Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Rome, Roscioli Restaurant

At first, I thought I was going to really dislike Rome (or Roma, as they say in the native language, American).

We touched down on a steamy day and headed through the traffic-choked streets to our hotel near Termini, Rome's main train station. Stepping outside for our first meal (lunch) we were greeted with a vista of tourist traps. We walked for around thirty minutes, trying to find something that looked semi decent. It wasn't happening. Eventually we stumbled into a small bar and got some simple but tasty panini. But if every meal was going to be that hard and every road filled with confused English women then I didn't think I was going to like Rome much.

Later that night, my faith in Rome (Catholic; I like to adapt) was restored with a home cooked meal from a real live Roman. Carbonara, which was so simple and delicious compared to the cream-laden version that we see most often in Sydney, with lightly fried chunks of pancetta from the cheek offering an explosion of flavourful fat with every bite and a crisp, dry white wine from Abbruzzo washing everything down nicely. It was followed with a huge selection of salumi and ham, cheeses and fruit. Our host spoke so passionately about the food, often bringing up a topic like chocolate, only to disappear into the kitchen with something new to try. Or a handful of kittens. That was rather unexpected.

After a morning spent walking around Rome (dear Rome: enough with all of the things to see, okay) we were pretty hungry. We headed through the Campo di Fiori--a market packet with fresh food, meat, cheese, truffles and other produce--and towards a place I'd heard about: Roscioli.

From what I understand, Roscioli is a deli selling a huge selection of awesome things (meat, cheese, vinegar) which is related to a nearby bakery. At the back of the deli is a restaurant that serves up all of this goodness.

Things of goodness: Salumi, prosciutto, cheese, bread, wine.

If you like said things of goodness then Roscioli is for you.

We got a selection of Italian cheeses (piave de alpeggio, parmigiano reggiano, two types of stravecchio), a selection of black pork prosciutto and a selection of lardo. To wash it down, a crisp sparkling white. Plus some bread from the bakery.

Now, a word of warning. That's a lot of fat.

Ignore the warnings and enjoy. All I can really say is the bread was delicious, the cheese fantastic, the lardo addictive and the black pork prosciutto is now my wife (sorry to disappoint you, ladies). How can something be so good? You bite it, and the cured fat of the prosciutto bursts in the mouth. It's like it's been fried BUT IT HASN'T IT JUST EXPLODES.

Not cheap, not expensive, very good. Although I fear that I may never be able to eat normal prosciutto in Australia again.

Tonight, it's off to il Convivio to get the first Michelin star out of the way.


g said...

Loosely on the topic of cheese, apparently there's some place in the factory streets of Marrickville where they make ricotta out of just milk. Fi's friend told us about it. Story has it that on a saturday morning all the Greek nonnas from the area line up with their buckets to buy the stuff. Apparently it's super cheap too. Gonna try it possibly this weekend. I'll report back.

Jobe said...

Awesome! Remember: it's not a bother when you gotta lotta ricotta.

On a related subject, we just got into Bordeaux and there is an INCREDIBLE looking cheese shop about 3 doors away from the hotel. It's going to take a LOT of will power not to overdo it (I have both dinners already locked in).