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Rome Trip Report (this July)


faine
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Hello all! I just got back from a two month long trip to Europe - Italy, Switzerland, and Spain. I'm compiling everything I ate over at my travel blog Faine Devours Europe, but I thought I'd put some stuff pertaining directly to Rome here. Much thanks to Egullet: quite a few of these places I selected due to recommendations from the community here. On the whole, we had some exceptionally delicious (if expensive) dining experiences in the Eternal City. I'm looking forward to returning again. Except not in July. It's a tiny bit hot.

Might have to stagger these a bit since there's a lot of material...

Ristorante l'Angoletto

Piazza Rondanini 51 Roma

06.6868019

For dinner, we visited a restaurant that came highly recommended on the online world's foodie communities. Not one to distrust the Hive Mind, we made a reservation and paid a visit. Tucked away in the warren of allies and restaurants behind the Pantheon, l'Angoletto is a subtley classy place with a focus on seafood and extremely fresh pastas. Complete with a charming al-fresco garden and a quiet and attractive location, it's an excellent choice for high-end dining in the Pantheon area. Observe.

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For my starter, I chose the seafood saute. A seafood saute in Rome, as I've learned, generally means something more along the lines of shellfish in some sort of broth - exactly what this was. Fresh mussels and clams floated in a light white-wine and garlic broth - simple, fresh, and good. The broth was a bit salty to drink straight.

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My dad went with the penne in arrabiata sauce, a classic spicy Italian preparation. The al dente penne were perked up considerably by the fresh and spicy tomato sauce.

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My mom selected a pasta dish with cherry tomato and octopus - really nice, with a slightly aquatic flavor and a tangy, decadent texture. Liked this a lot. L'Angoletto is known for their octopus preparations - apparently we should have ordered the fried baby octopus, but no one was quite able to bite the bullet. They are really so very adorable, you see.

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For my main course, I selected fish ravioli in cream sauce. It's a standard dish and one I've enjoyed many times with lobster, but this version was a true game changer. Super-smooth and delightfully flavored filling was enveloped by fresh and light as air pasta - the rich but not-obscene cream sauce was the perfect counterpoint. Dearly wanted to pick this up and lick the plate but that might have been a tiny bit gauche.

My mom chose the veal saltimbocca, another Roman classic, executed admirably here. Tender medallions of veal with prosciutto and sage in a light olive oil sauce - simple, classic, good. No photo as it came out unspeakably badly, which is a shame for what is generally one of the more attractive Italian dishes. (Unlike, say, eggplant parm. Delicious, yes. Sexy? No.)

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My dad chose a veal steak - veal being curiously well priced here compared to the USA, and delicious to boot. Tender and tasty and cooked to perfection over what seemed to be charcoal. Nicely done.

We passed on dessert at the restaurant and headed to the nearby Gelato San Crispino, which is widely considered to be the finest ice cream provider in town. Can't offer anything near an informed opinion on that, but I found the stuff excellent. I chose ginger and cinnamon and strawberry, and found both flavors delightful. The ginger and cinnamon was unique, warming, and extremely interesting on the palate - you've got to try it. The strawberry was ultra fresh and conveyed the essential nature of <em>strawberriness</em> which is about all once can ask for. Pay these guys a visit.

Edited by faine (log)
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Otello alla Concordia

Via Della Croce, 81

00187 Roma (RM), Italy

+39 06 6791178

A laid-back place with its own courtyard and an indisputably old school Italian feel, Otello alla Concordia is a decent choice near the steps. I've heard varying opinions on this little trattoria, but we found it quite acceptable - the food is not spectacular, but is simple, rustically executed, and a good feed when you'd rather not drop a mortgage on haute cuisine. There's also some pleasant al fresco dining offered, perfect for hot summer nights.

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A simple caprese salad. Good tomatoes here, which have been surprisingly hard to find in Italy. Mozz was also on target, though, though I have been ruined on the stuff due to Umbria. (Went to visit a buffalo mozzarella producer, may never be the same again. )

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I braved the antipasto plate, which many restaurants in tourist areas unfortunately butcher to a degree that should be illegalized. A pretty good selection of meats were present here - the usual suspects of salami and prosciutto. The butter, believe it or not, is a traditional accompaniment to prosciutto. I don't get it, but whatever makes them dern Italians happy.

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I went for a classic: chicken cacciatore. This was quite flavorful, if a bit oily. A homey dish, it reminded me very much of what I make at home from Marcella Hazan's invaluable book. The meat was tender and nicely braised.

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Another Roman standby: a half chicken cooked under a brick with the addition of a bit of lemon. This was juicy and didn't fall into the trap of dryness, with a good char on top. Speaking of Roman trattoria food, I couldn't find any chicken alla diavola on Roman menus - did I experience a run of bad luck? Where does one go for that?

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My mom had a seafood risotto. A nice saffron and musselesque flavor, combined with slightly chewy and al dente rice (way I like it) and plenty of aquatic friends to messily devour. This dish definitely needed to be warmer.

Ala Toscano

Via Germanico, 58

00192 Roma (RM), Italy

+39 06 97615872

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A Tuscan centered restaurant, this Vatican-local eatery focuses on good meat and lots of it, which is apparently just how the Tuscans prefer it. (Funny, that's how most Americans do too, minus the "good" part.) While walking to the bathroom immediately upon being seated, I found myself to my heart's profound delight in a veritable gallery of cut, aged, and hanging dead animals. a butcher in a bloody apron presiding over it all within full view of the interior diners. The sight made my heart pitter-pat with anticipation. Europeans are much more realistic about the consumption of meat then we are here in the USA, are okay with window tableaus of hanging and flailed rabbits and lambs, do not become distressed when confronted with hocks or other unpleasant details. It's healthier that way.

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A simple starter of prosciutto (thicker cut then what I'm used to, but good) and some mysterious and tasty green plump figs. The figs were, of course, expensive. I love Rome but it is so expensive that it mystifies me that anyone can afford to live there. You'd think it would have driven all those *other* tourists away but we had no such luck.

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A prehistoric-type veal chop. Veal is cheaper then beef in Italy, which perennially amazed us, used to dropping some coin on our special-occasion osso bucco. This beast was delicious, tender, and ever-so slightly primal (was that a wrong feeling, so close to the Vatican?).

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My dad, for his part, ordered a simple charbroiled steak. Steaks in Italy are usually thin, rare, and packed with flavor, and the charbroiling method truly does justice to our noble and dearly-departed beefy friends. This was delicious down to the beef-fat. Good Italian restaurants can truly do justice to a side of cow.

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I ordered beef with porcini mushrooms, a sort of Tuscan stir-fry with rosemary, fresh and meaty porcinis, and cuts of thin and juicy steak. I really enjoyed this - rich as hell, and the whole shebang would have been delicious on some sort of chewy bread in the guise of a sandwich. Fresh porcinis are a delightful thing in Italy, vastly better then the reconstituted ones we must generally make do with state-side.

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As a side dish I had some very nice broccoli rabe, or at least that's what they told me. (It looked a hell of a lot like good ol' spinach to me - can anyone clarify?) Whatever it was, it was a slightly bitter leafy thing, one of my favorite delicacies when cooked in a little olive oil and garlic. I could happily eat this all day. I might die of some sort of yet-unkown overdose of health nutrients, but I'd do it.

Edited by faine (log)
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Enoteca Antica

Via della Croce, 76

00187 Roma (Latium), Italy

+39 066 790896

For lunch, I decided to return to a place I'd been with my Tulane University group, after our visit to the FAO's headquarters. One of my classmates had sniffed it out earlier and dragged us there for prosecco and snacks, which we ended up enjoying immensely. Enoteca Antica is a very pleasant wine bar and eatery on Via della Croce, close to the Spanish Steps and in an extremely atmospheric cobblestone alley. In this alley, you will hear accordians, be solicted to purchase crap pizza, and witness Italian women with dynamite boob jobs - these are all unmissable cultural experiences. The restaurant itself is pleasant both inside and out, and the slightly hip, if homey interior is a good place to cool off from a smack-yo-mama hot Rome afternoon.

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We had these gorgeous antipasto plates during my first visit. If you ask nice, they''ll mix you up a different combo of taste treats for your second plate.

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I had a salad with the usual excellent European tuna fish, mozarella, egg, potato, and tomato. I do not know why potato is considered a bizarre and nightmarish thing to put on a salad in the USA, unless it is a warm potato salad, but that is the nature of human existence.

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My dad had the eggplant parmesan, which was a nice specimen of an oft abused race: good marinara sauce, roasted instead of deep fried, a reasonable quantity of cheese. Eggplant parmesan may be safely ordered in most places in Rome, if you're a bit smart about where you're eating.

Edited by faine (log)
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Ristorante Clemente

# Piazza della Maddalena 4

Rome, Italy

(06) 683-3633

Clemente is one of the vast portofolio of charming bistros near the Pantheon, and was reccomended to us by our concierge during my parent's first night in town. We were given somewhat vague directions, and ended up walking up and down seemingly all the alleys that crisscross the area around the Pantheon, asking various people directions in extremely poor Italian mixed with smatterings of Spanish. We finally did find our quarry, in a nice plaza with a healthy quantity of fountains, and sat down for dinner. Clemente bills itself as a specialist in riffs on modern cuisine, created by its female head chef. The menu reflects this, featuring riffs on standard Italian classics, with a particular emphasis on fresh seafood. We thought it was pretty good, although we would soon encounter better.

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We began with a salad of squid, octopus, mixed greens, and grapefruit, which was quite nice. The squid was cooked perfectly and did not turn into vaguely seafood flavored rubber as it is wont to do. I also enjoyed the acidic turn of the grapefruit. It could have been a prettier presentation, considering the inherent attractiveness of the ingredients.

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For my entree, I selected the grilled tuna with tomatoes, caper, and vinegar - a very simple dish. This was well executed, though I had been expecting something perhaps a little flashier. It was simple, light, and not over-done.

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My dad had a pasta dish with octopus and tomato, and no, I am not prepared at this time to correctly ID exactly what kind of pasta it was, though if someone could tell me, well, that would be dandy as well. The pasta was nicely al-dente, and the sauce had a good marine flavor, with tender bits of invertebrate mixed in. The Italians don't love octopus quite as much as the people of Northern Spain, but they certainly make a go of it.

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La Fiammetta

Piazza Fiammetta, 10

00186 Roma (RM), Italy

06 6875777

La Fiammetta is a no-nonsense sort of place located near the Piazza Navona, and it is exactly what it looks like: a true-blue Italian pizzeria and trattoria, with a minimum of bullshit and a maximum of flavor. The clientele is mostly Roman, and no tourist menus are provided: you will have to bring your phrase books if you skipped your Italian lessons. You'll be glad you did. La Fiammetta's earthy and classic cooking is a real taste of Rome, in a pleasant al-fresco environment. Perhaps best of all for those of us wedded to the dollar: it is incredibly inexpensive.

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An avowed antipasto nut, I went for the antipasto platter for my starter. This was good and classic, featuring lots of good grilled vegetable taste with a splash of good olive oil and plenty of herbs. This was, I think, a nice benchmark for what antipasto <em>should</em> be, at least when those wonderful buffets are not in evidence.

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My mom went with the penne carbonara. This was perfect and rustic. Rich as hell, slightly eggy, and full of crunchy and fatty pancetta. This version was actually identical to what our chef in Bolsena made for us, and that was incredibly delicious as well. It's Italian soul food.

By the by - I've read in a few places that carbonara was invented on the request of American soldiers in WWII, who were missing their bacon and eggs and asked they be combined into a pasta dish. Is this true?

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La Fiammetta is renowned for its eggplant Parmesan, and this lived up to the billing. Rich but not greasy, cheesy and tangy, reminded me of why eggplant Parmesan is worth eating. May have to try making it myself, even.

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I speak no Italian, the waiter spoke no English, and despite what they tell you, speaking Spanish really doesn't get you very far with Italian menus. Thus I mistakenly ordered a simple steak of swordfish, although I would have preferred something a little more Roman and typical of the area. However, I shouldn't malign this: it was an excellently prepared swordfish steak with a good charcoal flavor and a little hint of lemon and olive oil.

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My dad was brave and ordered the Vitello Tonnato, Italy's most famous (and most curious) cold entree. Vitello Tonnato is a curious composite beast, composed of chilled veal slices and a rich sauce made of tuna, egg, anchovy, capers, and lemon, among other ingredients. The flavor is bizarre if you've never had it before, at least initially, but if you love tuna salad you'll warm up to this real quick. I found myself wanting to steal it from my dad by meal's end. I wish this showed up on menus more in the states. I made a similar sort of dish to this out of Food and Wine, before I visited Italy, by the by. It involved panko-crusted seared tuna and a very similar tuna-caper-anchovy sauce, and it was pretty good. I think I may have to revisit it.

Edited by faine (log)
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This is a great report. Almost makes me willing to give Otello another try. No it is not true about carbonara and the GIs. Vitello tonnato, aka vitel tonné is rare on menus in Rome these days, probably too much trouble, but I love it in summer. In Piedmont it is served as an antipasto in a much daintier version, with thin slices of rosy veal and delicate gobs of tuna sauce placed on top. The pasta with the octopus looks like linguine, but I can't really see well enough to say if it's anything more exotic. Your mom's penne alla carbonara are not penne but rigatoni. I give the Antica Enoteca a wide berth these days. It used to be total charm, but the food seems like an assembly from jars and packages (it has been a while and perhaps I am unjust), and the loud music is intolerable, or was last time I checked. Pollo alla diavola has pretty much disappeared, and it's a pity. It's an old-time trattoria standby.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Thanks for the replies! I especially appreciate the edification, Maureen.

I didn't tackle any foods at Antica that were particularly complex, so that may very well be the case...the antipasto was, at least, good. I did find that it's a bitch to find good restaurants in Rome "off the top of your head" - the tourist trade has so expertly molded the city that the crap very much outweighs the sublime. Even though I consulted various foodie outlets online, there were still a lot of points of contention. I think we did pretty well all things considered, however.

I was originally in Italy to participate in and help conduct a Tulane university course on food, globalization, and gender. (I'm a rising Tulane senior). I taught the new media component and helped the students document the course and produce a food blog. You can check it out over here: NCCROW Italy 2009

It was a hell of a course - we stayed at my professor's renovated convent in Bolsena (near Orvieto) and ate at restaurants and checked out food producers all over Umbria. We also paid a visit to Slow Food headquarters in Bra, prosciutto producers in Langhirano, and Parmesan cheese producers in, where else, Parma. We then returned to Rome to visit the FAO food agency, which was rather interesting.

I headed to Spain after this part of the trip. Still working on putting together THAT trip report. We hit up Etxebarri which was certainly a highlight of my culinary life to date.

Two more posts to come. Realized I didn't put up Colline-Emiliane yet. Whoops!

Edited by faine (log)
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Colline Emiliane

Via degli Avignonesi, 22

00187 Roma (Latium), Italy

+39 06 4817538

For dinner, we had reservations at Colline Emiliane, an extremely well reviewed little joint vaguely near the Trevi Fountain. The restaurant specializes in home-made pasta from Emiliana-Romagnola, and hews carefully to the traditions of the region. A tiny and no-frills place, it seems to be beloved by locals, filling up with happy eaters by 8:30 or thereabouts. Make reservations later rather then earlier to avoid looking like a total tool to the locals. The menu has an excellent assortment of pasta selections (not to be missed,) plenty of veal, and some excellent examples of Colline-Emiliane's cured meats - don't miss the culatello di Zubello.

CEpenne.jpg

My dad had the penne pasta with porcini mushrooms and tomato sauce. These were very nice: the earthy and delightfully complex flavor of the mushrooms melded well with the tangy and fresh tomato sauce. The pasta were, as expected, perfectly al dente and fresh.

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A classic veal bolognese for my mother. My mom is a bolognese snob, and she makes an excellent version: she uses Marcella Hazan's recipe and it has never failed us. This was excellent, with fresh pasta and complex flavors. Even better for my mother's ego - it tasted just like what we make at home.

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I had one of my all-time favorites: pumpkin ravioli in brown butter and sage sauce. These were really excellent, just what I'd been looking for in a dish I rarely have - the perfectly smooth and buttery filling was juxtaposed perfectly with the slightly chewy pasta. The butter sauce was also subtle and gently sage-infused: the combination was perfectly sweet and savory. I would very much recommend this.

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I had veal with porcini mushrooms and tomato. I loved this: it's a dish I like to make myself, and the combination of tomato, tender meat, and funkily delightful porcinis is one of my favorites.

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My dad had the roast veal, with what appears to be a little bit of sage and plenty of olive oil. This was tender, flavorful, and good, although I suspect he wished it had come bone-on. Who wouldn't?

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A fried veal chop stuffed with spinach and cheese - hard to beat. This was quite tender and had a good, rich flavor. It's a good example of how hearty and earthy Italian cuisine can get. The Germans do not have the market cornered on fried veal cutlets.

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Here's some food-related odds and ends around and about Rome.

My dad and I befriended a meat-vendor in the square of the Pantheon, whose butcher shop contained an impressive array of porky and beefy delights. We returned to pick up some salami, prosciutto, and cheese, as well as admire the other stuff he had on display. ("I live alone, it is very hot here. There are less tourists these days. I move to San Diego," he told us a few times, a far away look in his eyes. "Best weather in the world.")

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A profusion of olives. I used to not like them. Italy cured me during my first visit, four years ago. Thanks, Italy.

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Hanging hams. Note the handsome pepper-corn encrusted specimen. Ham is considered a totally valid decorative accent in Italy and Spain.

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A selection of cheeses. Cheese is also a valid decorative option.

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This otherwise unexceptional restaurant (the name of which I have forgotten) offered a decent specimen of one of Rome's pleasures, an antipasto buffet. For one price, you can load your plate up with various vegetable and (sometimes) cheese delights, often with multiple trips included. Italy's green and leafy delights often don't get enough attention, overshadowed by lasagna, pasta, and humongo veal chops, and these antipasto platters are a good way to get your five a day in Roma. Spring for it whenever you see one, they're usually pretty dependable.

Errata:

San Crispino gelato is just as excellent as it is reputed to be. The cinammon and ginger flavor was divine, and we also very much liked the intense and all natural taste of the banana. It's a must-stop in the region of the pantheon.

I am madly in love with Roman-style artichokes - marinated in olive oil, mint, and other herbs- but they are distressingly difficult to find and even harder to do well. Keep an eye out for them.

I find it terrible that Fanta Light is not available in the USA. It is by far the best diet beverage I have ever consumed, complete with theoretically-real orange pulp.

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What is it with you and penne? Those are not penne in the picture. Penne are cut diagonally. I forget what they're called, zite maybe. Not fresh, exc in the sense of not stale. Why order them in the one of the only places in Rome that makes divine, genuine tagliatelle? BTW the region is Emilia-Romagna and the culatello is from Zibello. Next time somebody should try the lasagne verdi too.

Now, pumpkin ravioli. You should be advanced enough so you ignore the English menu translations. They are called tortelli di zucca, and, again, come back in the winter. In summer, the owner told us once, they get a squash from Sardinia (source of very good stuff), but in winter they get the traditional, authentic squash from Emilia-Romagna. They offer two varieties of tortelli di zucca, Mantua-style, with amaretti and mostarda (really, they are all ground up but impart a sweetness), and Ferrara-style, which don't. I don't think I've ever seen them served with sage, which is how Romans serve ricotta-filled ravioli, so maybe there's something going on there I don't know about, but what your picture shows are ravioli only in the most generic sense. They are definitely tortelli.

Marinated artichokes are universal, nothing to do with Rome. The fresh artichokes braised with mentuccia (not strictly a mint), no other herbs exc maybe parsley, were difficult to find because they have been out of season for at least three months. Come back in the winter and you'll see them coming and going.

Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Thanks again for the terminology help! I don't know anything about Italian food so trying to figure out what is what. I'm afraid I could not control my dad's preference for zite.

Recall Marcella Hazan saying that fresh pasta is only really applicable for specific pasta styles, and zite isn't one of them. Should have remembered that. Do you know if Colline-Emiliane makes these in house or gets them from a factory?

I do recall seeing a recipe (again from Marcella) for the tortelli with the amaretti cookies. I've had the sage w/brown butter preparation with the squash tortelli elsewhere in Rome. What is the more typical sauce for zucca tortelli?

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Thanks again for the terminology help! IRecall Marcella Hazan saying that fresh pasta is only really applicable for specific pasta styles, and zite isn't one of them.
There's a pretty good pasta primer sitting right now at the top of the other subboard to this forum.
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Thanks again for the terminology help! I don't know anything about Italian food so trying to figure out what is what. I'm afraid I could not control my dad's preference for zite.

Recall Marcella Hazan saying that fresh pasta is only really applicable for specific pasta styles, and zite isn't one of them. Should have remembered that. Do you know if Colline-Emiliane makes these in house or gets them from a factory?

I do recall seeing a recipe (again from Marcella) for the tortelli with the amaretti cookies. I've had the sage w/brown butter preparation with the squash tortelli elsewhere in Rome. What is the more typical sauce for zucca tortelli?

I have no insider knowledge about Colline Emiliane's suppliers, but would bet at least fifty cents that the pasta in your picture was bought. The restaurant's specialty is Emilian pasta sfoglia, the thin sheet of egg pasta, which can be cut into wide lasagne, narrower tagliatelle, or squares for making tortelli. The tubular shapes are not ordinarily made with eggs and are extruded, not rolled and cut. An exception would be the shapes that are made by rolling a piece of sheet pasta into a tube (garganelli are an example of this).

As for the condiment for tortelli di zucca in Rome, there is nothing traditional because until about last week there was practically no place in Rome except Colline Emiliane that served them on a regular basis. In their natural habitat (Emilia-Romagna) they are usually served with melted butter (brown butter is not an Italian concept) and plenty of freshly grated parmigiano. Sage with melted butter is traditional in Rome over traditional Roman ricotta-spinach ravioli, which can also be served with simple tomato sauce. Both red and white versions are served with freshly grated parmigiano. I am guessing that the use of sage on the tortelli di zucca represents a conflation of the two traditions. I will have to find out if sage has actually been used for generations in Emilia-Romagna for this purpose.

Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Why did I think the natural habitat for tortelli di zucca was Mantova (in Lombardia)?

It IS the natural habitat of tortelli di zucca, the kind that contain amaretti and mostarda, but the food of that corner of Lombardia has a lot more in common with Emilia-Romagna than with, say, Milano. I always say the regional divisions are for the convenience of cookbook editors, who have 20 ready-made chapters, and that the gastronomic map would show very different divisions than the political.

The natural habitat of the non-sweet tortelli di zucca is Ferrara, in Emilia-Romagna.

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Why did I think the natural habitat for tortelli di zucca was Mantova (in Lombardia)?

It IS the natural habitat of tortelli di zucca, the kind that contain amaretti and mostarda, but the food of that corner of Lombardia has a lot more in common with Emilia-Romagna than with, say, Milano. I always say the regional divisions are for the convenience of cookbook editors, who have 20 ready-made chapters, and that the gastronomic map would show very different divisions than the political.

The natural habitat of the non-sweet tortelli di zucca is Ferrara, in Emilia-Romagna.

With all due respect to you, I have spent an extensive amount of time, over the last thirty- five years, eating in that little corner of Lombardia and that little corner of Emilia-Romagna. Mantova, not Ferrara is the natural habitat of non sweet tortelli di zucca. All you have to do is see where most of the zucche grow and where most of the mostarda is made.

I agree that food in that corner of Lombardia has more in common IN GENERAL with Ferrara or even Parma. However, and this is very important, once you get south of the Po, even a few kilometers, the change from olive oil to butter is significant and the cuisine changes dramatically. This is the "south of the Po butter rule", except for that very tiny pocket of land south of the Po that is in Lombardia, where olive oil still holds sway. To paraphrase the late Tip O'Neill... "all cooking fat is local." :smile:

Edited by fortedei (log)
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Why did I think the natural habitat for tortelli di zucca was Mantova (in Lombardia)?

It IS the natural habitat of tortelli di zucca, the kind that contain amaretti and mostarda, but the food of that corner of Lombardia has a lot more in common with Emilia-Romagna than with, say, Milano. I always say the regional divisions are for the convenience of cookbook editors, who have 20 ready-made chapters, and that the gastronomic map would show very different divisions than the political.

The natural habitat of the non-sweet tortelli di zucca is Ferrara, in Emilia-Romagna.

With all due respect to you, I have spent an extensive amount of time, over the last thirty- five years, eating in that little corner of Lombardia and that little corner of Emilia-Romagna. Mantova, not Ferrara is the natural habitat of non sweet tortelli di zucca. All you have to do is see where most of the zucche grow and where most of the mostarda is made.

I agree that food in that corner of Lombardia has more in common IN GENERAL with Ferrara or even Parma. However, and this is very important, once you get south of the Po, even a few kilometers, the change from olive oil to butter is significant and the cuisine changes dramatically. This is the "south of the Po butter rule", except for that very tiny pocket of land south of the Po that is in Lombardia, where olive oil still holds sway. To paraphrase the late Tip O'Neill... "all cooking fat is local." :smile:

Your experience of that area greatly exceeds mine, which consists only of infrequent short trips over an even longer span, supplemented by many dinners in Rome at Colline Emiliane, the restaurant responsible for this digression. So I went scurrying to my bible, la Gosetti, to see if I'd been hallucinating. Well, she puts the amaretti/mostarda in Mantova and the no amaretti/mostarda in Emilia-Romagna. And I am sure that Colline Emiliane offers the sweet as mantovani and the plain as ferraresi, and I'm equally sure that I had the sweet ones in Mantova with a glass of sweet wine, suggested by the restaurant. The first tortelli di zucca I ever tasted were in Ferrara and I haven't been the same since. Definitely without amaretti. I think a research trip is in order to get to the bottom of this. :biggrin:

Maureen B. Fant
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Our tastebuds must be different. The zucca is the sweet part of the tortelli di zucca, the amaretti are bittersweet (from the almonds and sugar) and the mostarda is very sharp and spicy from the senape. How does that translate to sweet unless you use commercial amaretti and even then...?

Use only fresh zucca and you get sweet (Emilia-Romagna). Use mostarda and amaretti and you don't get sweet (Lombardia), at least in the restaurants I've gone to.

Sweet wine (by the way, red or white?) with tortelli di zucca? Wow. That sounds like Emilia-Romagna to me. Clearly we don't go to the same places in Lombardia.

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