I was all set to write a blog post with a round up of all my favorite artichoke recipes. But then I realized that I’d been there, done that.
And while you might appreciate artichoke recipes, there is the sad, but true, fact that the artichokes you can get at home just aren’t the same as the artichokes you get in Rome (unless of course you’re lucky enough to call Rome home).
While I am one of the lucky few, and certainly cook up my fair share of artichokes while they are in season, if you get anywhere near any of my social media feeds then you know I’ve eat my fair share of artichokes out and about at Roman restaurants.
So here, my gift to you today, is a very short list of where you are most likely to find me eating artichokes. This is not by any means an exhaustive list. Almost all restaurants in Rome will have artichokes this time of year. But this is just my own personal list which has as much to do as where I end up during the day, as anything else.
But first, an carciofi primer: these are the three main ways that artichokes are eaten in Rome:
Carciofi Alla Giudea – deep fried, in the Jewish manner. You can read about them here.
Carciofi Alla Romana – slowly stewed with wild mint, parsley and garlic. You can read about them here.
Vignarola – A spring stew of artichokes, fave beans and peas. You can read about it here.
Artichoke Season: It varies, according to the weather. But the first artichokes start to show up at the end of January. These are usually from Sardegna, and while not local, are incredibly good. The next artichokes to show up in Rome are from the south, usually Sicily and Puglia. Finally, by the end of February or beginning of March the gorgeous, huge Roman artichokes show up. BUT: this year everything was much, much earlier. So there is no real predicting, especially with global warming.
If you do make it to Rome, I’d love to see your artichokes. If you can hold off long enough to photograph them before you dig in, that is. If you put them up on Instagram, use the hashtag #carciofogram and I’ll be able to see them. And on FB, just tag them with my name.
And if you want to see even more artichoke action, follow me on Snapchat. I’m eminchilli. (the next few weeks I’ll be in the USA. But I promise more artichokiness upon my return)
Piperno – This is the grandaddy of artichoke restaurants in Rome. Located at the edge of the Roman Jewish Ghetto, Piperno prepares and serves artichokes all year round. They not only have them Alla Giudea, but also alla romana and vignarola when it’s in season. There carciofi alla Giudea are more homestyle, served kind of squooshed and flattened, with more soft and tender leaves, and only the edges crisped. I also love their Coratella con carciofi. Read more about Piperno here.
Giggetto – I’ve probably eaten my weight in carciofi at Giggetto. Like Piperno, they are located in the Jewish Ghetto and their artichokes are prepared in the same style as Piperno. And like Piperno, they serve them pretty much all year long, swapping out local artichokes for artichokes imported from France when the season ends. So….the quality can vary, and they are definitely much better in season. BUT….if you are only in town during the off season, and really want to try one, go ahead. I do. Read more about Giggetto here.
Sora Margherita – This hole in the wall is located in the Jewish Ghetto and their artichokes are much different in style than either Piperno or Giggetto. They really fry the hell out of them, and the leaves turn a deep bronze color. Think artichoke chips. They are addictive. Sora Margherita usually has them year round, using imported French artichokes as well. And I have to say that their method of longer, crisper frying is a better approach for out of season artichokes which tend to be more fiberous. Read more about Sora Margherita here.
Pompiere – Also located in the Jewish Ghetto Pompiere’s fried artichokes fall somewhere in between the soft smooshed ones at Piperno and the crisp dark ones of Sora Margherita. Pompiere also can be counted on to have carciofi alla romana as well as vignarola when in season. Read more about Pompiere here.
Flavio Velavevodetto – This is my favorite of all. Located in Testaccio, Flavio is meticulous about using not only seasonal and local artichokes, he even waits for certain varieties to come into season for the specific methods of cooking them. So, don’t expect everything all year round here. But if you do see any artichokes on the menu, order one of each. Including Coratella con Carciofi. Read more about Flavio Velavevodetto here.
Perilli – This may be my favorite Vignarola in town. Vignarola is usually a deep, sludgey (but delicious) mess of artichokes, peas and fave beans. Instead Perilli keeps all the ingredients separate until the last minute when they are mixed together on the plate. Also? The fave are sauteed with huge chunks of guanciale. I also love their tender-as-butter carciofi alla romana. Read more about Perilli here.
Da Enzo – One of the only places I eat in Trastevere these days, they make an amazing Carciofi alla Giudea. Read more about Enzo here.
Note: I haven’t mentioned pasta, but all of these restaurants will also have some type of pasta with artichokes when in season. For instance Enzo had a great Artichoke Lasagna recently. Also please note: There are MANY MANY other great restaurants that I know and love and that serve fantastic artichokes this time of year (like Armando and Cesare to name but two.) These are only the places I end up most often, for one reason or another.
This is a very short list, so I’d love to hear where you eat artichokes in Rome. Please comment below and let me know.
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