While most of Italy balances its cooking between butter and olive oil,
Rome prefers matured pork fat called strutto. In other ways Rome is
different too: vegetables grown in the surrounding volcanic soil are said
to have a distinct taste, and sheep, suckling lamb, and suckling kid
(slaughtered often when only weeks old) become specialty dishes. Romans
their traditions very seriously. With a common saying, "Bread and water
are fit for a dog," every home and every small restaurant proudly serves
the very best, fully confident that their tradition truly is the best.
With knowing skills the Romans do indeed select the best from north and
south and create from it a distinctively Roman cuisine.
Pizzas are everywhere, but Rome has an elegantly simple one that defies
imitation. Gently warmed from the oven, the pizza alla Roma is stretched
to six feet long before being baked and finished with brushings of olive
oil, chopped garlic, and rosemary or maybe just a blush of fresh chopped
tomatoes graced with olive oil and pepper.
Crostini (toasted bread and cheese) takes on distinctive Roman flavor
because it is made with Roman Provatura, spaghetti all amatriciana is a
spaghetti tossed with a delicate sauce of peeled and seeded tomatoes
caressed with onion and bacon; suppli are cheese croquettes filled with a
mixture of northern rice, meats, and dried mushrooms; and stufatino is a
Roman version of Milan's stufato (beef and tomatoes), but cooked in lard
and garnished with cardoons. Tripe is beloved in many dishes throughout
Italy but Rome's version is cooked with either meat gravy or tomato sauce,
then served with grated cheese touched with minced fresh mint. Carciofi
alla Giudia dates from ancient times and bases its tenderness on the
quality of artichokes grown near Rome.
Roman cuisine also includes batter-fried squash flowers, stuffed zucchini,
tomatoes, peppers and squashes; casseroles of simmered vegetables; fava
beans and white beans served as thick soups or hearty casseroles with
cheese or sausages - and if the fresh tenderness of young vegetables are
not enough, there is the haunting flavor of strutto, the matured pork fat
used in so many dishes and heightened with sage, rosemary, garlic, and
Specialties of Rome include cheesecakes and
filled pastries made from Ricotta; fruit tarts prepared with visciole
(sour cherry jam); tiny cookies shaped like beans (favi dolce), and crisp
fritters. Each of the many villages around Rome produces its own famed
wines and most of the Vine Dei Castelli are white.