The Roman Jewish community is the oldest in all of Europe dating back over 2000 years. The official Jewish “Ghetto” of Rome was established in 1555 next to Campo di Fiori by the Tiber river in Rome.
The word Ghetto comes from the Italian word Borghetto which means small village & was used to identify Jewish neighborhoods in Italian cities. The Roman Ghetto was built on low ground which was subject to flooding & surrounded by gated walls controlled by the Pope. The residents of the Ghetto lived under discriminatory laws which made life very challenging.
From this crucible of prejudice and religious upheaval a menu of specialty dishes emerged that combines the flavors and ingredients of the Italian old country with the culinary traditions of the ancient Jewish culture.
Gran Caffe L’Aquila will feature the cuisine of the Jewish Ghetto from October 23rd to 29th with authentic recipes brought back by native Roman Riccardo Longo. co-owner and food and wine director.
The Gran Caffe L’Aquila Italian culture school will also feature a special class on the history and Culture of the Roman Ghetto on October 28th at 11:15 am featuring Jewish Ghetto food and wine while you learn. Try Carcioffi alla Giudia or Suppli dishes invented in the Roman Ghetto that has had a larger local impact then even the Jewish bagel had in New York.
After hundreds of years of isolation from the rest of the city, the Jews of the Roman Ghetto developed their own Roman-Hebrew dialect, culture & delicious cuisine. The cuisine of the Roman Ghetto has provided Rome with some of its Iconic dishes which many do not realize are actually Jewish.
Among the most popular are the Suppli (Fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella & tomato), Baccalafritto (Fried cod), Fior di zucca fritta (Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella.) & of course the iconic Carcioffi alla Giudia (Jewish Fried Artichokes). With very little money & freedoms, Rome’s Jewish population made the best of local vegetables, small inexpensive fish, scraps of meats and their ingenuity. The Nonnas became renowned for their ability to fry these foods to add flavor.
The Jewish families also modified spectacular Roman dishes that featured pork into Kosher friendly versions. The most popular example is Amatriciana alla Giudia. Bucatini Amatriciana is an icon of Roman pasta culture featuring thick pasta rods in a sauce of tomato, onion, pork cheeks & Pecorino Romano cheese.
Being that pork is not Kosher, and meat and dairy cannot be mixed, the Roman Ghetto version substitutes the pork & Pecorino Romano with savory salted beef. The result is deliciously spectacular and a modern favorite in the Ghetto. Similar versions of the Carbonara & Gricia also evolved.
The Jewish Nonnas of the Ghetto have also been making amazing desserts for centuries and today the bakery “Boccione”, in the center of the Ghetto, make many of these delicious specialties including the Roman-Jewish version of a cheesecake pie: “Crostata di ricotta e visciole” (Ricotta & sour cherry cheesecake pie).
Fresh Ricotta infused with Roman sour cherries and baked in a Pie crust to lock in all teh delicious flavor. These sell out by mid morning each day in Rome, but the good news is that this week the chefs at Gran Caffe L’Aquila have recreated it for our guests along with many beloved authentic Jewish Ghetto appetizers, pastas & entree. Join us for a culinary walk down the streets of the historic Roman Ghetto.