If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.
Robert Browning hit it right on! And luckily for all of us living in the Campo, we don't have to go very far to find our own little slice of heaven. Tucked behind the flower stalls in the far corner of our dear piazza is the Forno Campo de' Fiori. The spot has a less-than-lofty history - it was once a famous tavern owned by Vanozza de’ Cataneis, the beautiful mistress to Pope Alexander VI and mother to his 4 children including Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The facade still bears the family coat of arms.
In 1970 Mario Roscioli, his son Fabrizio and their partner Dino Bartocci acquired the space and began making bread fit for a Caesar using old artisan methods. The quality, texture and flavor cannot be beat. As testament, Romans line up in the early morning and late afternoon for fresh, hot piazza bianca and pizza rosa (flat pizza bread seasoned with either olive oil and sea salt, or fresh tomato sauce.) They also will find typical Roman style breads such as a crusty ciabatta, airy rosetta rolls, hearty olive, and whole wheat, and nut filled loaves ...and sweet things such as tarts, cakes and cookies. Over the holidays the Forno makes seasonal favorites such as castagnole (Italian-style donut holes), frappe (dough fried light as air and dusted with powdered sugar), and ravioli di ricotta for Carnivale; as well as Panattone and Ricciarelli for Christmas, and colomba and pastiera at Easter.
Fabrizio recently opened a shop next door that serves sandwiches that pair the fruits of their labors with the fruits from the Campo (such as fresh figs and prosciutto.) The shop also carries a mouth-watering assortment of Italian cookies.
Watch the Forno in action here!
Great baking runs in the Roscioli family. Mario's nephew, Pierluigi Roscioli, also runs a bakery in the neighborhood along with his father Alessandro.
Antico Forno Roscioli offers a less traditional, but greater selection of products. In fact they produce over 120 varieties of breads! One of the bakery’s specialties is Lariano bread, a naturally risen, oven-baked bread, filled with raisins, nuts or olives. They also have a fine selection of Kosher and gluten-free breads, crunchy bread sticks and wine biscuits, salmon croissants, vegetable pizzas, small pizzette ... Of course, the pizza bianca and pizza rosa are also delicious. Yes please!
Tasting the stars and the heavens as often as I do feels rather ... sinful! Well, when in Rome!