzio after an important experience as Executive Chef at Vyta Enoteca Regionale del Lazio, a format focused on the enhancement of Lazio’s products, of which Chef De Bellis is an expert interpreter and connoisseur. It is precisely this vocation for territoriality, combined with a passion for cuisine centered on raw materials and the excellence of small producers, that brought him to the heart of Castelli Romani.
With the help of Sous-Chef Fabio Dalla Lana and the entire brigade of Epos, Chef De Bellis recounts tradition while having fun and entertaining. Examples from the menu include: Pumpkin Velouté with Cardoncelli mushrooms, September figs, sprouts, and toasted hazelnuts, a tribute to autumn with its enveloping colors and flavors; Gricia Aromatica, the chef’s now-iconic dish, that uses, in addition to the traditional ingredients pecorino cheese and guanciale, the addition of caramelized red onions, confit tomatoes, and substitutes coffee powder for pepper; and the tasty lamb cooked in two ways (fried and baked) served with Roman-style artichokes.
Seasonality is the theme that binds each dish to its ingredients, from Puntarelle chicory to the aforementioned artichokes – both of which are also available on the menu fried alla giudia. Another key concept is the quest to use zero-kilometer products or those coming directly from the lands right around Poggio Le Volpi, such as the grapes that sweeten the soft focaccia served as an appetizer together with the selection of local cheeses. Roma DOC, the winery’s flagship wine, used to poach pears for one of the bistro’s mouthwatering desserts.
A great option for foodies and wine lovers, Epos is also a mecca for meat lovers. The location features a large grill that dominates the center of the main room where the best long-matured meats from all over the world are prepared and cooked, such as Phenomena, Simmental, Black Angus, Galician, Cube Roll Tagliata, and the local Chianina or Fiorentina. Thanks to a careful choice of suppliers, the restaurant selects only those that practice free-grazing and feed with natural fodder, a diet that gives a unique taste to the meat. For example, the Galician is recognizable by its typical sweet flavor attributed to the corn and carrots with which the breed is fed.
The grill is heated with olive wood obtained from the same company that produces the fresh olive oil served at the table. The peculiarity of this wood is the extreme delicacy and light fragrance that it releases without flavoring the meat too much during cooking.
What characterizes the exposition of meat in Epos’ refrigerator cabinet is its maturing which, if compared to the world of wine, is a process similar to the aging in cask. The maturing technique makes the meat more tender, delicate, and juicy – and at Epos, its time can vary from a minimum of 60 days to more than 200 days.
Other descriptive parameters of the meat are the weight, the marbling, that is the distribution of fat defined according to what is referred to in Italian as prezzemolatura (patches of fat resembling parsley leaves), and the venatura (infiltrations of fat arranged in clearly visible bundles). At the table all cuts are served on a granite stone which combines two essential aspects – it keeps the meat warm and, if desired, can continue slow cooking.
Meat lovers, foodies, wine lovers, and travelers from near or far – taking a moment to relish the territories outside of the capital are one way to enhance the Roman experience. Combine a leisurely meal with a scenic drive, a winery tour, or time exploring out-of-the-way locations, and gift yourselves a real taste of Italy’s marvelous countryside.