There is the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and then there is Roscioli. If some ‘rebel’ voters would have their way, then Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina in Rome would be a permanent fixture on the list. And when you visit you can sort of understand why. If there was a price for the best curated salumeria in the world this would win hands down.
At Roscioli it is not necessarily about the preparation that goes into the dishes but rather about the curation of the best ingredients that the Rosciolis can procure from the cheeses to the cold cuts that are served at the restaurant or sold by weight.
Curating such a list of exceptional produce from cold cuts, to cheese, olive oils, wines deserves all the accolades one can afford. For foodies, this is definitely what Ali Baba’s cave would look like.This is the type of place which you dream of having in the city you live in. A passionate family that have been baking bread since the 1800s and have turned their deli into one of the most sought after restaurants in Rome.
Alessandro Roscioli told Food and Wine Gazette on a recent visit that the restaurant was a bit of an after thought because they were in the business of selling fine produce to Romans in their grocery store. But people who flock to the family grocer and ask for a sandwich with the mortadella they sourced, or the cheese they had and as the demand grew, they had no other option but to cater for this demand.
If many Catholics go to Rome to visit the Vatican, so do foodies who flock to Roscioli like they are on a pilgrimage. The Roscioli family has worked in the world of hospitality and enogastronomy for four generations. It all started with the bakery on Via dei Chiavari. Then the set-up evolved with Alessandro and Pierluigi’s transformation in 2002 of the family grocer into a refined, multi-functional gourmet bodega with a kitchen and wine cellar, offering a rich and important selection of Italian and international wines.
Bread making is what sets the Rosciolis apart. Their story intertwines with the history of the city and the passion that has been handed down through four generations. Marco Roscioli bought the ancient bakery whose original structure dates back from 1824.
Without a booking, you are likely to spend hours queueing in the hope of securing a table in one of the four spaces that there are in the restaurant. The four spaces in the restaurant include tables are in front of the deli’s display window, at the counter, and in two dining rooms – one on the ground floor and the other on the lower level.
The Rosciolis have a deep respect for the ingredients they use and have no qualms with serving French butter or Cantabrian anchovies such is their respect for top quality ingredients. They have no qualms with offering French butter or Spanish anchovies despite the fact that these are also produced in Italy as well. And that is actually one of the things you have to order if you happen to be one of the lucky few to secure a table here. It is a match made in heaven.
When we visit Roscioli, we are meant to have a light lunch because we are set to dine at Reale, in Casadonna, the restaurant of Italian star chef Niko Romito. But this light lunch turns into a marathon of exceptional produce from the bread to the cold cuts which are to die for.
The 26 month aged Nero Parmense at Roscioli is as delicious as it looks, the coppa di cinta senese marinated with ginger is legendary and the mortadella served with bread is the best mortadella you will ever taste.
Then there is the burro e alici or butter and anchovies. They say that the most simple things can bring the most happiness and that’s the case with some bread, butter and anchovies at Roscioli. You could actually spend an afternoon spreading butter on the bread, add that anchovy, eat and repeat perpetually.
And just when you think its over, ask for their pasta dishes. The carbonara is legendary. It has the reputation of being the best in the whole of Rome and it does not disappoint. We also get to taste the Amatriciana with Mezzi rigatoni or bombolotti, the gricia and the cacio e pepe all exceptional.
Here you will be able to find 300 types of cheese, 150 varieties of cold cuts, 2,800 wine labels, and a wide selection of preserves, sauces, mustards, canned foods, pastas, oils, and vinegars – not only Italian – for takeout or to enjoy seated at the tables of the Ristorante.
There are four different spaces in the restaurant, each situated apart from, but connected with, the others. The tables are in front of the deli’s display window, at the counter, and in two dining rooms – one on the ground floor and the other on the lower level.
Head there next time you are in the Italian capital. And make sure to get a booking weeks in advance.