From the starred kitchen of Fiumicino to the "pop" seafood cuisine in Rome. Gallo, a seafood trattoria, opens in Rome

Apr 30 2024, 14:57
Fresh fish, bought daily by the chef at auction with his van, and traditional dishes in a simple yet refined atmosphere. Gallo, the student of Lele Usai, arrives in Rome

by Carlo Mastrangeli

In Rome, in the Esquilino district, a new seafood restaurant has opened just a week ago. It's called Gallo Ristorante di Pesce and perhaps, almost unwittingly, it has brought back to the neighborhood a good seafood dining destination that has always been here for at least twenty years. Those with a good memory may recall that in Esquilino - 50 meters from where Gallo is now - until a couple of years ago, there was Ottavio, which for many Romans was the go-to place for quality seafood, especially raw dishes. The pandemic marked its end, but perhaps it had run its course anyway. So welcome, Gallo!

Gallo opens in Rome

Peeking through the large windows overlooking via di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, you catch a glimpse of the dining room: sober yet elegantly furnished with white tablecloths, polished glassware, and cutlery. A style that, looking from the outside, doesn't anticipate what is actually the restaurant's greatest strength: a traditional seafood cuisine, created without the frills of "gourmet" dining but with the technical expertise that it presupposes. Chef and owner of Gallo Restaurant is Lorenzo Gallo. "Me and most of the team involved in this venture worked at Il Tino with chef Lele Usai, and if this new adventure has started, it's thanks to him."

So there is great gratitude not only for the important professional experience gained in Fiumicino between the Michelin-starred Il Tino and the pop proposal of il 4112 but also because when Lorenzo confided in chef Usai that he wanted to open his own restaurant in Rome, the chef not only welcomed this news enthusiastically but also made himself available to help Gallo find the place. "Chef Usai found this place in the heart of Esquilino. It was mid-October 2023 - Lorenzo recounts - the chef called me to tell me there was a place to see in the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme area. We went to see it together, and even though there were ongoing works and many more to be done, I immediately understood that this was the right place to open my restaurant." And so, between renovations and some inevitable bureaucratic delays, the official inauguration took place on April 20th.

What to eat at Gallo

Extremely fresh ingredients, mostly from the Lazio coast, personally selected almost daily by Lorenzo Gallo, including Wednesdays, which would be the restaurant's closing day and therefore his day off. "I bought a refrigerated van so I can go to the auctions in Fiumicino but also in Naples when necessary. I choose the best fish and bring it fresh here to Rome." Gallo explains that while his restaurant offers a very classic seafood cuisine, from his long experience in the Michelin-starred restaurant in Fiumicino, he has learned fish processing techniques, including the ability to minimize waste almost completely. "We use everything from the fish. Bones, heads, shells that are perfect for making all the stocks that we then use to flavor different dishes." The menu is concise, with 4 or 5 dishes per course. The choice of appetizers is wider, featuring, alongside the raw seafood platter, various classics of seafood cuisine such as sautéed mussels, a delicious squid fry to dip in tartar sauce, and mascordini stew. Also among the first and second courses, a series of timeless classics well executed, such as spaghetti with lupins, potato gnocchi with seafood, and a mixed grill and a rich crustacean Catalan. The homemade bread is good, a warm loaf to dip in extra virgin olive oil.

Substance in the dishes and elegance in the dining room

In the dining room, Claudia Turco, Gallo's partner, and Valentina Ferrante, both previously on Usai's team, take care of welcoming guests, service, and the wine list. They handle themselves very well in this large restaurant, which normally accommodates 50 people, but in this initial phase, reservations are limited to a maximum of 40. If the dishes resemble those of a traditional seafood trattoria, the service is elegant, recalling some precautions from the Michelin-starred experience that are beneficial for any type of dining. One example: cleaning the table of crumbs and more before dessert arrives! For now, wine selection is limited to a very basic wine list that will certainly undergo changes and expansions over time. However, there is a good selection of Lazio labels, some French names, and a total openness to both natural and conventional wines. However, at Gallo, you feel comfortable in an environment that is strangely retro for a team with an average age of no more than thirty. The bill is absolutely fair for this seafood cuisine, averaging around €55/€60 per person for a full meal, excluding wine.

Gallo ristorante di Pesce - via Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, 29 - Roma - Pagina Facebook

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