It’s hard to define the newest arrival to Monti, here in Rome. At first I was telling people that dall’Antò was a Street Food place. But that is simplifying things. And besides, the owner, Antonio Menconi, doesn’t like the term.
Dall’Antò sells three kinds of old fashioned food: necci, farinata, and testatrolo. Two are from Tuscany and one from Liguria. One is kind of sweet, while two are definitely savory. But after going there a few times I finally figured out an easy way to describe this place.
- Farinata – a type of Ligurian pancake made from chickpea flour
- Testarolo – a type of wheat flour pancake that is cooked in a wood burning oven in special terracotta dishes, to form a large pancake. Once it is cooled, it is then cut into lozenges, boiled briefly, then dressed with pesto.
- Necci – A Tuscan pancake made from chestnut flour.
Since the ingredients are so minimal – basically flour and water – the flour of course makes all the difference. And flour just happens to be Antonio’s passion. So while the resulting snacks are simple and rustic, they are full of flavor since so much research and care goes into sourcing of the flour.
Antonio goes beyond sourcing flours just for these three pancakes. He also imports artisan breads from all over Italy. Don’t expect fluffy airy loaves. These are rustic, heavy wheels that are made with a variety of organic flours and naturally risen to result in dense, heavy crumbs that can last for up to a week.
If you don’t feel like taking a loaf home, Antonio will either toast or grill (there is a difference!) a slice and top it with either a drizzle of bright green olive oil or slices of cured coppa.
Me? I’m partial to the farinata. And, no, it’s probably not the kind of pancake you were imagining. You probably didn’t even realize that Italian pancakes were a thing.While you can make a quick lunch out of it, it’s also the answer to a mid afternoon snack craving. If you ask most people who grew up with these rustic treats, they remember them as something they grabbed on their way home from school. So, no, these ‘pancakes’ are not a breakfast thing.
To help you get your head around the whole idea of Italian pancakes, here are a few videos that should explain things more clearly. The videos showing Necci and Testaroli in the making were taken at Dall’Antò, here in Rome. Instead, the Farinata video was one I made a couple of years ago at the Salone del Gusto. And because Antonio is serving Focaccia di Formaggio di Recco , I’ve included that video from the Salone showing that as well (even though it’s not a pancake)
If these don’t make you hungry, I’m not sure what will.
Via Madonna dei Monti 16, Rome
Open Tuesday – Saturday 12-8pm
Open Sunday 12-3pm