Food is invariably one of the great pleasures of a visit to Rome. In foodie destinations, we often enroll in a cooking class, but this time we decided to take three. The classes were a fun way to spend time with some local chefs, as well as meet some fellow travelers. And in all of them, we learned some helpful tips.
Each of the options below are suitable for the amateur chef, but at least a bit of cooking experience, such as knowing basic knife skills, would be useful.
Our “Italian Sunday Lunch Class” ($110 per person) had to be moved to Monday, which meant assembling produce at the Campo de’ Fiori market, rather than at a less touristy weekly farmers market nearby. Even so, the experience was great fun. Davide, our guide and chef, started things off on the right foot, leading us to a stall for an olive oil tasting. We collected ingredients at a cheesemonger and butcher just off the square and finished at the Campo de’ Fiori’s center at one of the produce stands.
Davide led us up through the Piazza Navona to InRome’s teaching kitchens, housed in a historic building with high, colorfully painted ceilings. Our little group took over the smaller of the two kitchens, where we learned to make panna cotta (easier than one might think) and individual eggplant Parmesan cups. Then it was time for pasta. We each made some dough from scratch, with Davide showing us how to properly mix, knead and shape it. We eventually created some beautiful golden fettuccine, which Davide served with a light and delicious sauce of caramelized onion, chanterelles and Parmesan. It was bested only by some veal saltimbocca — another surprisingly simple dish — accompanied by rosemary roasted potatoes.
The four-and-a-half-hour class was delightful, lubricated by complimentary Prosecco and wine. And it felt personalized, since we shared our teacher with just one other couple.
Note that InRome Cooking also organizes full-day classes at Castel Gandolfo, the pope’s summer residence.
Tel. (39) 06-6880-5375
Like InRome, Fabiolous started our cooking class at the Campo de’ Fiori market. Flaminia and her assistant led us, along with one other couple, to a produce stand, followed by a stop at the same butcher used by InRome. After going to a different cheese shop — I love how many cheese shops can manage to stay in business within such a short radius — we sampled a range of sausages. Our last shopping stop was a fragrant bakery, where Flaminia purchased some snacks.
From there we walked to the Tiber Island, where Fabiolous has a stylish cross-vaulted event space and teaching kitchen that we had entirely to ourselves. I started by peeling some peaches — a first for this lazy chef — and soaking them in white wine and sugar for our refreshing dessert. Meanwhile, Flaminia started sautéing some zucchini for our ravioli fillings. As in our InRome class, we each made our own batch of pasta dough. But this time, we made three kinds, with various ratios of white and semolina flours, destined to become gnocchi in an amatriciana (tomato, onion and bacon) sauce, fettuccine in fresh pesto sauce and ravioli stuffed with zucchini and ricotta in a sage-and-butter sauce.
As we worked, we took breaks to nibble from the tempting plate of salumi and white pizza that Flaminia’s assistant had artfully arranged — accompanied by glasses of wine, of course. Once everything was prepped, we students sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labors.
Flaminia was a very personable teacher, joking around with us and posing gamely for photos. As long as it’s not an issue to pay the $120 fee with cash or PayPal — credit cards are not accepted — the class is a memorable experience.
Fabiolous Cooking Day
Tel. (39) 06-4547-8766
The cooking class we took at casual Su’Ghetto differed from the ones above, in that it was conducted substantially in the restaurant’s working kitchen. Kosher Su’Ghetto opened in 2016 in the former Jewish Ghetto of Rome, which remains a center of Jewish life in the city. Since the restaurant serves meat, no dairy products enter the premises (you’ll find those at Ba’Ghetto Milky, a few doors down).
Cooking classes, limited to a maximum of six people, take place at 11 a.m. or 4 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and we ended up having a private tutorial. The charming Ottavio helped translate instructions from Manny, the restaurant’s chef, whose English was more limited. Sitting at a table in the ground-floor dining room, we trimmed artichokes to make the famous carciofi alla giudia. After frying them twice, we ate the artichokes immediately, enjoying the potato chip-like leaves and tender hearts. We also didn’t wait to feast on some chicken cutlets, pounded flat and served in a rosemary-spiked red wine sauce.
Other dishes we had to wait to enjoy. We prepared potato-based gnocchi from scratch, as well as some olive oil-fried zucchini, which we tossed with fresh basil, parsley, salt, vinegar and more oil. While the gnocchi rested and the zucchini marinated, we had a stroll in the neighborhood, wandering over to the semi-ruined Portico of Octavia and the immense Theatre of Marcellus.
When we returned, Ottavio sat us at a table on Su’Ghetto’s inviting patio (in cold weather, the dining room in the ancient cellar, which has walls inset with Corinthian capitals and chunks of fluted columns, is an atmospheric alternative). He brought out our delectable zucchini, as well as some eggplant with red pepper and raisins, and some boiled artichoke hearts. Next came the gnocchi, served in a rich lamb ragù that had been simmering for hours. We finished with slices of creamy torte that no one would ever guess was dairy-free.
Considering the vast quantity of delicious food we consumed and that our class was private, the $110-per-person price was a fantastic value. Whether you keep kosher or not, a cooking class at Su’Ghetto feels like an insider experience, and you’re bound to have a good time.
Via del Portico d’Ottavia 1C. Tel. (39) 06-6880-5605