Roman rosetta filled with fish. A historic restaurant in Rome opens a street food spot next to the Pantheon

Jun 27 2024, 12:54
Massimo Riccioli, owner of La Rosetta, has made his move: next to the Pantheon, he opens his Street Fish, featuring gourmet street food and traditional rosettas made in Trastevere

“When we were kids, my grandmother used to make us the classic hot ciriola (a type of bread typical of the Lazio region), fresh out of the oven, with olive oil for a snack. It was something we eagerly awaited. One day, she accidentally placed a ciriola on a chair and sat on it: it was even better flattened. We had a great feast and a good laugh. That’s where my idea for the sandwich originated.” Thus, after several decades, Massimo Riccioli, son of Carmelo, one of the first fish restaurateurs in Rome, opens his Street Fish, street food based on fish. And what fish! A fantastic place, eight meters from the Pantheon, offering freshly cooked seafood stuffed into the traditional rosetta. “Round and, of course, flattened – smiles the Roman chef – depending on how the customer prefers it. But, of course, flattening it soaks up the seasoning well and makes it even better!”

Street Fish at the Pantheon

“The rosetta,” explains Massimo, “is a tribute to Rome's historic, traditional bread. But I also enjoyed the fact that we are located on Via della Rosetta, which is also the name of the restaurant, the first (since 1966) to offer raw seafood in Rome and where my father began serving all sea products in the city. In the sandwiches goes my, our cuisine. Therefore, freshly made dishes created in the same kitchen as the restaurant.” Which, for fish, is one of the best and most exclusive in the Capital. But isn't street food, the sandwich, supposed to be popular? How much will a Rosetta-signed sandwich cost? “The sandwich is and remains a popular item,” says the chef. “And it will be reasonably priced: nine, ten euros. That was another goal of mine. Especially seeing my neighbor (referring to 'Antico Vinaio') offering sandwiches full of ready-made sauces and unspecified cold cuts that I really can't stand. Here we make real, artisanal cuisine. We like to cook, starting from fire, oil, and spices. You won't find ready-made sauces. And if there are any fish cold cuts, we'll make them ourselves! It pains me to see the industrial jars my neighbor leaves among the waste: we want to offer high-quality street food in the heart of Rome worthy of our name and fame.”

Massimo Riccioli in the Rosetta's kitchen at Pantheon

Affordable prices, great cuisine

So, what will you eat for ten euros? “Today I made a splendid pasta with sardines,” says Riccioli. “And I liked the idea of trying it with a bread sauce. So, I thought that sauce could work perfectly in a rosetta, especially if flattened – he smiles. And then, maybe I'll make a pasta dish with sardines inspired by that sandwich, with a bread sauce. Street Fish will be our idea lab, both for sandwiches and for Rosetta's dishes.” From July 3, a soft opening until August 10 – the closing date for holidays – and a grand reopening in September. A perfect time to taste the rosetta stuffed with anchovy parmigiana (which reaches its peak when flattened!) or the spiced tuna burger, just seared with homemade ketchup and a slice of fried aubergine, salad, and raw and cooked onion; or the cup with two scoops of panzanella ice cream topped with homemade creamed cod; or the sandwich with breaded dentex or pagrus, or any fish of the day, or even with a prawn cocktail always freshly made in La Rosetta's kitchen. “We'll have fun too,” assures Riccioli. “Also because ideas will come to us every day, and every day we'll enjoy doing new things and experimenting. Playing.”

The return of the Rosetta

“As I said, it saddens me that it’s increasingly difficult to find someone who makes rosettas, a historic and popular bread of Rome,” the chef continues. “It wasn't easy to find one that satisfied me. In the end, I found Enrico Boldrini's bakery on Via dei Genovesi in Trastevere, which makes a nice large one because the rosetta has to be big, and it alone weighs just a hundred grams. So, with Street Fish, I hope to also mark a step for the return of this bread, simple but not easy, popular and at the same time chic for its fragrance, lightness, and the charm it manages to evoke in those who approach it, with its hollow cavity that welcomes the seasonings of a cuisine – Roman – that certainly does not skimp on flavor and sauces.”

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