Reuters Alessandro Bianchi
At the top of the newly refurbished Spanish Steps in Rome sits one the Eternal City’s most extraordinary hotels. The Hassler Roma has entertained everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to Grace Kelly and, quite famously, Audrey Hepburn — she used it as a home base while shooting Roman Holiday.As noteworthy as the hotel’s guests have been, the Hassler is likely most famous for its rooftop restaurant, the first ever in a Roman grand hotel. It’s been called “Rome with a View” but for the last ten years it has been home to Imàgo, a Michelin-starred restaurant with food as phenomenal as the views it offers of Rome.
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the restaurant recently underwent a re-design that updated its furnishings and lighting and added an open-style wine cellar. The project was the work of hotel owner and general manager Roberto Wirth and his wife, Astrid Schiller Wirth, a noted interior designer. Together with their executive chef Francesco Apreda and architect Andrea Marini, they treated the renovation with the attention to detail befitting their role as fifth generation hoteliers. The Hassler has always been a family affair.
In the 1860s, Albert Hassler, the son of a Swiss hotel family, came to Italy with his bride. They spent the next fifteen years in Naples and Catania before moving to Rome. In 1885, the Hasslers bought the property at the top of the Spanish Steps. And 8 years later, the Hassler opened. Just as Paris has its Ritz and New York its Plaza, the Hassler quickly became the hotel in Rome. Oscar Wirth, Roberto’s father, came on board to run the hotel in 1915. In 1968, the Hassler and Wirth families went their separate ways and the Wirths kept the Hassler. In 2002, Roberto became its sole owner.
To celebrate Imàgo’s reimagined space, the hotel is pulling out all the stops. They are offering a package called “10 Years of Imàgo”: three nights in a Double Deluxe room with daily breakfast, a sensory massage for two at the hotel’s Amorvero Spa, and the pièce de résistance: a 10-course tasting menu for two. The rate for the package starts at $1,975 based on double occupancy. And if that isn’t enough to have you packing your bags, a look at the chef’s tasting menu should be.
Chef Francesco Apreda was born in Naples. After graduation from culinary school there, at 19 years of age, he came to Rome, where he began working at the Hassler. In just a year, he became chef de partie. A year later, he left for a five-year stint in London where he worked at Michel Roux’s Le Gavroche and where he was reunited with a school friend, Maurizio Morelli, London’s best-known Italian chef. From Morelli, he learned how to create new and exciting flavors, never losing sight of the traditional underpinnings of great Italian cuisine. Roberto Wirth followed his young chef’s career closely, sending him to manage the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo’s Italian restaurant for which Wirth was a consultant. In 2003 Francesco returned to Rome where he was made executive chef at the Hassler at age 29.
For Imàgo’s anniversary tasting menu, Chef Apreda chose ten signature dishes that have evolved over the last decade and are proven favorites of the chef and guests alike. This tasting menu features these dishes, reinvented for today, including foie gras and scones (2105); breaded scallops, shiitake mushrooms and black truffle (2007); octopus, seaweed and roots (2016); Parmesan cappelotti pasta “Double Umami” (2010); risotto with cacio cheese, pepper, and sesame (2012); capellini with garlic, olive oil, chili pepper, and smoked eel (2008); black cod and purple vegetables (2009); tandoori-style duck (2014); Neapolitan sfogliatella “samosa” (2011); and sweet buffalo mozzarella (2013). This remarkable menu is available at 160 euros (or approximately $173) per person. But it certainly sounds like after you’ve tucked into dinner, you might want to just tuck into a gloriously luxurious room downstairs.
The “10 Years of Imàgo” package is available through December 20, 2017. To book, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.