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The Roscioli Phenomenon: from a small Roman shop to an international gourmet destination

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina roscioli 2

The story of Roscioli is an incredible one: from an ancient family-run bakery, the two brothers Alessandro and Pierluigi have managed to create an iconic destination with a shop, wine bar, and acclaimed restaurant in Rome. But what is it exactly that continues to amaze costumers? The owners tell us about these products, from prestigious labels to the rich selection of Coda Nera smoked salmon.

The premises

Ah, beautiful Rome: the Pantheon, Bernini and Borromini, the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums... those who experience it say they have never seen so many tourists, including those of the highest class thanks to increasingly exclusive hotels. In the streets of the center, it's almost impossible to walk between one flash and another, yet the city retains its strong identity and rituals. For example, a visit to what is effectively a taste museum: the Roscioli shop and restaurant, offering the chance to take home small masterpieces of international gastronomic craftsmanship or have them served at one of the 45 tables, which are always in constant movement.

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roscioli interni 6

The sight is impressive: they have over 400 cheese types, which are mostly Italian and French, plus some English and Dutch references, which physiologically drops by 20% when the sheep go dry. Then there are over 150 varieties of cured meats, hundreds of boxes and tins, various jars, sauces, mustards, preserves, oils, vinegars, and packages of dry pasta; up to the 3000 wine labels selected by the guru Maurizio Paparello.

roscioli Vini
roscioli Prodotti in vendita3

Every inch is packed with gastronomic culture that can be studied, transmitted, and pleasantly disseminated here. Up to the orange music scores: those slaps of salmon on one side, among which stands out the coral of the Coda Nera.

coda nera salmone

The door, cutting through the usual hustle and bustle, opens onto the central Via dei Giubbonari, where behind its inventory, Alessandro Roscioli shields himself: "In the end, it's about bread and salami. We're not saving lives here; at most, we're raising triglycerides a bit. We are not the main characters here; it's the raw materials." Today he has two children, but he has helped out with his brother Pierluigi in the family's historic bakery on Via dei Chiavari ever since he was a teenager.

Alessandro Roscioli1

His father Marco, who had eleven uncles, all in the baking business, took over on February 26, 1972, but the establishment was already a historic one, established in 1870. A papal edict from the 1400s mentioned a bakery on the street when civic numbers did not yet exist. And it was almost certainly this establishment, one of the four that provided bread to the poor.

pierluigi roscioli

"Already in the 1980s, while I was in high school, I took care of desserts, I made apple pies, ring cakes, and tarts with ricotta; then I moved to the counter for retail sales and even worked as a delivery boy," he recalls. The deli had been opened in 1992 and initially was just a regular shop, then it changed its format by expanding into a restaurant. Today, he oversees it with his sister Maria Elena, while Pierluigi oversees the bakery.

roscioli Prodotti in vendita2
Maria Elena Roscioli1

"I am the one in charge of the selection: I try to travel as much as possible to find niche producers. And often, customers help us, telling us about what they have tasted in their travels and even bringing us samples. A method that has helped me a lot. So, for example, I discovered a Fiore Sardo producer in Campidano, who still uses the half-fire method with an open tank and smoking with waste smoke, twenty meters from the cheeses, which are aged in remote huts without windows."

roscioli Formaggi

"When I tasted it, I said to myself: Wow! It was completely different from what I had always tried. And it came from someone who in his life has probably seen five human beings. To talk to him, I have to look for him on the landline and go through his wife. Then the negotiation begins: How many wheels do you have? Because in total, he will make 130-140. And he sends them to us with the Italian Post."

roscioli interni 2

The Products

Certainly, there are tourists, but the core of the clientele is still made up of Romans living in the neighborhood, plus online, which, however, remains contained, focusing only on preservable products. And they are the same references that arrive at the New York branch, with all the necessary authorizations. Romanity dictates the law, especially at the table, with the right guanciale, pecorino, and ricotta.

roscioli Gastronomia 1

Then it varies, for example, as salmon is typically consumed around the holidays, coming from Norway and Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. Alessandro has selected six types: two wild salmon, two organic ones, and two raised in flowing waters, including Coda Nera, the only one from an Italian producer.

Coda Nera salmone 2
Coda Nera salmone 1

"I chose it because of its very high quality. It has an intermediate smoking point, which I personally find perfect and balanced, it doesn't cover and doesn't dry out the meat. It always remains tender and melts in the mouth. We also serve it at the tables in a sashimi cut with Saint-Malo yuzu pomade butter and warm bread. Because when the raw material is good, the less you touch it, the better. On the menu, you can choose from all six types, but the larger salmon are cut differently, into long slices or better 'slap,' as they say here in Rome. And we sell them all year round."

Alessandro Roscioli

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