Crowning the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana’s reincarnation as Palazzo Fendi, Zuma’s opening marks the end to a series of renovations to a building that has seen much activity in recent months. In February, seven private Marco Costanzi-designed suites opened on the second and third floors of the Mussolini-commissioned modernist landmark, with Fendi’s flagship store residing on the ground and first floors. Now Zuma has arrived, with it’s Japanese izakaya-style cuisine — a familiar taste, thanks to it’s nine global counterparts, yet one that is unexplored in the Eternal City, where locals and visitors alike remain loyal to regional tastes.  

Designer Noriyoshi Muramatsu, collaborating with Zuma founder and creator Rainer Becker for the 14th year, has maintained the restaurant’s winning aesthetic of natural resources — wood, bamboo, granite and stone — alongside steel and floor-to-ceiling glass. Muramatsu’s reference to the four elements is subtle but well-executed; bamboo lanterns hang alongside Tohiki ceramic bricks, while a continuous hunk of roughly hewn granite morphs into a robata grill that acts as centrepiece to the main dining room. From here, dishes like spicy yellowtail with sansho pepper, avocado and wasabi mayo, and the ubiquitous, but always welcome, marinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf, are sent out, along with the usual suspects of sushi and tempura.

The convivial mood peaks on the 5th floor Zuma Bar and Lounge, which offers one of Rome’s most impressive vantage points — no mean feat In a city saturated with epic views. From here, nightcaps of cocktails and sake from one of the city’s most extensive selections are washed down with glimpses of the nearby Spanish Steps and the Vatican City. La Dolce Vita doesn’t get sweeter than this.