SHOWBIZ TRAVELER: ROME
Reviving Rome’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ | Where to eat | Seeking bargains | Where to visit | Rome after dark | A Gelato crawl through Rome
When it comes to nightlife, the Eternal City offers as much variety as an antipasti platter. You can languor casually at a sidewalk wine bar or co-opt a corner of a dance floor and create a stir. Most bars in the city close by 2:00 a.m. and nightclubs generally eject crowds by 4:00. It’s not such a long night when you consider that scenes don’t ignite until almost midnight. Be sure to dress sharp and fashionable, as denizens — and picky bouncers — look down their Roman noses at bermuda shorts, t-shirts and sneakers.
Wine bar: Ah, to tipple in the former courtyard of a 16th-century palazzo in the Pantheon. The august Casa Bleve offers more than 1,000 varieties of vino and a cold antipasti selection that includes involtini, vitello tonnato, carpaccio and fresh creamy mozzarella with porcini mushrooms. Leave the wine selection to one of the smart servers — or the congenial owner, Anacleto Bleve — and just be specific about region, budget and preferences. If you truly endear yourself, you may be invited for a tour of the cellar. (48 Via del Teatro Valle; casableve.it)
Hotel bar: With a vertigo-inducing view of St. Peter’s Basilica and the city, Bar La Terrazza at the posh Hotel Eden near the Spanish Steps beats out its rivals. This rooftop piano bar, with mixologist Lucio Masci at the helm, will remind you of a more formal bygone Rome — no jeans allowed and the wait staff all wear bow ties. Nibble on light Mediterranean snacks, oysters and caviar after requesting some Nino Rota numbers from “La Dolce Vita” and “La Strada.” (Hotel Eden, 49 Via Ludovisi; edenroma.com)
Night club: Some complain about the brutish doormen at La Maison, but Angelenos should be able to pout and preen their way into the chic nightclub. Expect to see models, fashionistas, Italian celebrities and playboys mingling at this bi-level club with purple and red Versace-inspired décor and an all-night sushi bar. Of course, there’s a VIP area — but the best seats in the house are the roomy couches in the back room that become floating islands for flirting revelers. Along with hip-hop, expect to hear some great R&B and old school disco too. (3 Vicolo dei Granari, Largo Argentina; lamaisonroma.it)
Jazz club: AlexanderPlatz, which claims at a downright dewy 28 years to be the oldest jazz club in all of Italy, caters to purists. This dark cavernous joint attracts top names like sax man Stefano Di Battista and the walls are festooned with graffiti from past musicians. For bigger acts, book a table for dinner and snag a seat in the center room, which fronts the small stage. And no chit-chat while someone’s blowing a horn or tickling the ivories. (9 Via Ostia, Vatican; alexanderplatz.it)
Gay scene: Rome finally has its West Hollywood counterpart in Via San Giovanni in Laterano: a street dotted with gay bars and eateries near the Coliseum. Bar Eleven — the newest import from Soho in London — is the most civilized, with areas for every mood. There’s a dance floor in one and a clubby lounge in another, (196 Via San Giovanni). For a more raucous night, head to the beloved, old school L’Alibi nightclub with its international clientele, mostly house music with bold bass lines and rooftop garden. (44 Via di Monte Testaccio; lalibi.it)