Seasonal eating in Rome’s springtime

6 Min Read
Roman pizza at Pizzeria La Montecarlo.

If you want to escape the Southern hemisphere winter for the blossoming Rome spring this Easter, make sure to devour some of these seasonal delights.

Rex: What’s in season in Italy right now?

Andrea: Artichoke!

Rome is home to this acorn-shaped bud of the tough-leaved plant from the thistle family. And boy does this city know how to morph it into a delicious morsel.

If you have a green thumb, you can start planting artichokes during our colder months so they’re ready by Australia’s spring.

In Rome, the Jewish community has long been known for its artichoke creations. Carciofi (artichoke) alla giudia – deep fried artichoke – is one of the best-known dishes. It’s flavoured only by lemon water, olive oil and sea salt flakes. Simple but delicious.

The entrance of Sora Marguerita.
Sora Marguerita is a local favourite.

At Sora Margherita, a hole in the wall tucked away behind the main thoroughfare in the Jewish quarter of the city, is known for its artichoke dishes (not to mention its homemade pasta!).

The petals of its carciofi alla giudia are like crisps, while the heart of the artichoke is this lovely oily mush – it truly melts in your mouth.

Sora Margherita's fried artichoke.
Sora Margherita’s fried artichoke.

You can also try the carciofi alla Romana (Roman artichoke) that, together with carciofi alla giudia, comprise two of the most classic dishes of Roman cuisine.

These artichokes are opened in the centre and the choke is removed so the cavity can be stuffed with parsley, lesser, calamint, garlic, salt and pepper. Then they’re braised in a pan along with oil and wine.  What else could you want?

Rex: Meat, actually! What meat dishes stand out to you?

Andrea: Well, it’s easy to get fresh seafood in the city because it’s caught from the nearby seaside town of Fiumincino, about 30 kilometres away and not far from the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

A lunch at Pierluigi will leave you with a smile
A fresh seafood lunch at Pierluigi will leave you with a smile

Pierluigi at Piazza de’ Ricci, which first opened its doors just over 80 years ago in downtown Rome by the Tiber River, provides a truly delectable array of the fresh fruits of the sea.

Sit outside in the piazza while the spring sun splashes its rays, and devour colossal fresh oysters and pasta with mussels in white wine and olive oil while sipping on an effervescent Prosecco. Quite a way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Fresh clam pasta at Pierluigi.
Fresh clam pasta at Pierluigi.

Le Mani in Pasta is another fresh seafood pasta haven, tucked into a laneway on the other side of the river.

Oysters at La Mani in Pasta.
Look at the size of these oysters!

The homemade pasta sings with whole prawns, asparagus (also in season), chilli, black pepper, a dash of sharp olive oil and a smack of sea salt. I love the crunchy sweetness of the heads of the prawns against their tender meat.

La Mani in Pasta in Rome.
Asparagus is another spring vegetable.

They serve white or red, Prosecco or beer and it’s as if these beverages have been made for pasta.

Rex: So the pasta was good. What about the pizza?

Andrea: You can’t come to Rome without eating Roman pizza. This pizza is characterised by its thin crust so that its edges snap as you bite into them. The toppings are uncomplicated: take this cheese, tomato and layers of prosciutto at Pizzeria La Montecarlo, off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, for example.

Prosciutto, pecorino and tomato pizza at La Montecarlo in Rome.
A classic, thin-crust pizza – the way it’s done in Rome – at La Montecarlo.

You’ll be warmly welcomed into this institution, run by Anna, the daughter of the late Idolo Volpetti who ran the famous Pizzeria Da Baffetto in the historic centre of the city.

The unassuming La Montecarlo, renowned for its Roman pizzas, is usually filled with locals and a rare few foreigners who are in the know. Some of the best tables give you prime viewing of the action in the kitchen – an endless shovelling of pizzas into and out of its wood-fire oven.

Pizzeria Monte Carlo.
The entrance to La Montecarlo.

But whether it’s the supremely wood-fired pizza or the concoctions of seafood, seasonal greens and homemade pasta, you’re in a city that is in love with fresh food – and that’s what makes springtime in Rome truly delizioso.

La Montecarlo
Vicolo Savelli, 13, 00130 Roma RM, Italy
Tue-Sun: 12:00pm-1:00am
Mon: Closed

Le Mani in Pasta
Via dei Genovesi, 37, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Tue-Sun: 12:30pm-3:00pm, 7:30pm-11:00pm
Mon: Closed

Piazza de’ Ricci, 144, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Mon-Sun: 12:00pm-3:00pm, 7:00pm-12:00am

Sora Margherita
Piazza delle Cinque Scole, 30, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Mon-Sat: 12:30pm-3:00pm, 8:00pm-11:00pm
Sun: Closed

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