Wednesday, April 21, 2010
It seems like months ago that I promised to continue my guide to Monti. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long, but I’ve been on the road, doing a book tour for Italian Rustic and have been playing catch-up since I got back two weeks ago.
While I loved traveling all over the States, I was really (REALLY) happy to get back home. Home to my family, home to our apartment, and home to my neighborhood. There’s nothing like traveling non-stop for three weeks to make you appreciate every little thing about where you live.
Which makes it all the easier to brag about all the great places to shop for food in Monti. While I ate very well when I was in the States, I still missed cooking every day. What follows is the Minchilli guide to grocery shopping in Monti.
Delizie di Calabria
This store comes first, since it’s one of my favorites. You’d think that a store that only sells items from Calabria would get old fast. You’d be wrong. When what is coming up every day includes things like mozzarella, olives and rustic bread, it’s hard not to work those ingredients into at least a few meals a week. The mozzarella is by far the best in the neighborhood, and once you taste it, it’s hard to settle for less. If you can’t decide between the four types of olives on sale, never fear, you can try them all at the little tasting table at the back of the store. In the fall and winter there are baskets of fresh porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, and the rest of the year the store is heady with the perfume of dried porcini. My sister Jodi asks me to bring her the pungent origano, and my friend Alice Feiring puts in an order for bitter orange marmalade. Via dei Serpenti 20a
A newcomer to the neighborhood, Mia Market is fast becoming my favorite place to shop. Besides being one of the cutest shops I’ve ever seen, the 100% organic produce seals the deal. I actually like the fact that she only has a half a dozen fruits or vegetables each day (making it that much easier to make a decision about what to make for dinner.) There is no yogurt aisle in this store. Just one kind of yogurt: plain, full fat organic. And when I don’t feel like cooking, I pick up a container of the soup of the day, a loaf of bread and enough chicken meatballs cooked in wine to feed the family. Via Panisperna 225
Antica Pescheria Galluzzi
“Where do you buy fish?” Do people in other cities ask this question? In Rome, it’s more common to hear this question at a dinner party, than “What do you do?” People here take their fish – and fish buying – very seriously. I consider myself lucky and proud to live near one of the city’s best pescherie. This fish store has been around since 1894, and you have to make it here early in the day, before most of the stock goes out the door to be delivered to Rome’s best restaurants. Don’t walk in with a shopping list. Instead, see what they have and go from there. The owners are just as likely to steer you away from a bad, expensive, choice, towards a less expensive alternative. (for instance fresh sardines instead of imported salmon). Trust them, they’ve been doing this forever. Do remember to ask them to clean the fish for you, which they will do at no extra charge. Open only in the mornings. Via Venezia 26, 06 474 4444
I’m not a fan of grocery stores, and I’m much more likely to go for the local than the imported. But…you know? Sometimes you just want to eat a cheese that isn’t pecorino! That’s when I go to Elite, a fancy schmancy supermarket on Via Cavour. I avoid most of the store and head straight to the cheese counter. Oddly enough they have more imported cheeses than almost any other store I know, including hard to find cheeses from the north of Italy as well as a selection of French cheeses. Via Cavour 232
La Bottega del Cioccolato
Ok, Chocolate isn’t really ever on my shopping list. Even so, I head to La Bottega del Cioccolato more often than I should. I try to wait for an occasion – a dinner party gift, Easter, Valentines Day – but really, any excuse will do. The owners are the most recent generation of an old chocolate making family, and opened up shop in Monti about 10 years ago. While their chocolate colliseums and other figurines are cute (and taste good) better to go for an assortment of pralines, which are hand made freshly several times a week. Via Leonina 82
There used to be a fresh pasta store in every neighborhood in Rome. Rising rent prices have made this low margin type of store hard to make a go of. One of the few hold outs in the center is on Via Boschetto. Besides the fresh sheets of pasta – cut to whatever width you’d like – there is usually ravioli, tortellini and on Thursdays gnocchi. Call ahead and they are happy to prepare lasagna and cannelloni. Via del Boschetto 42B; 06 474 4688
Another casuality of rising rents and lack of family enthusiasm has been the closing of two of the neighborhood pastry shops over the last few years. Which is why I was so happy to see Sweety Romeopen on Via Milano. Once I got over the incredibly silly name, and the fact that they are specializing in mostly American desserts, (which usually are disappointing in Rome) I became a regular. While the cupcakes are awful cute, it’s the carrot cake and cheese cake that wins my vote. I love their brownies so much that I actually have to avoid walking down Via Milano.Via Milano 48; 06 489 13713
And here follows a brief list of all the rest:
Il Giardino del Te
One of the best (if not the best) tea shops in Rome.Via del Boschetto 112/A
Al Vino Al Vino
Where I go for wine. Small, but excellent selection. Via dei Serpenti 19
Piero Stecchioti, Macellaio
Although I now usually order my meat from an organic farm in Tuscany, I still go to Piero, the famous ‘butcher of the quirinale’ every so often, as much for the meat as for the political conversation with Piero, a die hard communist. VERY expensive. Via Panisperna 245
I know that I've probably forgotten something, so - to all my fellow monticiani - please add on your favorites!