A statement of secrecy and elegance. A refined restaurant hidden behind doors, untrodden corridors and shiny marble stairs in the heart of Rome. Donna E addresses dining with an approachable cuisine in an intimate and tranquil environment blending with the luxury of a five-star boutique art hotel, Elizabeth Unique Hotel. Its location may be at the very heart of the capital’s main hub of activities but Donna E maintains its privacy because it is accessible only through the sophisticated doors of the hotel and art-laden ornate path.
The Elizabeth Unique Hotel is a distinctive hotel of the Curatella Hotels Group, inside 18th century aristocratic Palazzo Pulieri Ginetti in the middle of Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo where its ancient history intertwines with the present stories. Studio Marincola, the Roman architectural firm that projected the interior design, furnishings and lighting denotes a refined atmosphere of a prestigious residence. The common areas and rooms are enriched with artistic contemporary content curated by Fabrizio Russo, owner of the historic Galleria Russo just a few steps from Piazza di Spagna.The protagonists of the collections are some Italian artists including Enrico Benetta, Veronica Montanino, Manuel Felisi, Luca Di Luzio, Michael Gambino and Giorgio Tentolini. The structure is a member of the Design Hotels, an exclusive community of hotels worldwide united by its identity of the same approach to design, architecture and experience.
A traditional cuisine with of notable simplicity, freshness and high quality is favored by its chef, Riccardo Pepe. Originally from the Italian region Basilicata, he moved to Rome for culinary studies then left for professional experiences in large brigades throughout Italy. Now that he is directing the kitchen of Donna E, he settled in the capital where he freely expresses his idea of Italian cuisine with pronounced traditionality and international influences. The region where he grew up in has its own exemplary gastronomic tradition and his great love for his land and link to his origins have left important imprints in his dishes. He has managed to find the right balance between tradition and contemporary where the base of his creations have the Italian foundation without overdoing on changes, just touches, to retain their characteristics and to enrich them with his own and style. In the kitchen, most are done by hand like the bread, pasta, biscuits and classic desserts.
The choice of raw materials is a journey through the length of Italy in search of excellence of farms and producers that respect heritage, environment and the natural growth of animals. With this careful selection, the chickens at Donna E come from the Pizzi Farm where the animals are grow freely in the barn as well as the Podolic cows that graze freely in the southern Appenines that provide their milk for the production of the Caciocavallo Podolico Lucano. There are also the Tuscan meats of Chianina and Cinta Senese, the organic flours of Mulino Marino of Cossano Belbo, the honey of Poeta and the delicacies of DOL (Denomination of Lazio Origin).
The menu has different proposals starting with the Appetizers (€18 to €24) like the Seared Octopus Served with Saffron Scented Potato Cream and Octopus Flavored Mayonnaise or the surprising twist of ingredients, the Jerusalem Artichoke Cream, Blue Cheese and Dark Chocolate. Among the First Courses (€18 to €22), the revisited version of the classic Spaghetti Garlic and Oil with Salted English Cream and Bread Croutons or as tradition dictates, a plate of Carbonara. For the Main Courses (€20 to €25), there are options for fish and meat like simply Catch of the Day that the chef cooks at his whim at the moment, or the Elizabeth Burger, a burger of Chianina with homemade white sourdough buns, curry mayonnaise, caramelized onions and scamorza cheese from Lucana. There are three proposals for Desserts ´(€10 to €12) which are the classic Tiramisù served like a pot of plant, or the Sbriciolata with English Cream and Chocolate Flakes, or the Elizabeth’s Cup, a delicious dessert fragrant with spicy aromas which are comprised of pears, pine nuts, ricotta mousse, crumble with English cream, chocolate flakes and spices. The food proposals are not limited to those in the menu because the day starts early at Donna E. From 7:30 in the morning onwards, a delectable geography of flavors accompany the guests with Italian pastries to rich international variations of breakfasts.
The wine list is noteworthy at Donna E for it was studied and selected by Luca Maroni, a well-known Italian wine expert just for the bistrot’s menu. His list comes from a selection of the best wine producers from the different regions of the country that also appear in the two editions of the Yearbook of the Best Italian Wines that he wrote. Handling the wine and the whole dining room is Giovanni Olivieri, the Restaurant Manager, who had been behind the management of large chains in northern Italy such as Marriott Hotel in the past.