Oddly enough I’ve never written a stand alone blog post on Piperno. This is, if memory serves me correctly, one of the first restaurants I ever went to with my parents when we lived in Rome in the ‘seventies. And it continues to be one of my father’s favorite places which means I’ve been there about 4000 times since then.
Piperno’s, in case you don’t know it, is one of the oldest restaurants in the neighborhood of the Jewish Ghetto. (Although whether or not it is precisely in the Ghetto or not is a topic I’ve been discussing with my father lately. He says it’s definitely not in the Ghetto. I always thought it was. The website is somewhat vague, saying it’s on the boarder. I’m not 100% sure it matters food wise.)
Like all of the other original restaurants in the neighborhood (Giggetto, Sora Margherita and Pompiere) Piperno’s, while serving some Roman Jewish dishes, is neither Kosher nor Jewish owned. But it has been serving traditional Roman food since 1860. And doing it very well.
Like all of the restaurants in this neighborhood, their speciality is carciofi alla giudea. While the season has now ended, Piperno continues to prepare them into the summer, using imported artichokes from France. During a recent lunch there (with my father, of course) we ordered both the deep fried artichoke as well as the very last of the vignarola (made with big hunks of guanciale, just how I like it) While I love their carciofi, there is always plenty of other things to keep me happy during the rest of the year. At lunch my step mother ordered one of my favorite dishes there: saltimboca alla romana. (and yes, it was difficult not to grab a piece of bread, reach over and sop up the juices) Sophie and I instead went the fishy route, which is always a good choice here, ordering grilled squid and shrimp.
But what I love best about Piperno’s this time of year? The outside seating. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a good restaurant with comfortable outdoor seating in Rome these days. And by comfortable I mean not in the middle of traffic, and not exposed to passing pickpockets ( a real issue these days unfortunately). Since Piperno’s is situated in a tiny piazza that even Roman taxi drivers have a hard time finding, it’s tranquil and safe. And as an added bonus instead of using rickety outside furnishing, they just pick up and move the entire bentwood back dining room outside. How elegant is that?
Since we had eaten quite a bit during our lunch and were all kind of gearing up for summer bathing suit weather, we just ordered strawberries for dessert. And of course a coffee in what have got be the cutest espresso cups around.
What we didn’t order? Grandfather’s Balls. Palle di Nonno. Deep fried, chocolate studded ricotta dumplings which are a house specialty that I’ve never seen anywhere else in Rome. And that look like…well, you get the picture. If you do go you should definitely order them. And take a photograph. I dare you.
Monte de’ Cenci, 9
Lunch and Dinner
Closed Sunday evening and all day Monday
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