Regional delights in the heart of Rome: Part 2

Prezza, the small town in Provincia L'Aquila, Abruzzo where my parents were born

Thanks again to Buzz in Rome for our second instalment of regional cuisine in the eternal city. 

This post is my favourite of the three as it covers central Italy, wherein lays Abruzzo – the region of my heritage and very close to my heart. 

The mountainous area where my parents were born is of course renowned for its pork, lamb and salume (cold meats like prosciutto and salami).  And the biggest town closest to where they were born, Sulmona (a town in the province of  L’Aquila) is particularly famous worldwide as the production centre for torrone (nougat) and confetti (sugared almonds – the kind you see at Italian weddings).

Like all children of Italian migrants, I grew up hearing from my father that all good things came from his region – in this case, Abruzzo.  In particular, Madonna (whose paternal grandparents were born in Pacentro, a small town in Provincia L’Aquila), and how the confetti from Sulmona are that good, that Diego Maradona even purchased them from here when he got married! Wow! Thanks dad! I really needed to know that!  Having said that, these are most likely true…  but if my father had his way, he’d have everyone believing that just about anything in the world worth talking about has its origins where he does!

In any case, I love visiting Sulmona and all the confetti shops – local confectioners color the confetti and craft them into flowers, butterflies and any other creation you can think of.  It really has to be seen to be believed. The torrone produced in the area also comes in a wide variety of flavours and forms and I absolutely cannot resist the torrone morbido con nocciole e cioccolato fondente (soft dark chocolate nougat with hazelnuts). 

I will definitely check out Buzz in Rome’s abruzzese recommendations as soon as I return. 

Buon appetito! Enjoy!

“Here we are for the second of three stories on Italian regional cuisines. We divided the country in three parts: North (previous story), Centre (this post) and South (the next one).

Therefore the regions we will cover today are Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo and Molise. Lazio is not included since the region’s cuisine tends to overlap with the city’s local gastronomic tradition and we don’t actually know of any restaurants proposing Lazio non Roman dishes.

Again it is difficult to identify a red line in Central Italian cuisine: maybe meat, especially game, has a big role as well as mushrooms and truffle and home-made pasta.

Let’s start with what we like the most. Trattoria Monti (boking bquired), offers an excellent Marche cuisine with some innovative Italian dishes. We will focus on the Marche region’s gastronomy: therefore you’ll have to try the fried olives, the “tortello al rosso d’uovo” – a ricotta and spinach dumpling with egg yolk, the sausage-filled rabbit and the Ancona-style cod. For the modern national specialties the vegetable flans are a must.

Nearby Umbria offers some of the best truffle and mushrooms in the whole country. And the place we most suggest for you is La Tavernetta Umbra with their mixed grilled bread as a starter, home-made fettuccine or tonnarelli (long pasta) with truffle and mushroom sauces and their game meat dishes.

Pretty close to La Tavernetta Umbra, Dal Toscano is possibly the best Tuscan restaurant in town. Very famous for its meat (Tuscan, like Chianina, but also from other parts of Italy and the world). But they also have good cold cuts such as finocchiona and hand-cut ham, and pasta dishes like wild-boar pappardelle or the Tuscan pasta “pici”.

Sweet tooth heaven! Sulmona in Abruzzo - home of torrone (nougat) and confetti (sugared almonds)

Abruzzo is represented by many restaurants in town (most, such as Consolato d’Abruzzo or Sedia del Diavolo, are near Piazza Elio Callistio), considering the big community from this Region living here. Their own “embassy” is actually a restaurant! L’Ambasciata d’Abruzzo is probably the most famous abruzzese restaurant in Rome. As a starter, you should opt for the salumi misti, a mix of cold cuts with lots of salami and sausages. The home-made tonnarelli alla pecorara, with sausage, mushroom and peas are a perfect main dish. To follow, abruzzese style pork-chop. Don’t forget to try their local drink, the abruzzese punch.

Last but not least, the small Molise. Our choice for this little part of Italy is Piacere Molise, near the Vatican. This tiny restaurant (in line with the size of the Region!) also has pizza and Italian dishes. With regards to the local specialties, we suggest you to focus on the cold cuts (sausage with fennel seeds and spicy soppressata) as a starter and the pasta dishes: tacconelle, crioli or cecatelli with traditional molisane sauces.”

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Signing of from Melbourne (but back in Rome very soon!)

Baci, Maria

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