For our second day in Rome, we had a big-deal dinner planned, so decided to go a little lighter for lunch. After doing some research online, I stumbled upon a weekend brunch offering close to our hotel at Open Colonna, a restaurant inside the Palazzo delle Esposizioni. The palazzo was refurbished into an art exhibition center in 2008, with a beautiful light-filled area tucked away in the back for restaurant use. Antonello Colonna, a dinner-only Michelin 1*, resides on the mezzanine, while Open Colonna opens for lunches and brunches on the main floor.
Brunch is €28 per person, and buffet-style tables are laid out in the center of the room, constantly being replenished. It's certainly not cheap, but this would rate as probably one of the fanciest buffets I have ever seen.
The space is quite simply gorgeous, and I'd say you're paying just as much to hang out here as you are to eat. I'm a total sucker for natural light, and this spacious glass box makes lunch at Zuni feel like a cave. It's an awesome juxtaposition of grand Roman palazzo on the outside and Dwell on the inside. My terrible photography skills do not do this room justice.
The food itself good, if not spectacular. This well-stocked cheese tray and salad bar was perfect for the build-your-own types. The creamy blocks of ricotta were fresh and delicious.
An awesome variety of prepared pasta/grain salads were also available, all of them quite tasty. These were the perfect light brunch fare we were looking for.
Rotating warm selections were quite good, with some hearty meatballs, sausages, potatoes, and grilled veggies. Zucchini frittatas provided eggs for those who need them.
And of course, a dessert table. Our choices on this day were a chocolate torte, a chestnut cake, and some kind of almond-based cake. All were a little on the sweet side for me, but the kids there seemed to love them.
We made our way upstairs to peek at the closed Antonello Colonna, where the serious food happens. In the first photo of this post, the mezzanine sits atop the wooden structure in the back. The main dining area is gorgeous as well, and we've duly noted to check this place out for dinner on a future trip.
Here's a look back down at Open Colonna from atop the mezzanine. As you can see, the place is very spacious, and comes complete with a little hangout/play area in the center for kids to run around in.
It was a very enjoyable brunch overall, and the space is worth visiting for all you design/architecture geeks out there. I love finding beautiful, modern design in the middle of old, historic places.