Chestnut Season in Rome

Written by Katie Parla on November 5, 2010

When I moved to Rome, I had a loose concept of what foods were in season when. I knew tomatoes and corn were best in August and chestnuts should roast on an open fire in the fall and winter. I was surprised to find said chestnuts being roasted in Piazza di Spagna almost year round (let me tell you there is nothing more vile than walking though a cloud of chesnut exhaust in July). But I digress, we are now legitimately in chestnut season and there are a bunch of places in Rome where I love to eat (or drink!) things that use this ingredient. Here are the highlights:

Roscioli’s castagnaccio: A flat, dense cake made from chestnut flour. This hearty autumnal peasant food is deceptively substantial. It is sold by the slice from trays at Via dei Chiavari, 34.

Settimio al Pellegrino’s Montblanc: This old school trattoria serves lots of things that I like, but their Montblanc is something that I love. It is a cloying (I mean this in a positive sense) mountain of whipped cream with meringue folded in, topped with chestnut paste and marron glace’. Settimio is located at Via del Pellegrino, 117.

Ciampini’s marron glace’ gelato: In the wintertime, gelato isn’t the first dessert that I crave. Except for Ciampini’s candied chestnut gelato. The creamy, smooth ice cream is studded with bits of marron glace’ and is perhaps their most perfect flavor. Ciampini is located in Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina.

Moriondo e Gariglio’s marron glace’: This historic confections shop makes some of they city’s best (and certainly the most expensive) candied chestnuts (on sale from late November). They are plump, dense, and syrup laden bundles of joy. Moriondo e Gariglio is located at Via di Pie’ di Marmo 21-22. It’s worth noting that La Bottega del Cioccolato on Via Leonina in Monti also produce marron glace’ of similar quality.

Chestnut beer: Italy produces an extraordinary number of chestnut beers–Birra del Borgo’s CastagnAle is among the most famous and easiest to find in Rome. You can find it and others in the city’s beer shops (I recommend Johnny’s Off-license and Domus Birrae) and in the pubs, and restaurants specializing in Italian craft beers (you can read my article for the NYT listing some of these here). MondoBirra did a nice round up of the producers of chestnut beers in Italy which you can find here.

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