When you visit Roscioli in the West Village, you will have two choices: Upstairs or downstairs? On the lower level is the Wine Tasting Room set in an arched brick wine cellar, while the upstairs the Alimentari is like paying a visit to a Roman market with cheese and cured meats on display. Wine is flowing freely at both.
We opted for the upstairs during a rather impromptu visit, arriving a half hour before opening and soon found ourselves seated at a small counter near the entrance. Here the amazing journey begins. First, the space oozes warmth with a collection of pickled vegetables, tomato sauce, olives and olive oils on open shelves alongside a slicing station for charcuterie. Blonde wooden banquettes and polished concrete floors provide yet another dimension, with tables topped with sparkling wine glasses. The hosts are quite welcoming and help guide diners through the menu. With close to 200 years of history behind it, Roscioli knows how to do it right.
The menu is divided into several categories - Fritti, Antipasti, Burrata, Salumi, Formaggi and other Roman classics. With a glass of red wine in hand, we began with the Suppli di Coda alla Vaccinara. It is a football-shaped rice ball, completely crispy around the edges with a luscious center filled with shortrib and pecorino. It’s one of those bites that is followed by an ahhhh. Simply lovely.
So is the Tortello Ripieno di Pollo alla Cacciatora, pillows of pasta filled with roasted chicken in a simple chicken broth presented beautifully with a dusting of cheese and pea tendrils sprinkled on top. It’s the kind of dish you would like to cuddle up with on a chilly fall or winter night.
In between courses we were also offered gratis a bowl of roasted tomatoes in olive oil atop some of the freshest ricotta I’ve tasted and a piece of house-made focaccia. Both were excellent.
but the most unforgettable dish was the Porchetta Maialino Funghi Pure di Sedano Rapa with an ultra-thin crispy shell topped with sauteed chanterelle and matsutake mushrooms with fresh rosemary. The whole thing sat on a bed of silky, smooth celeriac puree.
There is so much to explore here. We barely scratched the surface. But for now we will savor this truly authentic Roman adventure.
- Thomas Rafael