Abbacchio Romanesco: the best restaurants in Rome where to eat it
The noble dish of the Roman tradition in cult places to be marked
Baby lamb, for its high quality, is a cornerstone of traditional Roman and Lazio cuisine and has been at the base of at least 100 dishes. In Rome, there is a difference between baby lamb and lamb; both are “offspring of sheep,” but the first is unweaned while the second has come of age and is already shaved. Since Antiquity, lamb meat has been a delicacy, a luxury. Until the mid-1900s, in Rome, baby lamb was considered the main dish at parties, reserved only for aristocrats, the clergy and upper middle class, while the masses were given scraps and the giblets or offal, including pluck, cerebellum and tail, which inspired poorer recipes. This delicate meat could be abbacchiata, that is, slaughtered, only between Easter and June. In Christianity, lamb is a sacrificial symbol and a ritual food in the Christian calendar to commemorate the Resurrection. Today, most of the traditional restaurants in Rome serve baby lamb from autumn to spring, but it is particularly consumed close to Christmas and Easter. We recommend a few eateries, simple and informal, that offer delicious baby lamb using proper preparation techniques and cooking times. The delicate meat is difficult to brown and cook, allowing it to retain its taste and lightness. Among the classic recipes, there are cutlets of baby lamb allo scottaditto, greasy and barbequed, to be eaten just off the grill and with your hands; baby lamb alla cacciatora, browned in pieces in lard and cooked for 45 minutes with garlic, sage and rosemary and brushed with anchovy sauce; and baby lamb alla romana, browned in its entirety in garlic, oil and pieces of ham, cooked with rosemary, vinegar and pepper and served with oven-roasted potatoes. In its varieties, baby lamb remains a simple and genuine dish, which recalls in each one of us memories of our childhood and provokes a holiday atmosphere.
In the heart of the Jewish quarter we find Ba’Ghetto, a realm of milk-free kosher food. An environment filled with history, where guests can taste traditional Roman-Jewish dishes. The cutlets of lamb alla Bordolese are delicious. Cooking lessons with the chef are available upon request (Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 57 - tel. 06 68892868).
In Monteverde, in the restaurant Da Cesare, guests can experience the discreet charm of Roman cuisine. A large variety of traditional dishes prepared with excellent ingredients coming directly from the Lazio territory. Don’t miss the cutlets of baby lamb rolled in breadcrumbs and fried, delicious for the double sensation for sweetness and crunchiness (Via del Casaletto, 45 - tel. 06 536015).
In Testaccio, a short walk from the Pyramid of Cestius, for over 50 years the Taverna Cestia has offered the most authentic flavours of Roman cuisine in a lively and informal setting.
A wood-burning oven and fresh products. Be sure to try the baby lamb alla cacciatora, prepared according to the original recipe from Amatrice, baby lamb allo scottadito, and pluck of baby lamb with artichokes, selected from the “Sartor” butcher (Viale della Piramide Cestia, 71 - tel. 06 5743754).
In San Giovanni we find the restaurant Roberto e Loretta, sitting atop the remains of a historic Roman locale and whose furniture is inspired by the 1950s. Among their simple traditional dishes made with seasonal products are tail and baby lamb allo scottadito, masterpeices of marination and cooking (via Saturnia, 18 - tel. 06 77201037).
In Monti, Taverna Romana is a typical Roman trattoria. Excellent appetizers and second courses made with baby lamb (Via della Madonna dei Monti, 79 - tel. 06 4745325).
In Parioli, the restaurant Molto offers baby lamb in a variety of versions, all of extraordinary quality, recently published in Molto-Cucina Italiana. Not be missed are the cutlets of browned baby lamb, accompanied by an artichoke salad (Viale Parioli, 87 - tel. 06 8083680).