Browsing by Category: Gastronomic Traditions

The nearly three year old Testaccio Market is new by Roman standards. When it opened in the summer of 2012, fans of the original market were skeptical of the modern space that had moved away from Piazza Testaccio in the heart of the district. The inauguration of an American budget steakhouse and terrible (more…)

pajata

Offal lovers of the world rejoice! Yesterday, the European Union lifted a 14-year ban prohibiting the sale of veal pajata (the intestines of suckling calves) and other internal bovine organs, a prohibition passed in the wake of Mad Cow Disease. Rigatoni co la pajata (veal intestines cooked with tomato sauce and served with rigatoni and Pecorino Romano) and pajata alla piastra (seared intestines) were always available from butchers on the black market and some restaurants served them in violation of the law. But for the past decade and a half, most of the pajata served in Roman trattorias came from lambs rather than the traditional veal.

pajata

Veal and lamb pajata is similar enough; the upper intestines of the suckling animal is tied off and cooked, allowing the mother’s milk to curdle and cook inside the casing. The result is a sort of ricotta-like filling. The absolute best places in town to try this fabulous Roman delicacy (which is in season in the spring when the intestines are small and tender) are Armando Al Pantheon, Cesare al Casaletto, and Flavio al Velavevodetto.

pajata-rome

Regoli Cafe Rome

If I were a traffic cop tasked with raising Rome’s revenue, I would camp out in front of Pasticceria Regoli, a pastry shop in the city’s Esquiline district. For nearly a century, the Regoli family has been baking and serving seasonal sweets and cream-filled pastries, attracting Rome dwellers from all over the city who today flagrantly double park in front of the small storefront on Via dello Statuto. Regoli’s maritozzi (sweet buns filled with whipped cream), bavaresi, crostate (jam tarts) and torte di fragoline (cake with chantilly cream and wild strawberries) are well worth a ticket (though none are written). The block-traffic-with-your-illegal-parking-to-leisurely-buy-pastries ritual is a fact of Roman life that rarely goes punished. In Regoli’s case, the rewards are beautiful sweets made with traditional recipes even older than the shop’s throwback interior design.

The traffic situation intensified recently when Regoli opened a second location, a café, next door. Finally, Rome’s sweet tooths have a place in which to immediately devour these famous and flawless pastries, other than a parked car, that is.

Pizzarium

For centuries, pizza in Naples – indeed, across Italy – was meant to be a cheap fast food. It became such an ubiquitous phenomenon that many pizzerie have managed to skate by on sub-par ingredients, quick doughs and low-quality toppings. Only recently has pizza in Naples and beyond entered a new era. Call it third-wave pizza, a movement that celebrates raw materials, gives supreme attention to fermentation, and restores dignity to the craft. I share the whole story with Australian Gourmet Traveller in their annual Italy issue, on newsstands now, and available online here.

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As far back as the 2nd century B.C.E., Jews have made their home in Rome and represent the oldest Jewish community in the world outside Israel. What we recognize today as Roman Jewish cooking is fruit of universal Jewish dietary guidelines and, perhaps most importantly, the community’s forced isolation into a gated ghetto for 300 years, which resulted in a unique spin on traditional Italian and Jewish cuisine, using what limited ingredients were available. Additionally, the cuisine reflects many outsider influences—result of the Jewish diaspora of the 15th century as direct result of the Spanish Inquisition, and again in the 1960s when thousands of Jews fleeing Libya settled in Rome.