I remember the first time I discovered Il Santo Bevitore. Stopping outside a large glass window on via di Santo Spirito, I peered into a restaurant full of diners looking at ease beneath the elegant arched ceiling of the dining room. Low lighting with lots of candles, there was serenity and warmth to the room. This drew me to the menu displayed on a plinth by the restaurant entrance and my senses were intrigued: I must dine here. And I have many times since.

Il Santo Bevitore is one of those restaurants you keep returning to if you enjoy seasonal Italian produce with a twist on tradition. Opened in 2002 by siblings Marco and Martina Baldesi and friend Stefano Sebastiani, their aim was for quality food at smart prices and it doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant name translates to “the holy drinker” and the décor is a testament to this, with bottles from the 100 different wines on offer displayed around the dining room. You can have fun pairing the perfect wine to the delicious meats and cheeses on offer, all sourced from small artisan producers across Italy, or to your main dishes inspired by Italy but with a modern flair.

The dining room sits in an old coach house which today shows no sign of its past, simple yet elegant with white walls, dark wood tables, unpatterned china and clear glassware that creates the kind of ambience to suit a romantic dinner for two or a group ready for a foodie night out. Years after opening in 2002, Il Santo Bevitore remains a hub of activity every night of the week with head chef Luca Marin creating dishes that change as regularly as the seasonal produce they source.

Vegetables bought from local greengrocers, however, the combinations are not the traditional Italian norm: confit duck thigh with turnip blossoms and orange or soup of Cauliflower foam with fried quinoa, capers, and coffee. With a range of seafood, handmade pasta, and vegetarian dishes, Il Santo Bevitore is an exciting place for passionate eaters. 

In 2008 the team opened their bar equivalent, Il Santino, a few doors down the cobbled street, a small wine and gastronomic bar established within the old wine cellar of the restaurant. So be it a substantial meal or just a quality glass of wine, the Santo team can offer the perfect solution.

Photo credit: Sofie Delauw