I have in front of me a book.
Antico Forno Roscioli
A Roman Gastronomical Experience.
The forward is written by Massimo Bottura, a chap who knows a thing or two about food. His restaurant near Bologna (reviewed in an earlier edition of TML) has been voted, more than once, Best in the World.
He praises the Roscioli family, from their bread baking beginnings to their current celebrity. “All my chef friends, from all corners of the world, can’t help but go back there when they pass though Rome.”
He signs off with …
Roscioli is in Rome. The Rosciolis are Rome.
After we had enjoyed one of the most memorable lunches of our deliberately not-very-upmarket trip, we had to decide was our experience at Salumeria Roscioli peasant-y enough or had we strayed into fine dining?
Later on, taking a good look at the photos and reading the full family story with their startlingly simple recipes we reassured ourselves.
Not flash just damn fine.
The delicatessen with kitchen
A fair way from the maddening (sic) crowds in a typically small cobbled street we spot the van first. Roscioli it says in crazyhappy type. Salumeria con cucina. Can our place be far away?
Through the glass door, we are right on time for our 2.30 to 4.30 booking.
Floor to ceiling on the left, some items hanging, some glass-case resting, is a cornucopia of deli delights. We thread our way carefully along its length. Some folks lapping it up at the counter. Shown down the stairs to a wine cellar with tables for maybe twenty. Squeezy but amazingly quiet. Has the rest of the world considered shelves of bottles as soundproofing?
We’re not here to count bottles
Time to tuck in. Our waiter is great. A young man, I will say both handsome and charming. More than enough English to help us with nuances and suggestions.
He gives us a bread basket that’s worth a pic in itself.
Having already taken many glasses of adequately refreshing bubbles throughout the Eternal City, it’s a pleasure to have a glass of seriously good Prosecco.
He adds a small plate of piquant nibbles for us.
We start with Burrata a generous pouch bursting with softness topped with golden eggs. Sumptuous indeed. Richly creamy but salty tingling flavours hold it tight. Our eggs are Balik pearls of Swiss salmon. We could have chosen an alternate topping of perle tartufo nero ‘eggs’ made from black truffles.
Add a glass of Soave and a glass of Pecorino – a citrussy lifted white which we had only just discovered in Le Marche.
Followed by possibly the world’s best Carbonara. We will try their recipe back home knowing we will fall short but the memory will linger. Creamy richness but again delivered simply and superbly balanced. Both white wines jog alongside nicely.
Raviolo di Coda Oxtail ravioli.
I am almost always disappointed by ravioli but I keep coming back to modest fillings, vegetables, soft meats with not much more flavour that the pasta and sauce provide.
Here is what I’ve wanted all along. How hard can it be people?
Rich salty gutsy dark meat in thin fine curvy envelopes. For it to swim and sing in, a creamy sauce with a savoury dribble swirl, worth bottling and selling by itself.
I have called for a glass of fairly expensive Brunello di Montalcino Casanova de Neri to do it justice.
La Dolci Vita
We decide not to explore the sweet offerings but zoom in to share their familiar standout: Il Nostro Tiramisu. It comes in an enameled ramekin so we can’t see the layers but two spoons dive in to uncover them. Not so obvious the coffee-soaked biscotti we later read in their recipe but it is a truly heavenly melange of marscapone, eggs, coffee and cocoa. The spoons duel to the last satisfied scraping.
We are obviously enjoying ourselves and our waiter comes up with a glass of golden apricotty sweet wine from Sicily. El Aziz Vendemmia Tardiva Fina. Grazie.
A little after 4.30 we are back on the hot streets of Rome. Not far to walk home. We have to be careful not to rinse away too soon these mouthfuls of memorable food.
At our local bar we upgrade and ask for their very best prosecco.
Read all about this quintessential Roman experience here