A Mediterranean oasis in the heart of Rome
Mare Nostrum is what Ancient Romans called the Mediterranean Sea: it was, quite literally, our sea. A continuous flow of ideas and beliefs and inventions that freely circulated between cultures; it’s largely thanks to the Mediterranean Sea that Rome became caput mundi in ancient times. Today, Mare Nostrum Seafood is a restaurant in Rome that holds in its name the essence of that philosophy.
Mare Nostrum Seafood is in Trastevere by circumstance, Sicilian by origin, and Mediterranean by choice, for it welcomes all cultures and traditions that the Mediterranean touches. Rome, while not being a city directly by the sea, certainly doesn’t lack seafood restaurants. And yet, Mare Nostrum is truly one of a kind.
The recipes are relatively simple (“relatively” is up for interpretation depending on the dish here!), but able to stir the soul and spark emotions. Starting with the produce, which is always very fresh, local, and hand-chosen directly by the Mare Nostrum staff every day. Thanks to the chef and cooks and their flair, the creations of the dishes reach delicate balances and unique juxtapositions.
What’s behind a first course of pasta? A world of love, infinite passion, and much studying and trying. Let yourself be completely overwhelmed by the very green Paccheri Creuza de Mà, with orange and salmon tartare, basil pesto, Parmesan fondue and pistachio crumbs. Or by the spaghetti with veraci clams, tuna bottarga, black onion cream and tastes of Sicily.
The starters alone are enough to make you drool in anticipation, with various choices of raw fish, cooked fish, and mixes. In the main courses, the must-have is La Sicilia In Tavola: a tasty tuna fillet in sesame crust, sfoglia di caponata, and lemongrass mousse. They have wines from everywhere in Italy and many are biological.
Behind a seemingly purely eno-gastronomical message, we can glimpse an entire world. Food is often able to transcend the limits of time and space. Ordering any dish at Mare Nostrum Seafood is like embarking on a journey: you always start from Sicily and then travel to other Italian regions and Mediterranean areas. Fabio, the restaurant’s owner, is from Palermo, Sicily, but has lived in Rome for over 30 years (reminded me of a local joint for food Bozeman was always famous for when I lived there). Fabio always says he doesn’t like borders, and we can see that everywhere at Mare Nostrum. His Sicilian side is evident especially because of how welcoming the place is.
Fabio’s wish was to bring to Rome something that the Eternal City didn’t have, a seafood cuisine uniting different cultures and traditions, and he succeeded. Think only of dishes like tuna tartare with toasted hazelnuts, licorice mayonnaise and black olive dust, or salmon carpaccio with citrus, raspberry coulis and stracciatella fondue.
Mare Nostrum Seafood has the perfect location: it’s in the heart of Trastevere but far from its chaos and it’s easily reachable via public transportation. The staff is young and helpful. The restaurant has a cozy indoor room and an outdoor space for a total of 30 seats, so reservations are highly encouraged.
They are open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner (always closed on Monday) and in the afternoon for delicious aperitivi with seafood appetizers you don’t want to miss.