FOOD WINE ROME: Excerpts from the app. Your Daily Delight: E. Volpetti & Co.
FOOD WINE ROME: Excerpts from the app. Your Daily Delight: E. Volpetti & Co. on Via Marmorata in the Testaccio neighborhood
Rome, the best food city in Italy? Maybe.
One thing’s for sure: Rome ranks high among Italy’s great food cities. It is an obscenely rich capital city and has the means to spend on quality, its gastronomic traditions are ancient, and it has some of the most demanding food consumers in Italy. They won’t buy mediocre ingredients or eat mediocre meals for long. Like New York or Paris, Rome is a talent magnet. Many of the best cooks and products from all over the country are here.
Factory farming, discount hyper-markets and processed or fast food have not yet killed off Rome’s vibrant, small family-run traditional food and wine specialists, one-of-a-kind retail food shops, cafes, coffee roasters, ice cream makers, trattorias, hosterias, osterias, pizzerias, restaurants and more—much more. The best of the best feature in this app.
Here’s a sampler from my new FOOD WINE ROME app, a fully functional, GPS-driven app based on the critically acclaimed, award-winning book FOOD WINE ROME, a guidebook and pocket bible to the history and culture of food and wine in Rome today.
Plan your Roman food wine holiday and take a walking tour with David Downie
The Brothers Volpetti in action with truffles at E. Volpetti & Co.
Emilio Volpetti & C. started out in the 1970s in the Prati area across town, as a humble norcineria selling salami and groceries, but soon evolved into the city’s premier gastronomia. It moved to the Testaccio neighborhood in the early 1980s. The elder of two brothers, Emilio Volpetti, pioneered the concept of highest-quality products (prosciutti and formaggi in particular) and attentive personal service in a boutique setting. Younger, outgoing brother Claudio spent years traveling through Italy finding excellent producers of everything from mozzarella to tuna, truffles to capers, hams to cheeses. The shop is hung with guanciali, platters of dried porcini, salamis and peperonicino chili in the style of an old-fashioned Italian grocery, but like other luxury gastronomie is air-conditioned and clad in stone, beautifully appointed and maintained, and sparkling clean. The eye-catching displays are edible works of art. Though compact it has always had a disproportionately large staff, and it’s Volpetti service and the advice provided by the expansive Claudio, Emilio, and his affable son Alessandro, and the highly professional banchisti behind the counter, that draw devoted regulars.
Claudio Volpetti gives a disquisition on exquisite cheese
Other gastronomie may be bigger and more lavish nowadays, but Emilio Volpetti & C. remains a top reference. The corallina salami, sold at Eastertide, is crafted especially for Volpetti by Maletti, in Modena, and is noticeably more tender, sweet, and full of pea-sized chunks of luscious fat than the corallina found elsewhere. The olive oil made by artisanal producer Bruno Battaglini in the Canino district near Lago di Bolsena is full-bodied and outstanding, and, in Rome, difficult to find; Volpetti has it. Ditto the excellent organic orzo (toasted barley) recognized by connoisseurs as a worthy beverage and not merely a coffee substitute. A decade ago, Claudio Volpetti started the craze in Rome for pecorino di fossa, a ewe’s milk cheese from Tuscany produced in March. Volpetti has it made to order by the Caseificio Sociale di Manciano, a top co-op cheesemaker, picks it up in August, and ages it underground in rock grottoes at Venturi di Sogliano al Rubicone until November, when it goes on sale at the shop in Rome. Many other hard cheeses sold here are aged in Volpetti’s cellar in Rome. The mozzarella di bufala is some of the most flavorful anywhere, handmade at Caseificio Terra Felice in Cancello Arnone, in the province of Caserta; it arrives at Volpetti every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning (and sometimes on Tuesdays) and is often sold within minutes. All told, Volpetti displays about 150 cheeses from all over the world, and 150 types of salami and prosciutto. The take-out foods are delicious, especially the ready-to-dress chicory and salads. Baked goods include some of the city’s most crisp yet unctuous pizza bianca, as well as irresistible tarts and pastries. A fine selection of Italian wines (among them, many of the Lazio region’s best) is also sold. Volpetti Più, a cafeteria-style tavola calda, is two shopfronts away, toward the Testaccio market, and serves tasty classic Roman food (supplì stuffed with mozzarella, arancini di farro, artichokes alla romana, etc.…) and many of the delicacies sold in the shop.