Reservations at Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina in Rome are hard to get even when there are few tourists in town. Livia Alyson Careaga, an old friend who is in the wine business, suggested we meet there for lunch and said she would make the reservation. That was fine by us since the place is always crowded and service can at times be rushed.
Michele and I arrived first and all I said to the receptionist was “Livia.” She broke out in a smile and replied, “of course,” and showed us to a table. While we waited, a waiter appeared and poured us complementary glasses of champagne. He could not have been nicer and we realized we had never received such a warm welcome at Roscioli before and it was because of Livia. When she arrived, Livia introduced him as Maurizio, and he poured her some champagne and told us the day’s specials.
Maurizio took our order and brought out a few dishes for us to try as we waited. In fact he brought out so much we had to cancel one of the courses.
First out was a basket of pizza rosa, slices of crisp, thin focaccia slathered with tomato sauce. Romans eat this for a snack throughout the day and stop in at the nearby Roscioli Bakery to buy it by the slice to eat out of its brown paper wrapper.
Fresh Cantabrea anchovies with olives on focaccia came next, a favorite of mine.
We also had burrata cheese stuffed with gorgonzola, something we had never had before. It was served with cubes of ripe pear.
After the champagne, we ordered the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2014 made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo by Edoardo Valentini
The winery is organic and biodynamic. They only keep 10% of the production, the rest is sold to a local co-op. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months, I believe. I visited the winery a number of years ago. Edoardo (d.2006) spent all the time talking to us about the terroir, the grapes and the vineyards. He did not speak about how the wine was produced.This is a very complex and full bodied wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and peach, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste and an extra something that is difficult to describe. It is a great white wine. When I am in Italy I drink this wine whenever I see it on the wine list because it is less costly than you can buy it retail in the USA.
Roscioli is famous for their pasta alla Carbonara. It was fantastic.
Michele had rigatoni alla Matriciana, which was excellent.
Livia had fettuccine with ragu, the pasta special.
Our second wine was the Chianti Classic Reserve 2006 from Castell’INVilla made from 100% Sangiovese sourced from the best vineyards on the property at the southeast corner of Castelnuovo Berardengo. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the soil is alluvial with pebbles and a mixture of lime, clay and sand. Harvest is by hand the second half of September and early October. There is natural fermentation with native yeasts is stainless steel tanks for 12 to 14 days. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak for 24 to 36 months. The wine is released a year or two after other producers’ wines. This is a Chianti Classico that can age and I have had a number of older bottles. The wine was hints of plum, black cherry, violets and a touch of licorice. I picked the white wine and Livia picked this one. I was happy she did.
Last was the lamb chops, the famous baby lamb of Rome, cooked perfectly. Just then, the chef stopped by to say hello and we complimented him on the delicious meal. He was very gracious and explained how he prepares some of the dishes.
Crunchy cannoli filled with sheeps’ milk ricotta topped with candied fruits and pistachios came out next.
Some beautiful little pastries appeared next, though we were too full to appreciate them.
In fact, we were having such a good time talking and drinking that we lost track of time. We were in the restaurant for over 4 hours, missing a 4:30 appointment.
This was our last meal in Rome for this trip and it was one that we will always remember. Thanks to Livia Alyson for inviting us there and to the staff at Roscioli for their hospitality and good food and and wine. We left the next day a few days ahead of schedule because of concerns about travel during the coronavirus crisis. We hope to return soon!