When the sun rises, the hot ovens bake leavened products at CON.TRO Bistrot and the exhilarating scent of freshly baked pastries emanates from them as the neighborhood wakes up. At 7:00 everyday the bistrot opens its doors to start a full day of gastronomic voyage from breakfast until after dinner at midnight (with the exception of this period when the Anti-Covid regulations allow restaurants to stay open only until 18:00). With the efficient kitchen and dining team that owners Marco Tosti and Francesco Matteucci put together when it opened at the beginning of 2020, CON.TRO has fast become one of the destinations for something reliably good to eat at whatever time of the day.
CON.TRO is a modern and multifaceted address that’s organized to provide an all-day format from rich breakfasts to the informality of a bistrot for lunch, a convivial meeting place for cocktails and with a subdued ambience, a refined dinner menu, all created by Head Chef Daniel Celso and Pastry Chef Valentina Planta with the selected wines of Sommelier Jean Pierre Reeding.“Our dream was to bring a quality format into this neighborhood in which the entire product chain was transparent, with raw materials chosen by us and a proposal in the name of quality and surprise, a meeting point where to rediscover the goodness of the table,” declared the owners.
Chef Daniel Celso is an emerging name in the capital. He participated in one of openings of the restaurants of Michelin starred chef Cristina Bowerman then afterwards he took part as one of the kitchen brigade of another Michelin starred restaurant, Il Tino of Lele Usai and finally, at the kitchen of the historical Roman restaurant Osteria dell’Ingegno. Speaking about his kitchen, “Mine is a seasonal and local cuisine, here I have summarized my whole background, from the starred to the tavern. I know all my suppliers and I do not discount in terms of quality”. While for lunch his creations based on informal proposals designed for people who are on their short work breaks, the evening menu, in contrast, has more complexity and flair of culinary fantasy.
The production of the pastries is realized by Valentina Planta, a pastry chef who started her first steps with Francesco Apreda of Imàgo, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Rome. Anima in London with Francseco Mazzei followed then in the gourmet restaurant of Eataly, a production pastry chef for Bake Off Italia and finally in an Italian restaurant in Hungary before she joined the team of CON.TRO. At the bistrot, she creates cakes inspired by spoon desserts which she replicates to single portions using excellent raw materials such as Domori for chocolate and Agrimonti for jams. “For aesthetics I am inspired by France, plus I studied art and before preparing a dessert I draw it by hand,” says Planta.
The bistrot is sprawled out in a modern cosmopolitan environment characterized by black and white marble table tops, geometric flooring, velvet seats and matte gold trimmings. Almost the whole length of the bistrot is dominated by a large counter displaying the pizzas baked at the visible electric oven, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The architectural design, projected by La Forgia, instills an international and casual feel to the identity of the place. Twenty can be accommodated indoors and another twenty can stay outdoors. Of course, at this time of writing, there is less occupancy for the Anti-Covid regulations imposed by the government. Both owners had other business activities in other sectors for the past fifteen years and with the opening of CON.TRO, their dream to be a part of the food sector where quality is culminated has been accomplished.
The menu is divided into sections for breakfast, aperitif, lunch and dinner. For a healthy start, the breakfast menu has an ample selection of centrifuges and smoothies at €5 along with the freshly-baked croissants and pastries. The business lunch formulas range between €8 to €15. For aperitif, between 18:00 to 20:00, 3 kinds of tasting menus of cicchetti (finger food) which exclude drinks are up for the selection: 4 cicchetti (€18), 6 cicchetti (€25), and 8 cicchetti (€33). Platters of raw seafood (€27), and prosciutto and cheese in two sizes (€12 / €18) for the more classic options. These entries are best enjoyed with a fairly classic drink list created by Barlady Samantha Parente.
The dinner proposals are focused on the chef’s ability to generate dishes that highlight the ingredients’ strong characteristics through his creative ideas. The appetizers are between €11 to €14, first plates of pasta and risotto between €13 to €16, main course of fish, vegetables and meat between €17 to €20 and desserts at around €5. A tasting menu of 5 salty courses and 1 dessert (€45) that are personally selected by the chef is a good way to get to know the chef’s best proposals with an option of wine pairing at €20 as selected by the sommelier. The wine list has more than a hundred interesting proposals highlighting small Italian producers and indigenous grapes. With the sommelier’s special interest in French wines, there is also a selection of fine labels that are available by the glass.
The kitchen of CON.TRO is truly a gastronomic find with some outstanding dishes like the Tacos with Roman Style Lamb with the lamb cooked at low temperature, anchovy mayonnaise and grated caciocavallo cheese; Spaghettone with Broccoli Raab mixed with anchovy sauce, stracciatella cheese and taralli with fennel; Senatore Cappelli Hand-Cut Fettuccine with Braised Hanger Steak, Normandy Butter, Parmigiano Reggiano and Black Truffles with its explosion of tastes; and the tender Barbary Duck Breast with Pomegranate, Hazelnuts and Radicchio cooked into perfection.
CON.TRO Contemporary Bistrot
Via dell’Acquedotto del Peschiera, 156
00135 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 20976987
Open daily from 7:00 to 24:00
Note: The opening times have temporarily changed due to DPCM Anti-Covid restrictions.