The term “Roman Cuisine” doesn’t just refer to culinary specialities of the city of Rome alone, but also to dishes from the surrounding, neighbouring areas that have been strongly influenced by Roman traditional food specialities. Amongst which the nearest is, of course, the Castelli Romani,. An area that has always been the Capital’s pantry, vegetable garden and cellar. Important figures to remember, are the “carrettieri a vino’ that took wine into Rome overnight from the Castelli Romani, to replenish Rome’s Osterias, on their horse-drawn carts.
The “Castellana” cuisine is abundant with famous dishes that are usually attributed to Rome, but which, in the “Castelli” take on new flavours and aromas, with the additional bonus of wonderful panoramas to admire straight out of the restaurant windows. The hospitality of the Castelli is also renowned; top-notch “oste” and restauranteurs bend over backwards to make their guests feel at home, whilst the fresh and crisp air will ensure a healthy appetite!
Practically everywhere in the Castelli you can find dishes that are true to Roman tradition. This means you will easily come across typical pasta dishes such as: gricia, rigatoni cacio e pepe, bucatini all’amatriciana, fettuccine alla papalina, fettuccine con rigaglie di pollo, minestra di broccoli con arzilla, spaghetti alla carbonara, pasta con il cavolo, rigatoni con la pajata. Main courses such as abbacchio scottadito or alla cacciatora, trippa alla romana, coratella d’abbacchio, coda alla vaccinara, pollo alla diavola or with peperoni, saltimbocca alla romana, carciofi alla giudia, are just as common in the Castelli as in Rome.
On the other hand, the most characteristic dishes of the Castelli Romani, are those based on local produce such as mushrooms (be they porcini, galletti or ovuli, gathered by licensed foragers in the local woods), chestnuts, broccoli, ‘regina’ beans, artichokes, fava-beans, asparagus (often of the wild variety), ramoracce (wild radish, charlock), chicory, cabbage, fish from the lakes and of course, game. It is hard to avoid mentioning Fettuccine ai funghi porcini, la Vignarola (a spring vegetable ‘stew’ made with fava-beans, artichokes, peas, spring onions, lettuce and jowl bacon), Regina bean and chestnut soup, matticella artichokes. This is just the tip of the iceberg though!
Dry patisserie can be found in every bakery, restaurant and osteria: biscuits, ciambelline al vino (remember that anything with a hole in it in Italy takes the name of doughnut!), pangiallo (a dense mix of dried fruit, candied peel and nuts), tozzetti (like cantucci but with hazelnuts) and mostaccioli (chewy biscuits, yet again with dried fruits, nuts, spices and honey).
All of the recipes from Rome and the Castelli, including the desserts, should of course be rigorously accompanied with the famous DOP, DOC and DOCG local wines: Frascati, Frascati Superiore, Colli Lanuvini, Colli Albani, Castelli Romani, Cannellino, Velletri, Marino, Monte Compatri-Colonna.
To find out more here is a link to a guide of Typical dishes of the Castelli Romani