Walking into Michelin starred Imàgo, the Hassler Roma’s 6th floor panoramic restaurant, you are at once captivated by the views which include that of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Villa Colonna, Palazzo Venezia, Villa Medici and the Borghese gardens. Imàgo (or the Roof Restaurant, as it was known then) opened fifty years ago and was the very first panoramic restaurant in the whole of Italy.
After you have a moment to catch your breath, you notice the amazing ambience within the restaurant. Soft music, elegant marble floors with an antique-wooden inlay, dimmed lights reflecting off the mirrored-tables all conspire to create an impossibly romantic mood, as well as the sense of being in another time and space. The service at Imàgo is world class. The dining room is marshalled by excellent service staff, notably our sommelier was Alessandro Crognale who was exceedingly knowledgeable, friendly and made selection of the perfect wines seamless.
At the helm of the Imàgo experience is Chef Francesco Apreda. The menu is designed for a refined palate, drawing on Apreda’s experience working in top restaurants around the world. Each dish is carefully prepared and beautifully presented, taking inspiration from what the seasons have to offer. The result is food that is imaginative whilst firmly grounded in Italy’s rich history and culture.
We were privileged to indulge in an 11 course menu specially curated by Apreda in order to get a fuller understanding of his style.
The Medallion of Foie Gras served with Scones was an exquisitely luxurious start to our meal. Perfectly crisp on the outside and wonderfully decadent on the inside. The addition of Apreda's Sweet Rain Blend spice mix was a masterstroke which provided a lovely counterpoint.
The dish of Red Shrimps and Cardamom, Ham and Melon followed - a wonderful mélange of texture, natural sweetness and salinity. Aromatic cardamom embellished the delicate shrimp tartare while the addition of melon added the final touch to an enlivening combination of ingredients.
One of our favourite entrees, the Octopus and Seaweed was bursting at the seams with umami. The octopus was incredibly tender whilst retaining its robustness - expert cooking. The accompanying puree was well-seasoned and together with the varying textures of seaweed, it was a wonderful dish.
As expected of any great Italian restaurant, the pasta courses did not disappoint. The Parmesan Cheese Ravioli, Cold Tuna Broth and 7 Spices was precise and boasted a wonderful depth of flavour. The Marinara Risotto was a celebration of seafood with a back drop of citrus complexity courtesy of the well judged use of black lime. Similarly exquisite was the Buckwheat Tagliolini Pasta with Sardines, Nori and White Asparagus.
Our mains commenced with a beautifully fresh, vividly white piece of black cod served with purple vegetables which had been cooked to perfection. We were blown away by the silky texture and the golden-brown caramelised sake char. It was a stunning dish.
The famous dish of Chicken "Two Cultures" with Sweet Peppers and Teriyaki was absolutely memorable. Special cooking techniques resulted in both the breast and thigh of the chicken possessing the same texture and cooking at precisely the same rate - wonderfully tender and bursting with flavour. The tender morsels of chicken were served with firm potato spaghetti for a textural counterpoint. We savoured every mouthful.
A trio of sweet courses concluded our evening.
To start, the Neopolitan Sfogliatella "Samosa" Style with Green Tea Ice Cream set the scene. Then a wonderfully imaginative dish showcasing the immense capability in the kitchen. A truly novel and unlikely flavour combination of Ponzu-Flavoured Apricot Parfait, Beans and Rosemary that succeeded in balancing the earthiness of the beans, the luscious texture of the parfait and tartness of the ponzu. Thoroughly modern, this dessert pushed the boundaries and delighted.
And finally, a moreish dessert of Sweet Buffalo Mozzarella served with Shaved Iced Fruits and Balsamic Vinegar was simply stunning.
Imàgo, the Hassler Roma’s restaurant presents wonderfully refined, skilfully crafted contemporary cuisine against the breathtaking backdrop of the Eternal City. Combined with wonderfully attentive but unobtrusive service, Imàgo is very highly recommended.
Location: Piazza Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 6993 4726