Roman cuisine is a traditional and sometimes heavy cuisine. The traditional Jewish cuisine in the ghetto gives it a Central European print. The typical names of the food are not easy to translate and unfortunately you will often find misleading translations. In this little guide I explain the most important dishes.
Roman cuisine · Menu
A typical Roman dinner or a festive lunch usually consists in two or three initial courses, the main course and the dessert.
For appetizers, start with the antipasti. There are mostly cold cuts and cheese, deep-fried preparations or anchovies. This is followed by an intermediate course with warm legumes in clay pots, the “Cocci”, and then a pasta dish.
The main dish in Roman cuisine is either a meat dish, also offal, or cod. There are vegetables or salad as a side dish.
For dessert there are creams or pastries. Fruit or ice cream do not necessarily belong to the Roman cuisine, but are often on the menu nowadays.
Roman cuisine · Antipasti
Tagliere: The classic Roman antipasti includes cold meats with sausages, ham and cheese – salumi, prosciutto e formaggio. Ricotta alla Romana – sheep’s milk ricotta or buffalo mozzarella is also often found. There are also often la Bruschetta – grilled slices of bread with olive oil and garlic or with tomatoes.
Fritti: The deep-fried starters are very popular. Belong to the Fritti
- The Supplì : breaded fried rice rolls filled with ragù and mozzarella. Supplì is also available in other flavors, such as Cacio e pepe, Amatriciana and so on. The Sicilian kind are the Arancini, with a slightly different shape and other fillings.
- Fiori di Zucca : zucchini flowers stuffed with dough and stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies
- Carciofi alla Giudia: fried artichokes are a ghetto specialty
- Verdure fritte: various types of vegetables fried in dough, such as zucchini, carrots or asparagus.
- Olive Ascolane: breaded olives with meat filling
- Alici fritti: fried anchovies
- Filetti di baccalà: One of the staple foods of Roman cuisine is the Baccalà, cod. Deep-fried, it is eaten as an antipasto or as a main course.
- Mozzarella fritta, ovoline: mozzarella deep-fried in batter
- Crocchette di patate: potato croquettes
- Pizza fritta: deep fried pizza
Sottoli : The antipasti also includes dishes pickled in oil. The most well-known are
- Carciofi alla Romana: Artichokes in oil
- Alici marinati: marinated anchovies. They are often served with butter.
- Pickled olives
Legumes: They are often served warm in clay bowls –
- Fagioli: different types of beans, either with onions and olive oil or warm in tomato sauce with Guanciale – pork cheek, pancetta – pork belly or costine – ribs
- Lenticchie: lentils
- Ceci: chickpeas
The Roman cuisine · Pasta dishes
The basic recipe of Roman noodle cuisine is Cacio e pepe – pecorino (ewe’s milk cheese) and pepper.
The trick is to dissolve the Pecorino – the ewe’s milk cheese – so that it does not flocculate and stick together. The result is pasta in cheese sauce. Then pepper is rubbed over it and again Pecorino.
Adding to the Cacio e pepe Guanciale – pork cheek – it becomes the Gricia.
Gricia with tomato sauce is the Amatriciana. Gricia with egg sauce is the carbonara. In Rome, no cream belongs to the carbonara. The trick is to stir the egg sauce into the pasta at the right temperature. If the noodles are too hot, it becomes scrambled eggs, if they are too cold, the sauce remains too liquid.
Another Roman specialty is the Pajata. Pajata is the intestine from the milk lamb or milk calf in tomato sauce. Pajata is only available in the cold season.
Roman cuisine · Main dishes
The main dishes of Roman cuisine are sometimes a bit particular. Typical are
- Coda alla vaccinara: oxtail in tomato sauce. The meat is very tender, but you have to be careful to avoid tomato flecks.
- Trippa: tripe white or in tomato sauce
- Coratella: offal of lamb, chicken or rabbit
- Animelle: Sweetbreads, mostly of lamb
- Filetti di baccalà: Cod, fried or grilled
- Saltimbocca alla Romana: Veal escalope with ham and sage
The most common side dishes are
- Cicoria: chicory waved in the Pan, very bitter
- Spinaci: spinach waved in the Pan
- Patate al forno: baked potatoes
- In the winter the typical Roman Puntarelle – raw chicory salad with anchovies and garlic
Roman cuisine · Desserts
The Roman cuisine knows no special desserts. In the Carnival, there are special pastries, for example the Bignet di San Giuseppe with cream filling, deep-fried or out of the oven, or that Frappe, fried dough flakes with lots of sugar. In addition, you can find Tiramisù, Panna cotta, Crema Catalana or Creme Caramel in Rome. Often one finds also cake, particularly the Torta della nonna, a pastry with a cream filling and pine nuts or a Crostata, a shortcrust pastry base with jam filling.
Roman cuisine · Drinks
A good wine is part of the Roman cuisine. Many restaurants offer a well-kept house wine served in Carafes. You can order a quarter, half a litre or 1 litre of white wine or red wine.
Many Romans also drink beer. In many restaurants you get beer from the barrel. The small beer – la birra piccola – usually has 0.2 l, the big beer – la birra media – usually has 0.4 l. In many restaurants there is also beer in carafes of 2 l.