I’ve been going to Bleve since I was 12 years old. Sounds hard to believe, I know. And I admit, that when I first started frequenting Anacleto Bleve’s wine shop in the Ghetto, it wasn’t the Barolo and Brunello I was interested in. Instead, this was my go-to source for empty cardboard boxes. To make Barbie dollhouses out of. (which I would then sell to my sisters. But that’s another story)
Over the too many years in between then and now, I’ve followed Anacleto around town. By the late ’80’s, when I moved back to Rome permanently, the wine shop in the Ghetto had turned into a lunch spot where Tina, his wife, turned out exquisite platters of all sorts of goodies: zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and hazelnuts; roasted peppers stuffed with salmon mousse; truffle topped turkey rolls. And the best cheeses and cured meats and other assorted delights sourced from all over Italy. With wine of course. Lots of wine.
And then Anacleto expanded. He not only moved over to a palatial (literally) space on Via del Teatro Valle, but also opened three handy spaces out at the airport.
When Anacleto expanded his empire, he first turned over the reigns of the Ghetto space to his nephews. Unfortunately the business side of things didn’t work out so well, and the most recent incarnation of the space is now a partnership that has resulted in the hugely successful and delectable Beppe e i Suoi Formaggi.
In the meantime, Anacleto and Tina spent all their time out at the airport, making their small outposts there a safe haven for all travellers passing through the otherwise horrible Fiumicino. Even though the airport bars were doing very well, recent raises in rent out there has convinced the Bleves to give up that adventure. They will be sorely missed by anyone hoping to get a decent bite before catching a plane to just about anywhere.
The only upside of these recent changes is that Anacleto and Tina are back in residence at Casa Bleve, on Via del Teatro Valle. Where they’ve also decided to bring back the original ‘formula.’
Over the last few years at Casa Bleve they’ve tried various things. Opening for dinner, then adding a fancy chef. And raising the prices so that the final bill was as lofty as those palatial ceilings.
But now they’ve returned to the beloved (at least by me and most of my friends) buffet prepared by Tina. Not only are all my favorite cold dishes there - like steak tartar, marinated bacala and carpaccio - but they’ve also added delicate mini sformati, a large selection of cheese and cold cuts, and a glorious selection of seasonal veggies. And, if you’re feeling like something more substantial, there’s also a short menu of warm dishes like soups and stews.
But the best part is that Tina and Anacleto are back in residence. At least for now. They keep threatening to retire. I don't believe it for a minute.
Via del Teatro Valle 48