I’ve just discovered there’s a little corner of Paris in Rome, and you should too. Madeleine is one year old, launched by the same owners of Caffè Propaganda and Goa night club, equally inspired by traditional old-school European flair.
The play of the Parisian-inspired brasserie is on creating a completely French ambiance, with focus on memory-triggered sensations. There are plenty of portraits of Proust and madeleine molds occupying shelf space. Among the lovely porcelain statuettes of “baigneuses” are period memorabilia, chinoiserie and grandmother’s teacups, framed portraits and trinkets that create a warm atmosphere that’s however elegant and oh-so-Parisienne.
Opposite the entrance and glass-paned windows overlooking wrought iron tables in the elegant streetside seating, is the open kitchen, in plain view behind elegant glass walls. The main dining room has marble tables and chesterfield booths. The warm lighting and dark wood-panelled walls work to create a romantic setting dripping with French Belle Époque: you’ll find yourself lowering your voice, conspiring romantic plans and secretly brushing knees with your date under the table. A niche carved to the side of the main dining room houses a large oval oak table that can seat 15 guests for private parties, team events and other group activities. The wallpaper in this space is gorgeous. The Boudoir Corner at the far end of the spacious main room is the realm of barman Federico Leone and director Patrick Pistolesi, who mix both siganture and classic cocktails.
The menu – that changes every two months according to season – is curated by Michelin-starred chef Riccardo Di Giacinto (All’Oro, Madre), the young kitchen brigade is coordinated by resident chefs Daniele Ladaga and Simone Ballicu. Dishes draw from modern Roman classics, with a hint of France. I particularly enjoyed the hors d’oeuvres, especially the Cappuccino Madeleine: creamed potato, poached egg, crispy artichoke petals and a chorizo savory mini madeleine.
The red shrimp “crudo” served with quenelles of pappa al pomodoro, burrata and basil-scented olive oil was equally delicious. I tasted two representative starters, the wild-herb risotto with black truffle, and the house tortelli filled with butter and anchovies, topped with zucchini and confit tomatoes.
The pastry kitchen is supervised by baker Mattia Mezzina trained under French celebrity Stephane Betmon. Cakes, puddings, warm assorted madeleines, macarons: you won’t know what hit you. Just take a look at the pastry menu…
Madeleine is open daily from 8:00 a.m. serving morning breakfast in the patisserie area, with flaky homemade croissants and caffeinated beverages. At lunchtime you’ll bump into RAI TV employees and radio celebrities, and from 6:00 p.m. you can stob by for aperitivo and then dinner, which is served until 11:00 p.m., perfect for post theatre or cinema. The Boudoir serves cocktails until 2:00 a.m.
Madeleine – Salon de Gastronomie
Via Monte Santo 64 (Prati)
Tel. +39 063728537
Images © Andrea Di Lorenzo for Madeleine
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.