A brief guide to Rome’s top delis and gastronomic shops
Forget designer shoes – my idea of the perfect shopping spree involves wedges of aged pecorino romano, the heady aroma of truffles, and a thick cut of glossy guanciale. But whether you’re a diehard foodie like I am, or just looking to impress your dinner guests, the Eternal City is home to a dizzying array of gourmet stores that will delight just about anyone.
Eataly is a multi-level gastronomic center in the Ostiense neighourhood where you can discover Italian cuisine in all its forms. Their philosophy centers around the Slow Food approach, raising awareness of quality produce and making it accessible to all. There are four floors where you can dive into the Italian culinary world, four floors with 13 different eateries, rooms for cooking courses, their very own market with fresh seasonal produce coming in from top-quality producers in Italy, and even a travel agency specializing in culinary holidays! Have a stroll through the market to get top-notch ingredients to cook up at home. Walk through their wine department which stocks over 25,000 Italian wines, including 1,500 organic and biodynamic wines.
Piazzale XII Ottobre, 1492 (Ostiense) – Open every day, 9am-12am – www.facebook.com/eataly
Picca & Picca
In this shop situated only a few blocks from Termini station, you can find gourmet specialty food and excellent wines and the quality of its products, from hand-crafted chocolates to the Sicilian pasta made of ancient wheat and the traditional almond biscuits from Tuscany, is outstanding. The location is tiny, but the selection is huge: the shelves are stocked with sauces, oils, wines, liquors, sweets, pasta and many other Italian artisanal products carefully selected by the Picca sisters. It’s even possible to order more goodies –such as fresh truffles- and collect them the following day
Via Principe Amedeo, 7f/g (Termini) – Open every day, 10am-11pm – www.facebook.com/piccaepicca/
Opened over four decades ago, the Testaccio neighborhood’s Salumeria Volpetti steadfastly reigns as the king of Rome’s gourmet food scene. Black and white truffles, aged balsamic vinegar, whole legs of prosciutto, and a heart-stopping cheese collection (think baked ricotta, stravecchio parmigiano reggiano, creamy cakes of goat cheese…), extra virgin olive oil, and even international favorites like pata negra and Scottish salmon crowd the counters. Best of all, the store is known for generously doling out tasting samples to potential buyers, so you know exactly what you’re purchasing. Credit cards accepted, thank God.
Via Marmorata, 47 (Testaccio) – Open Mon-Sat, 8.30am-2pm, 5pm-8pm – volpetti.com
No need to travel to the Tuscan countryside for a taste of the region’s gastronomy – gourmet boutique Podere Vecciano brings central Italy to you. Thank the Amoruso family, the shop’s owners, who sell products made from their family’s centuries-old farm alongside a formidable selection of extra virgin olive oils, wines and spirits, artisanal beers, vinegars, truffles, jams, honeys, jellies, mustards, pasta, legumes, sauces and pates. Looking to accessorize your kitchen? Handmade ceramics (made in their own workshop), tablecloths, tea towels, knives, and wrought-iron kitchenware, and more, round out the store’s inventory.
Via dei Serpenti, 33 (Monti) – Open daily, 10am-8pm – poderevecciano.com
Originally a norcineria, Ercoli (around since 1928) has since evolved handsomely into one of the Capital’s top gourmet destinations. Besides Italian favorites like cured meats, cheeses, wine, balsamics, and olive oils, the store’s claim to fame is its Re Caviale caviar collection, imported directly from Iran (Ercoli’s owner Alessandro Massari, even travels there annually to personally follow the production). Look for niche items like keta caviar, Sardinian bottarga (salted, cured fish roe), and Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea.
Via Montello, 26 (Mazzini) – Open daily, 10am-10pm – ercoli1928.com
Tartufi and Friends
The white truffle is the gastronomic equivalent of a luxury convertible: Italian tartufi are elusive, rare, and the most valuable on the market. The black truffle, meanwhile, is easier on your wallet but still opulent. Whatever your preference, Tartufi and Friends Truffle Lounge (naturally located in the chic real estate at the foot of the Spanish Steps) boasts virtually any truffle product a foodie could dream up: white or black truffle pate, truffle-infused balsamic vinegar, truffle butter, dried figs in truffle-infused honey, truffle pesto, truffle pasta, truffle liqueurs, and plenty of other delicacies starring the prized tuber line the shelves.
Via Borgognona, 4e- Open daily, 11am-9pm – tartufiandfriends.it
While there are over a dozen of Castroni stores scattered throughout the city (head to their website to find the one closest to you) top honors go to their location on Via Cola di Rienzo, a short walk from St. Peter’s Basilica. Although Italian products are prominently on display, the store also has hard to find international items, like Greek halloumi cheese, tea from Japan, coffee beans from Central America, and pink salt from the Himalayas. If you’re an expat hankering for backhome staples, Castroni also carries things like Skippy peanut butter, Vegemite, salsa verde…the list goes on.
Via Cola di Rienzo, 196/198 – Via Nazionale, 71 – Via Frattina,79 and various locations in Rome – Open Mon-Sat, 7.45am-8pm; Sun, 9.30am-8pm – castroni.it
One of the best ways to spend a free morning in the city is perusing Franchi. Pricey luxuries like caviar and truffles neighbor prosciutto, salami, formaggi, and fresh pasta; bottles of wine and olive oil stand attractively in ordered rows; and a superb tavola calda, or cafeteria style counter with pre-made dishes resides at one end of the shop for when hunger inevitably strikes. Pastas, roast beef, rice-stuffed tomatoes, and other filling dishes are typically on offer, along with tempting fritti like fried cod fillets and suppli’.
Via Cola di Rienzo, 200 – Mon-Sat, 9am-8.30pm – Franchi Fb Page