A Visit to Volpetti, A Temple of Gastronomy by Judith Works, Author of Coins in the Fountain: A Memoir of Rome

PictureWhat is Rome without food? Foodies argue over what deli is the best in the city. I never tried them all but my favorite is Volpetti. None of my visits to Rome are complete without entering the small shop on the Via Marmorata to gaze, taste, sniff and shop. And to remember all the time (and money) I spent there when Rome was my home. Small but mighty, it is crammed with delicious delights and helpful staff that want you to sample – a slice of this, a sip of that. A gourmet’s idea of heaven.

Not long ago my daughter and I were on a girl’s week in Rome. We popped down to the store near our hotel do a little shopping for a picnic and for treats to take home to assuage our husbands, left behind in Seattle’s rain while we tried a little dolce vita in the sun.

What to look at first? Our eyes rolled around, dazed with the splendor until we saw the humble cheese pacifiers. What mama and bambino could resist such a temptation? Next came serious business – the purchase of balsamic vinegar. After several tastes we decided on a bottle from Acetaia Dodi, founded in 1891. The Riserva di Famiglia made me dream of strawberries just picked on a summer day. Daughter said, “This is it! I taste black cherries, Barolo and honey.”

Now we were offered more samples, this time a slice of cheese: pecorino or was it caciocavallo? No matter – we bought a chunk along with a bottle of red wine to enjoy in our room. Our helper threw in slices of good Roman bread, all neatly wrapped so they wouldn’t go
Coins in the Fountain
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By this time we were starving and Volpetti Più, just around the corner, was open for lunch. We paid for our purchases and took one last look at an outside display window where starters like arancini, deep-fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, were set out for shoppers to take home and heat up. 

The tavola calda was already crowded. We picked up our trays and started down the line trying to decide what to have: pizza was waiting but I saw pomodoro al riso, tomato filled with rice, my favorite, and some irresistible olive ascolane, large olives stuffed with a meat mixture and deep fried. For a secondo I settled on rosemary roast chicken with the Roman spring vegetable, the chive-like agretti, on the side. My daughter wanted to try the arancini before moving on to insalata al mare with octopus and a plate of grilled vegetables.

When we were finished it was time for a decision – a siesta or more sightseeing? No contest – our time in Rome was short so we jumped on the Metro to head for the Via Condotti. Shoes, instead of food, were now our goal.

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