An iconic Italian image catches the eye on entering Ristorante Rossini in the centre of Palma: It’s a famous 1960s black and white photograph of screen goddess Sophia Loren – dressed in a glamorous gown that reveals her enviable décolletage. Sophia once lived in Naples, capital of Italy’s Campania region – which is also the hometown of Rossini’s owner Ciro, who was already working here at the restaurant when he had the opportunity to buy it two years ago.
The slim Neapolitan has a warm Italian greeting for diners who come to his 60-cover restaurant, where there’s an intimate dining area on a mezzanine floor, as well as tables on the ground floor. It’s an Italian-kitsch-free zone, with no red-checked tablecloths or hanging straw-covered chianti bottles. Rossini’s interior is warm, welcoming and understated, with attractive lighting, tiled floors, and walls that are partly sandstone-faced; Klimt prints and Ms Loren decorate the walls, and unobtrusive background music barely registers amid the pleasant buzz of conversation. Diners are mainly Mallorcan, Spanish, English and German.
We started with a glass of Prosecco, served with a basket of bread and grissini sticks, and a small dish of bruschetta and olives. The menu – written in Spanish, German, and English – offers a broad range of starters, pastas, risottos, fish and meat dishes, and desserts, and Ciro described the additional pasta and risotto dishes on offer that day. When we visited, menu prices didn’t include VAT – but the prices shown below, and on the restaurant’s website, are inclusive of the tax.
First, we tried the selection of Rossini mixed vegetables with olive oil, one of 16 starters offered. The portion was enough for two to share and, if you wouldn’t usually consider ordering a plate of vegetables as a starter, we recommend trying this healthy, delicious dish. Next, a winning combination: a starter of well-dressed rocket salad with slices of parmesan and cherry tomatoes in balsamic vinegar.
Ciro suggested two of the day’s additional special pasta dishes: ravioli with truffle (as truffle fans, we found this simply delicious), and taglioni served with large flavourful prawns and porcini, also extremely good. There was no need to ask for the pepper mill; one of Ciro’s efficient all-Italian team unfailingly appeared with it at the appropriate moments. All the pasta is fresh and made in chef Massimo Silvestro’s partly visible kitchen. Silvestro has worked in some well-known London restaurants, so we weren’t surprised to find the pasta cooked to perfection.
In keeping with the Italian tradition of following pasta with a dish of fish or meat (and sometimes both), we tried the tuna steak with lemon, olive oil and black pepper and the beef fillet – a generous portion – with a rich dark Barolo wine sauce. Both were good dishes, but it should be noted that the tuna was cooked rather than seared.
For dessert, we sampled the tiramisu, and strawberries in balsamic vinegar flambée, the latter is prepared in the kitchen, rather than flamed for dramatic effect at the table. The dessert menu does include several ice creams and sorbets, and we would have found one of those less challenging at the end of a lunch of such generous portions! I noted the inclusion of a pear sorbet with vodka that should be worth trying.
Wines are from the different Italian regions: reds start at 19 € a bottle and, for the connoisseur, there’s a Tignanello; whites range from 19€ to 35 €. The list also features some Spanish wines and, as supporters of the island’s wine producers, abcMallorca was pleased to note the inclusion of a few local wines.
Ristorante Rossini is now also open for lunch on Sundays and, with Palma shops allowed to open on Sundays this December, would make an excellent place to break from Christmas shopping for some satisfying and delicious authentic Italian cuisine.
Signorina Loren famously once said of herself: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” What better motivation could there be to indulge in a dish of Rossini’s perfect pasta and scrumptious sauce?