Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Roma - Piperno

Ristorante Piperno  -

Monte dé Cenci, 9 Roma
tel.Linea 1 +39 06
tel.Linea 2 +39 06 68.33.606
fax +39 06

Piperno is the most famous restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome, having been in operation since 1860.  Nowadays, it must be called touristy, but still definitely a place where you can have a really good meal.  We had a very enjoyable, and somewhat decadent lunch there in January 2009.  Piperno serves a purpose as a restaurant that serves the true Roman classics, in a nice atmosphere with very professional service.  In fact, every dish we ate was right out of the Roman greatest hit list.  Each dish was true to type, and very well done.

Of course, I started with a negroni, not becasue it is typically Roman, but because I really like them!  This was the first place I have ever seen a negroni served with olives in the drink.. Definitely different, but good.  We will leave that for my full negroni post, sure to come someday.

One of the top 10 most famous dishes of all of Rome, and certainly the most famous dish of the jewish ghetto is the: carciofi alla giudea.  Directly translated as artichokes in the jewish style.  Piperno is definitely the place to order this dish, in fact it would actually be silly not to.  Two caveats:  1: the artichokes we ate in January were probably frozen, and from nowhere near Rome, and 2: they are very expensive.  They were excellent, but when I ordered the carciofi alla giudea the waiter asked me if I wanted 2.  I responded yes, thinking we would get 2 pieces.  In reality, we got 2 plates with 2 pieces each.  Each plate was E18 or so.  There is definitely no need to have more than one artichoke per person, save room for something else.  The picture is below, they were definitely very, very good.

Next was time for pasta.  Everyone who goes to Rome should be aware of the 3 most traditional Roman pasta dishes.  In no particular order, they are:  bavette cacio e pepe, bucatini all'amatriciana, fettucine carbonara.  At Piperno, I order the bavette, cacio e pepe, pictured below.

As you see, this is a very simple dish.  It is made with olive oil, pecorino cheese (the main grating cheese of Rome, butter and copious amounts of black pepper.  You will see this pasta on menus all over Rome.  This was very good.  

Sloan had the delicious gnocchi pictured below.  For general information, the traditional gnocchi day of Rome is Thursday.  Restaurants all over Rome serve gnocchi as specials only on this one day of the week.  A gnocchi all romana would be a traditional semolina gnocchi, as opposed to potato.

Staying along the lines of local Roman specialities, we then shared a puntarelle con salsa di acchiughe.  Puntarelle is a very bitter green that grows around Roman.  The only thing I can think to compare it to is a leek.  It is very bitter, and very refreshing.  The traditional dressing for this made with anchovy.

For my entree I stuck to another ancient Roman classic: coda alla vaccinara : braised oxtails.  Roman cuisine is very big on secondary cuts of meat, along with organs and other cuts collectively referred to as: il quinto quarter (the 5th quarter).  This food of the poor has over the centuries come to define Roman cuisine.  Oxtails are definitely one of those dishes.  You will see trippa alla romana, pajeta (another tripe like dish) all over town in traditional restaurants.  The oxtails pictured below we very, very good.  It was a lot of work to get the meat of the bone, but it was definitely worth it.

The funniest part of the meal came with the dessert menu.  See the picture below:

That is right, "Fried Grandpas Balls" for dessert.  I guess grandpa should have been a little more help in the kitchen!  I am sure we ordered them, but I don't really remember what the dish was.  If you go, be sure to take a picture!

In summary, we really enjoyed our decadent lunch at Piperno.  It is a great place to taste some real Roman classics.  It is a little stuffy and a little expensive, both of which can be fun. I would consider it a best for a real, sitdown lunch.  It is a nice way to see the jewish ghetto (which isn't really much to see).  It could definitely work for a nice dinner as well.  For dinner, reservations would definitely be recomended.

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