This week and next, some friends from Italy are "stopping by" on Food Lover's Odyssey. They'll be sharing a little bit of Christmas Around Italy from their part of the bel paese. Today, a big welcome to Tavole Romane (Roman Tables)! Their reviews of Roman eateries (now in both Italian and English) have been regular features on my weekly roundup Italy on a Plate. Tavole Romane also provides food tours in Rome, and today they are taking us on a virtual stroll through Rome in search of sweets for Christmas, and Hanukkah. Enjoy!
Let’s bring our attention to Christmas, in a “gourmet” way. There are the savory treats: tortellini, cappone, bollito, capitone, and “frittelle” made of fried dough filled with baccalà or vegetables. And still, there are the sweet Christmas treats: panettone, pandoro, struffoli, panforte, torrone...the list could go on forever! For those of you who are into the gastronomic side of Italy, all of this surely reaches immediately to your head and senses. So, let us focus on the “sweet” side of the gastronomic sensation and let us turn it into reality! How? Follow us through a quick Roman “passeggiata” as we walk through 10 special sweet addresses in Rome.
Let us begin with pastries and sweets which have a pure and radical ROMAN IDENTITY.
This category's main ingredients are dried fruits, raisins, honey, spices and chocolate. Various combinations of these ingredients come together to create different pastries: panpepato (a peppered bread based on fruit, almonds, nuts, honey, and peppered chocolate), pangiallo romano (made with dried fruit, nuts, almonds, pine nuts and sweetened by the addition of sultanas to result in a relatively low-sugar content), mostaccioli romani (diamond shaped sweets covered in chocolate and nuts, almonds, fruit and honey) and the classical torrone (soft and white nougat, with honey, almonds and pistachios, and sugar coated).
1) Pasticceria Valzani - An earlier post of ours referred to “Those sweets which set time still...” and that motto does justice to the production of this bakery! Valzani has always been in the same location and has been producing the same high-quality pastries since 1925. They are famous for their preparation of chocolate-based products, such as Sacher Torte, Easter eggs and pralines as well as for their Mont Blanc and their seasonal specialties. At Christmas time of course you can find the traditional products: pangiallo, panpepato, roman mostaccioli and the classical torrone along with variations characterized by different coatings such as pine nuts, pistachios, and chocolate. (Their web site provides for on-line purchase of their products.)
Address: Via del Moro 37 (Trastevere), tel. 06.5803792, closed on Monday and Tuesday morning
2) Pasticceria Regoli - Another pastry shop with a 100-year tradition like Valzani. As you enter the place you can see their claim to have been in this business “since 1916!" Over the years they have consistently been among the top producers of pastries in Rome (according to us at least!). Definitely worth mentioning are the outstanding profiteroles, maritozzo (a dough filled with cream) and “bavarese." For Christmas, of course, pangiallo and roman mostaccioli.
Address: via dello Statuto 60 (Esquilino), tel. 06.4872812, closed on Tuesday.
3) Panella l'Arte del Pane - As old as the previous ones, we have another business started in the twenties, 1922 being the actual start. Panella is like a casket full of baked products. (and not only that!) They also have sweet and savory selections. Over Christmas the shop windows are filled with a variety of torrone and other Christmas delicacies. Watch out not to empty your wallet here!
Address: via Merulana 54 (Esquilino), tel. 06 4872435, open every day.
Sufganiot (photo courtesy of savtadotty - Flickr )
Let us tour now around the JEWISH TRADITION.
True, Christmas is not a Jewish celebration. However, you should not miss a walk through the Ghetto in Rome, where you can find a number of delicious products which come out for the "festival of Lights" hanukkà. Fried sweets in this season: specifically Latkes (sort of potato pancakes in sour cream) and Sufganiot (donut filled with jam or custard and covered in sugar, they bring back to memory the roman "bomba"). And after a quick immersion into the Jewish tradition let us take a look at the addresses. We cannot be positive you shall find latkes e sufganiot in the places we suggest, but these are undoubtedly among the best in Rome when it comes to the Jewish tradition.
4) Boccione - A must in the Ghetto! The place looks exactly like it did in the old times. You can easily find a line at the entrance. After a short wait you will be able to collect your “ricotta and visciole” or “ricotta and cioccolato” tart, or sweets based on dried fruit, honey and “beridda bread." In this season, as well as over the rest of the year, you should rely on the “house suggestions” and you will be happy.
Address: via del Portico d’Ottavia 2 (Jewish Getto), tel. 06 6878637, closed on Saturday. Kosher-certified.
5) Il Mondo di Laura - Here we come across a little of magic: mixing Kosher tradition, the international experience of Laura Raccah, and high-quality ingredients, to get a number of different cookie productions. So, over Christmas time, stop by and fill in a box with nuggets, candy spice, "miss cioccolatissima," "green lady" and many more. The products are available at their direct sale point as well as at resellers (such as Castroni).
Address: via della Reginella 18 b (Ghetto) or via Tiburtina 263 (close to Bologna subway stop), tel. 06.5880966, closed on Saturday and Friday afternoon. Kosher-certified.
And let us finish our tour with tastes coming from the TRADITION OF OTHER ITALIAN REGIONS. How can we not mention the Panettone (we are supporters of the original recipe based on raisin and candied fruit!) from Northern Italy and the sweets coming from the South in a triumph of ricotta and citrus flavors.
6) Antico Forno Roscioli - One more historical address which, over the generations, bakes bread, pizza (widely recognized the famous pizza bianca!) and gastronomy products. At Christmas time there is room for some Northern recipes and you can find an amazing panettone with raisin. For the few who would not know, we point out their delicatessen shop and restaurant close by in via dei Giubbonari.
Address: via dei chiavari 34 (Campo de' Fiori), tel.06 6864045, closed on Sunday.
7) Pasticceria Perle - A brand new address in the suburbs of Rome (Capannelle area). A shop in Rome, after the original one in Velletri, for Fabrizio Donatone and his creations (widely recognized are his pan brioche but also cakes, profiteroles, and mignon - little desserts). For Christmas you can find a panettone prepared with high quality ingredients and yeast. Available in the traditional recipe as well as in chocolate and orange. Our special thanks to Lorenzo “Linguini” who let us discover this shop. Address: via Appia Nuova 1220/b (Capannelle), tel. 06 45421748
8) Forno Farinando - One more Bakery – in the heart of Testaccio – which bakes yeast breads following natural procedures. For Christmas you can find a tasty panettone filled with lots of bitter chocolate chips. Maybe it is not top notch quality but still we feel they well deserve to be mentioned as a reference in this list!
Address: via Luca Della Robbia 30 (Testaccio), tel. 06 5750674, closed on Sunday.
9) Pasticceria Sal de Riso - Slowly slowly we go down south in Italy and our thoughts arrive in Campania! The sweets of Sal de Riso have been, over the years, a seductive synthesis of taste and flavor of the Amalfi Coast, high quality mastery and ingredients! For Christmas panettone baked according to the Milanese classical recipe, but he also adds a number of “deviations” (such as almond coated with candied orange, sultanas and diamond citrus coated in almond glacè, orange flavored cremderì with nut cream in extra virgin DOP olive oil, limoncello in limoncello cream and IGP Amalfi’s lemon peels,...).
Address: via Gallia 12, (San Giovanni), tel. 06 68135738, closed on Sunday.
10) Pasticceria Siciliana Svizzera - And here we come to the southern top! As the name suggests, this place is all-for-Sicily and its products, based on ricotta and candied fruit. So, for Christmas you can find “cassatine” (Sponge Cake covered in royal dough and sugar glaze and filled with sweetened sheep ricotta and candied fruit) and “Buccellati” (a donut filled cookie with dried figs, almond, raisins, lemon peels).
Address: piazza Pio XI 10 (Aurelio-Gregorio VII), tel. 06 6374974, closed on Monday.
We can’t help but close this post with our “Sweet” wishes for the upcoming holidays to our fellow Roman citizens and to all of you who will happen to be in the “Capitale” over these magic days!
*Photos in this post, unless otherwise noted, are by Tavole Romane.