…this new year’s resolution is officially alive and well despite a close call.
While exploring another corner of the countryside outside of Rome this weekend, we almost failed to honor it. (A healthy picnic was planned of all things. The horror.) Instead, the temperature was quite a bit colder than expected, the picnic was doomed from the start anyhow (I mean fennel and apples… really?!), and evil hunger pounced before we could locate one of the usually ubiquitous porchetta (roasted pig) trucks for a sandwich.
It didn’t help that the guardia parco (park ranger) of the Riserva Naturale Regionale Nazzano Tevere-Farfa, an avuncular fellow if there ever was one, somehow managed to seamlessly weave a local fauna vs. invasive species discussion in with numerous culinary references about the superiority of local Nazzano fare. Darwin would have been proud.. ? Before we knew it we were walking back to the car to drive to the trattoria he had mentioned. Jedi mind-control tricks no doubt… the picnic be damned.
“Did he just mention the migration of mallards and ragu di castrato (lamb sauce) in the same sentence or am I imagining it? …huh.”
The trattoria was a locals only countryside place if there ever was one. Abutting a concrete pylon supporting the highway someways up the hill, it afforded a nice view of the Tiber river valley below. We entered despite the physics defying nature of the building, consisting of a patchwork of numerous materials, building styles and eras.
Inside there was the usual steamy kitchen run by uber-chef signora (she also ran the till), and her brace of 20-something children ferrying food at lightspeed to the extended families getting together for Sunday pranzo. The average table size was about 15, with cacophonous kids playing pickup games of tag in between. Decor? Think “your nutty aunt meets 1970s garage sale” chic.
And sure enough, the ranger was right… for home-grown Lazio cucina povera (farm cuisine) this was as good as it comes. The polenta was the real deal, the slow cooked type, delicious in both the sausage/ribs variety as well as alla padellaccia (lit. the worthless pan style, ie. a hearty dish of lesser pork cuts).
The antipasto really took the prize however… pizza fritta (fried pizza dough) topped with erbette (chard), verza (cabbage), prosciutto, and (the winner of the day) lardo. Yes, that would be fried pizza topped with lard, buonissimo.
Phew… good thing this new year’s resolution is “Eat more pork.” That was close.
Directions: Sorry, but this is as good as it’s going to get. Pretty much taken from their business card, which by the way says to call them if you have trouble getting there, except the card doesn’t have a phone number on it. Gotta love it.
The restaurant is in the Localita’ Prim’are of Ponzano Romano. If you’re on the Via Tiberina, coming from Nazzano, go through Torrita and then Ponzano Romano too, drive down the long hill. Before the IP gas station at the bottom of the hill, there is a normal looking trattoria/tabaccaio on the left. That is not it. Go another 50 meters, and enter a driveway on the left that leads to a rickety building set back from the road that looks like a wooden shack. That’s it. Park in their yard/field.
If instead you are coming from the A1 Roma-Firenze highway, exit at Ponzano/Soratte and head towards Ponzano. After the IP gas station but before the normal looking trattoria/tabaccaio, there is a driveway on the right that leads to a rickety building set back from the road that looks like a wooden shack. That’s it. Park in their yard/field.