` Only Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Rome's Forno Campo de’ Fiori - Olive Oil Times

Only Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Rome's Forno Campo de’ Fiori

Mar. 16, 2011
Lucy Vivante

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The Forno Campo de’ Fiori uses between twenty-five and thirty liters of extra vir­gin olive oil a day. It’s mainly used for the pizza, but also for pane all’o­lio, ciambelline al vino, casta­gnac­cio, and for sand­wiches. Pizza bianca is by far the biggest seller at this pop­u­lar forno. The excel­lent qual­ity of the olive oil is key to the excel­lence of the pizza.

I’m Marchigian. Most bak­ers in Rome are from the Marche. A rosci­olo is a kind of fish which evi­dently my ances­tors liked a lot,” says Fabrizio Roscioli owner of the Forno Campo de’ Fiori. He, together with a cousin, owns the enor­mously pop­u­lar bak­ery that was started by his father and uncle. In the 1950s his uncle intro­duced sliced bread from America and achieved cer­tain fame for this in Rome. A few streets away, on Via dei Chiavari, there is another Roscioli bak­ery. It’s called the Antico Forno Marco Roscioli and belongs to a dif­fer­ent branch of the fam­ily.

What is known in Rome as pizza bianca, or white pizza, is called focac­cia” in other parts of Italy and the world. Customers who mean to bring the pizza bianca home invari­ably find them­selves pulling warm­ing pieces from the bag. The forno also makes piz­zas which gen­er­ally fea­ture one or two ingre­di­ents. There’s a pizza rossa which has a thin film of brightly fla­vored tomato purée with­out cheese. There are oth­ers with tomato and cheese, or pro­sciutto, or pota­toes, or egg­plant, or zuc­chini, or mush­rooms. One of the most deli­cious and beau­ti­ful to look at is made with zuc­chini flow­ers, which have been cut length­wise and opened flat, and then arranged on the dough with anchovy pieces, cheese and extra vir­gin olive oil.

The veg­eta­bles are sliced very thinly and set raw on the dough before being put in the oven. Large and loaded paint­brushes are used to spat­ter the piz­zas with extra vir­gin olive oil. It is applied to the pizza bianca both before and after its time in the oven. The bak­ers work in stream­lined and rhyth­mic motion, faster than the machines they work with.

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Roscioli buys the extra vir­gin olive oil from the Coop Olivicola di Canino, a coop­er­a­tive with 130 mem­bers in Canino, a town about two hours north of Rome on the Tyrrhenian side. The oil has a grassy taste. The canino cul­ti­var, close to indige­nous to the area, pro­duces a small and late olive. It’s late fruit­ing pro­tects it some­what from the scourge of the olive fly, and from the need for pes­ti­cides. Rosicioli uses 5‑liter tins at the bak­ery and sells the DOP ver­sion in bot­tles at the bak­ery.

Gina Simonovic makes the sand­wiches for the shop. Olive oil and salt go on many types of sand­wiches; in much the same way may­on­naise might in other parts of the world. A pro­sciutto and cheese panino would not need any oil since it has enough fat. When we vis­ited, Simonovic made frit­tata for the sand­wiches. She made two frit­tatas, one with arti­chokes and the other with spinach. The ingre­di­ents were: the cooked veg­etable, eggs, extra vir­gin olive oil, milk, flour, salt, and addi­tional olive oil for the pan. Gina said that the flour was added to keep the frit­tata in good shape for a few hours, but for a frit­tata that would be eaten imme­di­ately, say at home, it was­n’t nec­es­sary.

Like bak­eries every­where, this forno pro­duces tra­di­tional breads and baked goods to fol­low the feast days and sea­sons. Roasted and salted almonds are a sta­ple of bak­eries in Italy. Fortunately these are avail­able through­out the year. The forno spe­cial­izes in won­der­ful almond paste cook­ies, some­times with pine nuts on top, and some­times with orange rind or cher­ries inside. Fabrizio Roscioli likes to high­light the fact that the sweets are based on taste more than visual appeal.

The bak­ery occu­pies two sep­a­rate ground floor spaces on the piazza, strad­dling Via dei Cappellari. The place is eas­ily spot­ted at lunchtime when peo­ple are lin­ing up for pizza and then hap­pily eat­ing it warm from brown paper pack­ets. Little chil­dren are given a thin strip of pizza to eat as par­ents order. Roscioli says that his father started this tra­di­tion thirty years ago.

The forno keeps tra­di­tional hours, open­ing in the morn­ing, clos­ing after lunch, to reopen in the late after­noon until din­ner time. The Campo de’ Fiori is a hot spot for young peo­ple until way into the early morn­ing, and the forno could stay open, but Roscioli chooses to forgo sell­ing to the drink-happy hordes.

While we were look­ing around the bak­ery and try­ing to keep out of the way of the very busy and intent employ­ees, a cou­ple of them wanted to know if we were ask­ing ques­tions for our own bak­ing busi­ness. Bakers from all over the world come to visit Roscioli and his staff of 22 bak­ers, cooks, and counter work­ers. Mark Lahey of the famed Sullivan Street bak­ery in NYC learned to make pizza from Roscioli. Most recently Roscioli has been con­sult­ing with Farinella, also in NYC, and with Spianata in London.

Forno Campo De’ Fiori
Campo de’ Fiori, 22
Vicolo del Gallo, 14
00186 Rome, Italy
tel. (+39) 06 688 06 662

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