Liòn restaurant with teal, turquoise and red furnishing, columns and brass circles
(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)

Despite the tourist hordes that descend year-round on Rome, the city is remarkably resilient in keeping its secrets, especially its gastronomic hideouts which we’ve come to realise tend to be hidden in plain sight.

Case in point is the dramatically ornate Liòn. Housed on the ground floor of a 1930s pile a few streets down from the snap-happy Instagrammers in Piazza Navona, the restaurant barely announces itself to passing traffic, this despite the handsome façade and broad windows bordered in thick travertine.

Inside a historic, Rationalist building once occupied by a tourist restaurant, the architect and designer Daniela Colli has transformed the mood by weaving an intense tapestry of textures and colours. Arched friezes frame lacquered ottomans; columns are studded with mosaic tiles; circles of brass are repeated as wall screens, bar fixtures and ceiling medallions; the furniture palette fairly pops in hues of teal, turquoise and red; and the floor is paved in a dizzying harlequin of two-toned square tiles.

By comparison, chef Luca Ludovici’s classical Italian menu is a model of almost staid restraint, the number of ingredients in each dish confined where possible to three materia prima – for instance, organic rice with red prawns, bourbon bisque and tarragon, and a Fassona beef tartare hit with a turmeric mayonnaise.

Liòn restaurant with teal banquette seating, red chairs and circles of brass as wall screens

(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)

Liòn restaurant with column studded with mosaic tiles and two toned square floor tiles

(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)

Liòn restaurant bar with teal and brass stools and circles of brass bar fixtures

(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)

Liòn restaurant with teal banquette seating, red chairs and circles of brass as wall screens and ceiling medallions

(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)

Liòn restaurant cocktail unit

(Image credit: Matteo Piazza)


Largo della Sapienza 1


Daven Wu is the Singapore Editor at Wallpaper*. A former corporate lawyer, he has been covering Singapore and the neighbouring South-East Asian region since 1999, writing extensively about architecture, design, and travel for both the magazine and website. He is also the City Editor for the Phaidon Wallpaper* City Guide to Singapore.