Nutella Zoccolette, the typical Roman "dessert" of pizzerias

Apr 22 2024, 13:38
Small balls of leavened dough fried and sprinkled with cream: not exactly haute patisserie, but these sweets tell a piece of Roman popular cuisine

They are simple, delicious, and naturally fried. Few frills and lots of substance, that homely look that doesn't spoil and a bit of healthy Roman joviality: perhaps the most famous and least talked-about dessert in the Capital are Zoccolette alla Nutella, especially popular in pizzerias.

Zoccolette alla Nutella, Anvedi

Zoccolette, the dessert of a city that has no dessert

Fried balls of leavened dough coated with the world's most famous spreadable cream: an ideal preparation in a pizzeria, requiring very little effort and allowing for leftovers to be used. It makes you smile to call them a specialty, considering their homely appearance, but the Capital, after all, has never really had a true dessert.
The maritozzo is now famous throughout Italy, but before transforming it into a savory or gourmet version, it was always a breakfast pastry. Ciambelline al vino are a must in fraschette, mostly associated with the Castelli and other territories of Lazio, bignè di San Giuseppe are eaten only for Father's Day, and grattachecca refreshes on summer evenings but cannot be considered a true dessert. The only other recipe that serves this function is the ricotta and sour cherry tart, a legacy of Jewish culture. In their simplicity, zoccolette have always been a staple at the end of a meal in Roman pizzerias.

Via delle Zoccolette in Rome

Some say that the name is linked to the famous Via delle Zoccolette, behind the Ministry of Justice, so named because it once housed the Conservatory of Saints Clement and Crescentino, known in the 18th century as the Orphanage of the Zoccolette, referring to the footwear of young women. It is also said that the girls, without work, were forced to prostitute themselves to scrape together some money, although the goal of the institute was precisely to teach them a trade, sewing and embroidery in particular.

Zoccolette alla Nutella, Rifugio Romano

They are not haute patisserie desserts, they are mostly found in traditional trattorias and pizzerias. Anvedi, a restaurant-pizzeria with four locations that has focused entirely on Roman cuisine, proudly offers them, Sant'Isidoro Pizza & Bolle calls them "zeppoline alla Nutella" (but the substance is the same), and even the vegan restaurant Rifugio Romano has proposed them in a vegetarian version. Finding them is not easy, but they are a piece of the city's culinary identity. Perhaps not the noblest or most enticing, but still part of a popular cuisine that has made history.

Cover photo from Anvedi restaurant

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