Monday, December 17, 2012

Unexpected Bruschettas

Preparation time: between 5mins and 1h30. Serves 8 people


Bruschetta, tomatoes
Tired of the usual tomato&basil bruschettas? Try out this recipe and you will delight your guest with a simple but sophisticated starter!


We present you two different kind of bruschettas, which can accompany both a rich or light dinner/lunch: 




Cherry "Confit" Tomatoes&Burrata

Here you are what you need:

  • Bread, sliced
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Burrata (a typical kind of mozzarella from Puglia, south Italy), if you can't find it, you can use Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Oil
  • Salt&pepper
  • Sugar
confit cherry tomatoes
First of all, cherry tomatoes need to be prepared: the only thing you need is time. Cut the tomatoes in halves and dispose them over a oven tray, upon a piece of baking paper. Sprinkle some sugar, oil, salt and pepper over them (sugar and salt in the same quantities).

Leave them cooking in a pre-heated oven at 170° for 1h40mins, at a medium height.

Once tomatoes are ready, put them over a slice of bread, with some Burrata or Mozzarella cut into small pieces.

Put again in the oven (max temperature) for 5 minutes, until the Burrata is melted down.

cherry tomatoes, candy tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella

Serve immediately.

Lardo di Colonnata&Anchovies

Lardo di Colonnata
For this recipe, the ingredients are a little bit more difficult to find, but once you find them the recipe only take 10 minutes:

- Bread, sliced
- Lardo di colonnata
- Rosemary
- Anchovies

We found the real Lardo di Colonnata in the refrigerated section at Best Of Italy, Ranelagh.

Cut the Lardo in very thin slices, and put it over the slices of bread. Add few rosemary leaves upon it and one anchovy on each slide of bread.

Put in a pre-heated oven at 200° for 5 minutes, or until lardo melts and anchovies become a little bit crunchy.
Lardo di Colonnata and anchovies

Simply delicious!

Limoncello!

For 3 LT of Limoncello: Preparation time: 30 mins, Sitting time: 15 days


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The only thing you need are:


  • 1 LT Pure Alcohol (95% min)
  • 8/9 untreated lemons
  • 1 aTnd ¼ L of water
  • 1 kg of sugar
  • ...time: lemon peels have to sit for 15 days minimum, before completing the preparation process.

Day 1:
Pour the bottle of Alcohol and the bottle into a gallon jar.
Try to use organic lemons or make sure that lemons are cleaned to remove all pesticides, dirt, and fertilizer chemicals. Dry the lemons. Use a potato peeler to peel just the yellow part of the skin off the lemons. Make sure you have NO white pith on the back of the peels, because this causes bitterness in the finished liqueur. Try to make the peel pieces as large as possible, because this will make the straining process easier.

Put the lemon peels in the gallon jar and stir gently.



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Cover tightly and put away in a cool (not cold) dark place for alcohol to extract oils from peels, creating an infusion. Let it sit for 15 days. Every two days gently stir lemon peels to refresh exposure to alcohol.


Day 15:
Put the water and the sugar together over the heat and let the sugar dissolve into the water. Do not let it boil, otherwise the water will evaporate.
Once the sugar is melted, set syrup aside to cool. It must be room temp before adding to infusion.
Use a slotted spoon to gently scoop lemon peels from the jar and discard. To avoid creating small pieces that will make straining more difficult, try not to break peels as you remove them.
Add the liquor to the syrup and mix gently. Use a strainer to pour the liquor into bottles and return to cool dark place to storage.
Now Limoncello is ready to use: label it and provide yourself with fancy Limoncello small glasses, as showed in the pictures.

Limoncello is best when served directly from the freezer. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pasta alla Amatriciana

Preparation time: 20 minutes.
Details: approx. €10 to serve 4 people.

Many of you might remember that we have already talked about the real ancestor of this pasta recipe: the famous and delightful Pasta Alla Gricia. This two pasta recipes share their history together as both of them were meant to sustain shepherds in the Lazio region during transhumance days (i.e. the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures).

It's not surprising then that Pasta all'Amatriciana is just Pasta alla Gricia with the addition of....tomato sauce! Many people say that this pasta is the definite completion of Pasta alla Gricia, that reaches its perfection when it becomes "all'Amatriciana". I love both recipes, and strongly think that both of them have the dignity to be thought as "distinct recipes".

Pasta all'Amatriciana takes its name from the city where it's from: Amatrice. Here (and in Rome's deli shops) you can find the n.1 ingredient for this recipe: guanciale di Amatrice. Guanciale is cured pork jowl, and has a unique, mild, intensely piggy flavor. Obviously you don't need Amatrice's guanciale necessarily (at least if you live abroad), and you can use any other Guanciale available at the shop (it must be rigorously Italian, of course). Please never prepare an Amatriciana with Pancetta or Irish Bacon. Seriuosly, Don't do it!
  

The preparation is really easy, and once again:

NO GARLIC!
NO ONION!
NO PARMESAN!
NO PARSLEY!

This is all you need:
  • 1 tbsp E-V olive oil
  • 150 gr. Guanciale (you can find it at Best of Italy or Fallon&Byrne in Dublin, or buy it online!)
  • 120 gr. Pecorino cheese  (easily found at Superquinn, Fresh, Best of Italy, Fallon&Byrne)
  • 400 gr. Pomodori Pelati (pelati/chopped tomatoes)
  • 500 gr. Spaghetti or Bucatini or Rigatoni 
  • 1 chili pepper
  • half glass white wine
  • salt, pepper
Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. While the water is heating, slice the guanciale thinly into narrow strips and grate the Pecorino. Place the guanciale in a cold pan with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and place over medium heat; the olive oil helps to render the fat evenly and acts as a conduit, transferring the flavor from the pan to the pasta.


When the guanciale strips are starting to get translucent, add less than half glass of white wine. Leave the guanciale on the fire for 1 minute max, waiting for the wine to evaporate and add the Pelati tomatoes. Mix all together and season with salt, pepper and a 1 chili pepper. Continue to cook the sauce for 10 minutes, tossing the mix from time to time. 


As soon as you add the tomatoes and the sauce starts to take shape, put the pasta in the boiling water and drain it when it reaches its "al dente" texture. We used rigatoni for this recipe...I love how they mix and dance with the sauce! Quickly add the drained pasta to the pan and turn on the heat. Toss the pasta vigorously coating with the sauce made of guanciale and tomatoes, grinding some black pepper on it. After about 1-2 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and add the previously grated Pecorino (it should not melt on the pasta, so remove the pan from the heat before this step!).


We could say that this recipe is simple, authentic, historical, delicious, etc. I'd say it's Orgasmic. I just can't find other proper words to define it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Frittata di scammaro: Eggless Omelet

Preparation time: 40 minutes in total.
Details: approx. €15 to serve 4-5 people.


This is a typical recipe from Naples, a city famous for pizza, passion, chaos, traffic, sunshine and crime! This lively southern port city is a real paradox: you can find incredible venues and historical places mingled with urban decay. Modern skyscrapers and dilapidated houses. Super clean areas and extremely dirty ones. 
Naples also hosts the world famous Christmas cribs market: thousands of tourist gather here each here to buy nativity sets, sheep, miniature foods, miniature market stalls and crib figures. I mean any kind of crib figure: ever thought about adding Steve Jobs among the mainstream, standard shepherds?!


Let's go back to our recipe: this is called a frittata but it is not made with eggs or meat. It is a cake of fried spaghetti seasoned with the usual and much-beloved Neapolitan condiments of garlic, olives, anchovies, capers, sultanas and pine nuts. It merely resembles a frittata. 
Scammaro refers to days of fasting, and this is one of the so-called lean dishes that you can have before Easter on fasting days. While it contains no meat or dairy, it does have a significant olive oil content (so, for real fasting, I would not suggest this recipe!). It takes time to accomplish, too — 40 minutes of nearly constant attention. But it's worth it. Oh yes, it is.
This recipe fully respects the neapolitan most hortodox tradition and is inspired to the YouTube recipe by Marinella Penta De Peppo. Mrs Penta De Peppo is Naples at its best: culture, love for tradition and arts, beauty and elegance. She is also a great YouTuber and I strongly recommend Italian speakers to watch this video and visit her channel!
Marinella, we love you!

As she teachs us, there is a legend behind this recipe according to which Frittata di Scammaro was a creation of Cico the Wizard (Mago Cico) who managed to create an omelet without eggs (well...the story is far more complex, of course). 

Legends apart, let's now focus on the recipe itself, here's what you need:
  • 280 grams spaghetti
  • 100 grams fresh black olives
  • 50 grams salted capers
  • 75 grams pine nuts
  • 75 grams sultanas
  • 4 anchovies fillets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil and 2 garlic cloves
Take a saucepan, add 7 tbsp E-V olive oil and 2 garlic cloves and put it over medium-low heat. When the garlic starts to get yellowish, add the roughly chopped olives, the capers, the sultanas and pine nuts and mix well. Don't add the anchovies at this stage. Increase the heat very slightly and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. When the sauce is ready, add the anchovies and mix well (in this way they will not melt with the heat). 

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Cook the spaghetti until al dente in plenty of salted, boiling water. Drain well. When ready, transfer the previously prepared sauce to a large bowl. Add the spaghetti and toss well to distribute the sauce throughout.
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Take a skillet and add half glass E-V olive oil. Place over high heat for 1 minute, distributing the spaghetti evenly and pressing it down a little. Then lower the heat to start cooking the omelet and start heating each "pole" of the skillet for 3-4 minutes. Let's imagine the skillet has 4 poles: north, south, west and east. Rotate the skillet over the low fire and heat each pole for 3-4 minutes. Cook one side of the omelet for 15 minutes in total. Then slide it onto a large dinner plate or platter, then flip it back into the pan with the uncooked side down and repeat the cooking process for other 15 minutes (3-4 mins per pole).


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Total cooking time will then be 30 minutes! 


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This recipe is simply amazing: it embodies history, tradition and is characterized by a well balanced mix of mediterranean flavours.


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Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, cut into wedges (scissors work best), as an antipasto, first course, or second course.
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Yes, this is such a great example of simple cooking and great, authentic flavor! Cico the wizard was a great magician..

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Italian Mushroom Risotto


Preparation time: 20 minutes to prepare dried mushrooms + 20 minutes preparation time.
Serves 4 people.


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Autumn has hit the town and what's one of the things about autumn? Mushrooms! Well, Risotto with mushrooms: an Italian classic. As many "Italian classics" is often misinterpreted and screwed with any possible creamy sauce: creme fraiche, fresh cream, creamy cream, cream.

It's true, this risotto requires some patience, but oh so worth it! It's a quite light, simple and vegetarian recipe that will astonish any guest coming home for dinner or lunch without any notice. It should not be too dry, nor too watery: it should be as it should be, as the wise man would say.

Let's start with the recipe!

  • 400 gr. Dried Mushrooms
  • 400 gr. Risotto (Arborio)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 40 gr. butter
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • salt&pepper
  • grated Parmigiano...a lot of Parmigiano
  • 2 vegetable stocks melted in 1 lt. of hot water
  • a glass of white wine
Soak the porcini mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain well (remember to keep the water!). Prepare 1 lt. broth with the vegetable stocks and keep it warm.


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Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and add the garlic. Fry over a gentle heat for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Remove the garlic, add the previously chopped mushrooms and fry for a further 2-3 minutes, until browned. Add salt and pepper, and a bunch of chopped parsley. Drain the mushrooms and keep the oil aside!


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Put butter and chopped onion in another saucepan over low heat; once the butter is melted add the rice and toast it and stir it with a wooden spoon. Add the wine and let it evaporate. 

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When the rice starts sticking to the pan, pour over a cup of mushrooms water and a cup of broth. Let the rice absorb the liquid and repeat the operation until the rice is cooked.
Remember: never stop to stir the rice, which you don't want to overcook: it has to crunch a little bit.


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When ready, add the drained mushroom into the risotto and stir well. Remove from the heat and keep stirring, adding the previously stocked mushrooms oil and grated parmesan. Spread with remaining parsley.
Some people use to add butter in the end: mushrooms oil is healthier and tastier!

Serve immediately...

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... and see heaven!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pollo alla Romana: the recipe

Preparation time: 40 minutes.
Details: approx. €10 to serve 4 people.


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Pollo alla Romana (chicken with peppers or pollo con i peperoni): one of the most classic recipes from Rome! And there's no better way to present this recipe but following the authentic hints by Sora Lella.

Yes, this mouth-watering recipe also allows us to pay a tribute to the glorious Sora Lella. Who was Sora Lella? Well an actress, show-woman, the sister of a old Italian actor and showman (Aldo Fabrizi) and the co-owner of the famous Rome restaurant, now named after her (Sora Lella, on the isola Tiberina).


She was known to the main public as the stereotype of the typical Roman citizen:  she embodied skepticism, wit, pragmatism, indolence, indifference, humor, self-irony and sarcasm.

Needless to say, she was extremely funny and a great cook: we could actually define her as a foodie. Her recipes represent the essence of Italian cuisine, sticking to the most orthodox tradition. For all Italian speakers, here is a small video describing this 100% authentic recipe. A real piece of History:



Argh, I love her

However, let's go back to our chicken recipe: this is an extremely cheap and easy recipe that will amaze anyone loving red peppers! Despite being a very simple mix of ingredients (like every  authentic Italian recipe), the taste is really incredible and red peppers are simply great for flavoring chicken meat.

Ingredients:
  • Chicken pieces for 4 persons 
  • 5 vine tomatoes
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 4 peppers
  • salt, whole black pepper, rosemary
  • 2 garlic cloves
First of all, as Sora Lella teaches us, be careful when selecting red peppers at the shop: they must be 4-cornered, which means they are sweet enough for the recipe. As you can see you really need few ingredients to deliver magic!

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First of all, put the chicken pieces in a pan with some extra-virgin olive oil (not too much - we want to keep the recipe light!) and two garlic cloves (don't chop them otherwise the sauce will be too garlicky and we definitely don't want this) and heat the pan on a medium fire. Add some rosemary, some peppercorns and salt the chicken. 

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Brown the chicken thoroughly from all sides. After 3 minutes add some a glass of white wine and make it evaporate properly for 1-2 minutes. What a nice smell!
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Meanwhile, peel and chop the tomatoes and when ready put them in the pan together with the chicken.

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Leave the tomatoes mix with the chicken and chop the red peppers as shown below. When ready put them in the pan and toss the chicken folding with peppers and the tomato sauce.

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Leave the pan on a medium heat for about 30 minutes covering it with a lid. 

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After 30 minutes have gone, try the sauce and add some salt if needed. Serve the chicken hot without adding anything. Pure simplicity. 

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Pollo alla Romana is not only a recipe: it's History. This is the way Romans have been eating chicken for centuries. And this is simply....

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... Incredible! Buon Appetito :-)



Quote: "Se Napoleone veniva a Roma se magnava er pollo che je facevo io" (Sora Lella)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pasta alla gricia

Preparation time: 15 minutes.
Details: approx. €10 to serve 4/5 people.


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Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe, Amatriciana and Gricia: the kings of Roman pastas! Those are the top 4 "seriously Roman" pasta dishes you cannot miss if you visit Rome! We will dedicate separate posts to each recipe, as each one has a different story and preparation. We are talking about very simple pasta recipes whose origins lay in central Italy shepherd's traditions: this means that any ingredient substitution is not minor and will screw up everything

Pasta alla Gricia is the least famous of the group, but surely many people's favorite....

Let's do some history first: Pasta alla Gricia is the old ancestor of the more famous Pasta all' Amatriciana, and is also known as "Amatriciana in bianco" (basically Amatriciana without tomato sauce). The name origins from a small town in central Lazio: Grisciano, which is very close to Amatrice. Amatrice is the world-famous capital of the incredible Pasta all'Amatriciana (we will soon talk about this in a new post): a small and beautiful town, located on the Lazio mountains in the very heart of Italy. 

pictures of Amatrice
Amatrice, Lazio, Italy

Back in the past local shepherds used to cook a very simple but super-satisfying dish at dinner that would help them facing the harshness and toughness of the next day. They used to cook this pasta when descending from the mountains with their sheeps. That's why the ingredients had to be very poor and represented the most popular local products: Pecorino romano (the hard, tangy grating cheese made from sheep's milk) and Guanciale (cured pork jowl, which has a unique, intensely piggy flavor). At the beginning of the nineteenth century many shepherds moved to Rome, due to a severe sheep-farming crisis. Gricia and Amatriciana started to become very popular dishes among Romans and since then these pasta recipes are associated to the Italian capital.

The good news for all those who live far from Amatrice or Grisciano is that it's very easy to reproduce Pasta alla Gricia, IF you stick to tradition. Before listing the very simple ingredients, please bear in mind what follows:

NO GARLIC!
NO ONION!
NO PARMESAN!
NO PARSLEY!
NO BUTTER!
NO CHILI!
NO BACON!

NO, NO, NO!

Ok, let's get calm again and list the ingredients for 4 persons:
  • 500 grams Rigatoni or Bucatini or Spaghetti
  • 125 grams guanciale (you can find it at Best of Italy or Fallon&Byrne in Dublin, or buy it online!)
  • 150 grams Pecorino (easily found at Superquinn, Fresh, Best of Italy or Fallon&Byrne)
  • a small glass of white wine
  • 1 tbspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • pepper and salt
The preparation is idiot-proof: sticking to tradition is EASY. Seriuosly, hortodoxy is King in this case. Creative licence is allowed, however, when it comes to pasta - as you can see above (we tried with both Rigatoni and Spaghetti for the post).

Bring your well-salted pasta water to a boil. While the water is heating, slice the guanciale thinly into narrow strips and grate the Pecorino.


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Place the guanciale in a cold pan with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and place over medium heat; the olive oil helps to render the fat evenly and acts as a conduit, transferring the flavor from the pan to the pasta. When the guanciale strips are starting to get translucent, add less than half glass of white wine. Leave the guanciale on the fire for few more minutes, waiting for the wine to evaporate and allowing it to release more precious fat that will become the pasta natural sauce! Don't burn the guanciale: it just needs to get brownish. The smell of the Guanciale moist will basically leave you speechless at this stage.


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When the pasta reaches the Al Dente texture, quickly drain it and add it to the pan and turn on the heat. Toss the pasta vigorously coating with the guanciale and the fat, grinding some black pepper on it. Remove the pan from the heat and add the previously grated pecorino (it should not melt on the pasta, so remove the pan from the heat before this step!). This will add the perfect sheepy taste to the pasta. 


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Fatto: Harmony, Sublimity, Simplicity, Art and Splendor all in one plate.


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Ecche-to-dico affà? 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sole alla Mugnaia


Preparation time: 10 minutes.
Details: approx. €10-15 to serve 4 people.


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This is just a super easy and tasty recipe that can save you from the usual canned tuna salad or  grilled chicken fillet. The recipe is originally french (sole à la meunière), but it's always been a very popular dish in Italy and we will post the Italian lighter version. 

You don't need much: just go to any shop and buy some fresh soles or plaices (1 per person)! . Plaices are also very nice and you don't even need to skin them as it's very easy to remove the skin when you eat them after being cooked.

After buying the fish, just go back home: most probably you already have the remaining ingredients in your fridge! That's what you need:
  • 4 soles/plaices
  • 120 grams butter
  • parsley
  • flour
  • salt
  • lemon
The steps are super easy: flour the plaices/soles in the flour and shake off the excess.

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In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil over medium heat. Saute the fish on both sides until nicely golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.

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Remove the fish to a serving platter and keep warm, discarding the cooking fat. Mmmm.... what a great smell (ahah ok, I need to do some crap marketing sometimes)! Before starting eating, slice the lemon and chop the parsley, which you should then sprinkle all over the fish together with some lemon juice.
As a side, we decided to fry some coarsely cut cabbage with some extra-virgin olive oil, a whole garlic clove and a pinch of Italian chili.

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A simply perfect & cheap dinner ready in just 10 minutes. 

Bye bye canned tuna!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Roman walks: forno Campo De' Fiori


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There's nothing better than a weekend in Rome in the middle of October: it's warm, it's beautiful, it's home, it's Rome. Plus, it was 25° and ridiculously sunny, and the reassuring brownish-yellow-light blue Roman colours were shining!

No, I could not spend my weekend back home without thinking at our beloved blog. So, today we'll start with a series of posts dedicated to Roman pilgrimages to holy food sites. And we can't start our pilgrimage without talking about the glorious Forno Campo De' Fiori, can we? 




Ok, we need to do some history first ...

In fact, the Forno is located in Campo De' Fiori (literally, "field of flowers" - the name was first given during the Middle Ages when the area was actually a meadow), a very famous square in which a food market is held every day (except Sundays). You can find a statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno in the middle of the square: he was burnt alive here for heresy in 1600.


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Campo De' Fiori square is located in the baroque area of the city, enclosed between River Tiber, Piazza Venezia, via del Corso and Piazza del Popolo. In this relatively small area you can find tens of extraordinary churches, world-famous paintings, old roman monuments and enjoy the tales that every street tells you while passing by.


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central rome, piazza navona, pizzeria roma

Yes, this is getting boring. Let's talk about real things: our Forno!

Well, this is by far one of the best Forno in town: here you can find an absolutely mouth-watering Pizza Bianca and many other Pizza Al Taglio variations. We are not talking about round pizzas you can eat in pizzerias: this is Pizza al Taglio (see here the dedicated post), which you can buy in local Fornos (i.e. bakeries) or dedicated shops. Pizza bianca is their showpiece: a crunchy, chewy olive oil-based flat bread that lands on the chopping block still hot and straight from the oven every 10 minutes at peak times. And yes, you can see how they make it running through the "kitchen" just behind the counter!

pizza bianca roma, pizza campo fiori, how to make focaccia

Look at this: orgasmic! If only you could smell the pizza scent when it is taken out of the oven...


forno campo de' fiori rome

Of course, you simply cannot miss all the other pizzas (the Margherita is lip-smacking, but also all the other variations are one step above the rest!), including confectionery, biscuits and the large range of breads they produce every day in the shop. 


If you happen to travel to Rome, it's easy to find our beloved Forno: Giordano Bruno is looking exactly at the Forno, whose name is clearly indicated on the walls. I wonder if he had the chance to eat such a thing...

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As you can see in the above picture, the same Forno guys own a twin shop which is located on the Forno's left side: you can find a gorgeous "pizza farcita" there (i.e. pizza bianca filled with fresh ingredients like ham, mozzarella, ham&figs, etc.).

If you can't go to Rome tomorrow morning and have lunch there, you can simply try our great homemade Pizza al Taglio recipe!

If you can't eat carbs or have some kind of allergy but will be in Rome tomorrow morning, you can also opt to spend a whole morning beside the entrance of the shop and smell heaven: it's worth it, surely not less than a Michelangelo painting.