To capture the essence of Futurism in food, a restaurant must have a style, a sense of humor and of course food that inspires and perhaps challenges the ordinary. It must transport, it must be fun, it must be visually exciting.
Hidden in the Testaccio section of Rome is a place that does just that. Across from the major modern art museum MACRO , a small set of stairs emerging from a weedy bed of small lemon tree plants leads up to a place a futurist’s kind of shrine, a gallery-cum-restaurant.
All photos by Mauro Benedetti unless otherwise noted
Once inside, the cobblestones and traffic fade away, and light, color and creativity take over the senses.
The restaurant is adjacent to a gallery space, which is currently dedicated to a show of lesser/known futurist Italian futurist painters. The works are divided into two rooms, one for the northern Italian painters, and the other for the southern.
When you finally pry yourself away from the unpretentious and unexpectedly copious display, your Marinetti cocktail is awaiting you in the dining room. When seated at the table, you realize that you really never left the gallery––each tabletop is a hand-painted tribute to a futurist artist. They room glows with an ambient blue light creating diagonal forms on the white walls covered with splashy and vibrant paintings.
The food begins to arrive, course by course, presented modestly, but cleverly, on black plates offsetting the vivid concoctions. From a star-shaped tea sandwich spread with tuna paté to a wedge of meat brushed green with a spinach pureé to a smooth, curved bubble of custard, each course contains a message for the senses. Color and taste combine, the act of eating is, as Marinetti desired, elevated from the ordinary. Marinetti also held that the food combinations should shock and wrote outlandish (even repulsive) recipes.
Palermo-born Michele Vaccarella, who designed the dishes at MICRO , adapts the radical ideas to contemporary tastes. His risotto all’alchechingio fairly melted on the tongue with a mild warming sweetness, but left a pleasant tangy aftertaste. The unexpected bitter cocoa infused into the chicken marinade had the same effect––surprise followed by satisfaction.
A meal created by Michele Vaccarella (opposite page) after Marinetti, for Taverna Dei Futuristi restaurant, Rome
A little creation
Futurist Marinetti’s cocktail for light flying complements a picturesque appetizer “designed” after the painter Filli
Rice with physalis
The physalis is a Chinese berry with an aerodynamic shape.
From futurist Pascà D’Angelo, “a light plate that is heightened and invigorated with pistachio and spring peas.
A caccia nel paradiso
From the Hunt in Paradise
Formula of the futurist aerial painter Fillia: Chicken cooked with sparkling wine and bitter cocoa powder, served in a green sauce made with spinach and various spices.
Mammelle sicilane nel sole
Sicilian breasts in the sun
An almond-milk custard confection served with a cherry.