Rome is home to the most ancient Jewish community in Western Europe. Originating in 1555, this community has fought through the tough times of WWII, Nazi occupation, and the hardships of living banished from society for over 2,000 years. For nearly half that time, the city’s Jews were also confined by the papacy to four crammed blocks of a slender street in an area of Rome called the Ghetto. But even though the living conditions were difficult (including frequent floods by the Tiber River), the community was able to develop cuisine that remains cherished by the entire population, rooted in the idea of cheap and portable deep fried foods.
The Ghetto period ended in 1870, and the years to follow allowed for the dilapidated housing to be torn down and many Jews relocated. Today a few hundred Jews still live in the Ghetto “zone” but the area has preserved its cultural icon and today remains the heart and soul of Jewish life in Rome. Now a charming and eclectic neighborhood, two synagogues, three Jewish schools, a Jewish museum, and countless Kosher restaurants thrive in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto.
Roman Jewish Cuisine
Known as some of the greatest cuisine in all of Rome, Jewish Kosher foods are a delectable delight to experience. La cucina ebraica romana (Roman Jewish cuisine) is celebrated among many Romans for its mouth-watering carciofi alla guidia (Jewish-style deep fried artichokes), fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers), and aliciotti e indivia (anchovies with endive).
With the famous Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, celebrated in September, Select Italy experts would like to share a list from our Tips for Travelers Database on the top 4 kosher restaurants in Rome.
- Ba Ghetto Milky Via del Portico di Ottavia, 2a- Located in the Ghetto’s main drag, family run by Tripoli Jews, the menu consists of Middle Eastern specialties like falafel, hummus and classic Roman Jewish dishes.
- Kosher Bistrot Via di Santa Maria del Pianto, 68- Located in the Jewish Ghetto just off the Largo Arenula, sandwiches are prepared to dine in or carry out and the restaurant is conveniently open all day.
- La Taverna del Ghetto Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 8- On the main street of the Ghetto, this kosher restaurant is focused on traditional Roman Jewish cuisine. Family run, here you will find fresh pasta, meat dishes and the legendary carciofi alla giudea
- Yotvata Piazza Cenci, 70- On the main plaza of the ghetto, this is a family run restaurant that provides Roman Jewish dishes and also sells kosher cheeses, including mozzarella.
Have you ever been to any of these Kosher restaurants? What did you think?
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.