Eat like a real Roman
Roman cuisine boasts very ancient origins: the peasant heritage of the Urbe [the early town of Rome] which then developed into the richer and more sophisticated tradition of imperial Rome, in its turn “contaminated” across the centuries by the habits and the folk history of the Roman “common people”.
That’s where the “holy” rituals we will never give up come from: the hearty meals, the amount of time spent sitting at the table chatting joyously, and the ceaseless boisterous toasts.
The Roman cuisine is renowned for its simplicity, based on local genuine ingredients as pecorino romano, vegetables from Agro Pontino [a fertile agricultural area south of Rome] and the savoury guanciale of Latium.
Poor man’s food indeed, but really tasty, rich in cereals, pasta and pulses, insomuch that – among the common folk – the main course of the Christmas Eve meal was pasta, chickpeas and salt cod (a dish you can still find in Roman taverns).
As to meat dishes, since the finest cuts of beef and lamb were for the wealthy and the clergy, common folk were left with the so-called “fifth quarter”, that is all the edible bits of entrails, giving origin to some of the best-known dishes of the Roman tradition: tripe, pajata [intestines of the unweaned calf], kidney, sweetbreads and so on.
A poor man’s cuisine – but you will lick your fingers!
A key role in the Roman culinary tradition has been played by the Jewish culture, well established in Rome since the II century B.C. Over the years it expanded in the so-called Jewish ghetto, right in the Sant’Angelo district, where the contamination between the two food traditions started.
A fusion imbued with copious geographic origins and various culinary habits: the offal of the “fifth quarter”, the yummy coppiette of dried pork meat, the fish broth and the fried stuffed squash blossoms became a part of the typical Roman menu.
The symbol of the Roman Jewish cuisine is however the celebrated Carciofo alla Giudia [deep-fried artichoke – literally ‘artichoke Jewish style’], already mentioned in the XVI century cookbooks. The ancient recipe dictates the use of cimaroli artichokes, grown along the coast of Latium and considered to be the tenderest ones. We plunge them in hot oil and … done!
A non-fried option is the Roman style artichoke: cooked in a pot, seasoned with parsley, mentuccia [a type of wild mint resembling a cross between mint and oregano], garlic, salt and pepper.
You will see artichoke dishes very often on La Gattabuia tables, but exclusively during their blossom season!
“There, where you can eat, may the Lord lead us”
That was the plea of Romans of yore, the true ones.
The ones who used to linger in the osterie – informal, genuine and honest-to-goodness places of sharing.
The osterie, a mirror of XV century papal Rome, can be considered the first public eateries where working class families from the suburra – the suburbs of yesteryear – used to get together to dine and relax over a glass of wine.
In those welcoming rooms, culinary specialities of the folk gastronomic tradition were eaten on long, worn, wooden-plank tables, which, even today, are still the symbol par excellence of the osteria in the collective imagination, together with the darkish folk atmosphere.
Come and try the real Roman cuisine
At Gattabuia we care about the origins, but we don’t disdain a little creativity behind the stove to experiment and enrich some already perfect dishes.
Read our menu and start licking your chops!