A taste of Israel in Rome
Rome is the right destination for all those who love art, ancient history and culture. But you must know that in the “eternal city” there is much more than all this.
In the heart of this multicultural city, you will find the Jewish community, the oldest in all Europe. You will have the possibility to try their dishes and find out more about their kosher cuisine!
If you want to have “a taste of Israel in Rome” then keep reading! You will find more information about their food and traditions!
A brief history of the Jewish community of Rome
- In 67 AD Pompey conquered Jerusalem and Judea and many Jews become slaves. Vespasian and Tito destroyed their temple in Jerusalem.
- Caesar and Augustus granted the Jews freedom to profess their religion. For this reason, the Jewish population in Rome raised to 40,000.
- With the “Edict of Milan” in 313 AD, Costantino introduced some restrictions.
- Pope Anacleto II, achieved integration during 1131 – 1138. But throughout the Medieval and Renaissance periods, the popes imposed prohibitions and restrictions to the Jewish Community. The impositions included:
the use of the hat known as “pileus cornutus” and the obligation to wear a badge on the clothes, yellow for men, blue for women.
- On 12 July 1555 Pope Paul IV Carafa established the Rome ghetto. The ghetto enclosed an area of 3 hectares, crossed by 3 main roads:
- Via Rua (today is known as Via del Portico di Ottavia)
- Catalana Street;
- Via Fiumara.
- In the following years, Catholic worship is imposed on them through forced conversion. These are hard and miserable years for the whole community.
- Only in 1846 with the election of Pius IX things changed for the whole community. The Pope ordered the destruction of the walls and doors of the Ghetto. Members of the Jewish community are now allowed to open businesses and also enter the civic guard.
- In 1904 the Synagogue, the Maggiore Temple, was built in the Ghetto.
- In 1938 the darkest years of Italian history begin. Due to the issue of the “race manifesto” there were the first raids in the Ghetto. Only a few people have returned from the concentration camps.
- Today the Ghetto is a place totally integrated with the city of Rome.
- Jewish traditions are still alive in Rome. For this reason, you will be able to find restaurants and shops that represent Jewish culture.
Five things you didn’t know about kosher cuisine
Here there are some things you must know about the kosher cuisine:
- For the Jewish religion, blood represents the soul. For this reason, you cannot eat unclean foods.
- Jews distinguish food in:
b) milk based
c) “parve” which does not present any meat or milk.
3. The animals allowed to eat are sheep, cattle and deer, but also fish (must have fins and scales). Among the banned animals we find pigs and horses. Not forgetting the monkeys, reptiles and insects but also ostriches and vultures.
- Animals must be slaughtered according to strict guidelines and rules to make them pure.
- Meat and milk cannot be consumed together. For this reason, meat and milk should not be cooked together and cannot be served with the same utensils.
Where to taste kosher cuisine in Rome
The former Ghetto has now become a tourist area and is the place where you will find the true kosher cuisine. But be careful! The “true kosher restaurant” must have a Kashrut certification known also as “Teudà”.
Thanks to the certification, the “mashgiach” supervises and checks all the materials and all the procedures.
Here you will find the top five kosher restaurants.
Remember to try the artichokes “alla giudia” but also the “stracotto” (aka overcooked) meat or even the endive and anchovy pie (my favourite dishes!)
1. Bellacarne Kosher Grill
In the heart of the Jewish Ghetto in Via Portico di Ottavia 51, you will find the Bellacarne Kosher Grill.
Here you will find homemade pasta and desserts, fresh-baked bread every day.
But the highlight of this restaurant is the meat.
The owner of the Bellacarne Kosher Grill selects the meats and the cold cuts from his own supply chain.
Once here, I recommend you try the Schnitzel. You will make a tasty journey between Italy, Austria and Israel!
Take the bus no. 40 from Termini Station and in just 20 minutes you will arrive at your destination.
if you need more information check their website HERE
2. Forno Boccione
If you find yourself walking around and don’t have time to stop, I recommend you to take a break at the Forno Boccione.
Forno Boccione is a real institution in Rome. It has been open for about 300 years and is run by women of the same family.
Here you can find different kinds of biscuits but also ricotta and sour cherries tart, Berid’s pizza and hot “bruscolini“.
The pastry shop is located in Via del Portico d’Ottavia n. 1. Take the bus no. 40 from Termini Station and get off at the Argentina stop.
It’s the only milk restaurant you’ll find in the entire neighbourhood. Here you will not find any meat food, nor any food derived from meat.
Here you will taste their dairy products and many famous kosher dishes.
The restaurant is located in Piazza dei Cenci n. 50.
Take the H bus from Termini Station and get off at the Foro Olitorio stop. After a walk of 7 minutes, you will arrive at your destination.
if you need more information check their website HERE
4. Nonna Betta
Here at Nonna Betta you will find traditional Jewish dishes. But you must try their artichokes “alla giudia” and also the amatriciana “alla giudia” the variant of the classic Italian dish.
Once you have read the menu, do as I did, order some of their Middle Eastern specialities. You will go crazy for their babaganoush (eggplant cream) and their hummus!
You can decide what to eat. Here you will find two distinct menus: one with meat dishes and one with fish or cheese.