`Zero Kilometer Olive Oils and More at Rome’s Urbana 47 - Olive Oil Times

Zero Kilometer Olive Oils and More at Rome’s Urbana 47

Feb. 17, 2011
Laura Rose

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Steps away from the Coliseum is the Monti dis­trict of Rome, a neigh­bor­hood ener­gized by its youth­ful, bohemian pop­u­la­tion. It’s here that Angelo Belli opened his inno­v­a­tive zero-kilo­me­ter restau­rant, com­bin­ing all of my favorite things in life”, he says- loca­vore din­ing and his pen­chant for inte­rior design, cre­at­ing a place that is com­pletely Roman yet strongly mod­ern, and thor­oughly pop­u­lar with the locals and trav­el­ing food­ies.

A- Rome’s Urbana 47

Mr. Belli began by pro­vid­ing home deliv­ery of news­pa­pers but a pro­found love of cui­sine pushed him to start deliv­er­ing food prod­ucts in addi­tion, and so he began con­nect­ing with the local milk, veg­etable, and meat farm­ers, as well as wine and oil pro­duc­ers, to find the best ingre­di­ents avail­able in Rome and its sur­round­ing region of Lazio. Urbana 47, his first restau­rant, was a nat­ural con­tin­u­a­tion of the food deliv­ery busi­ness. Adding to his plea­sure with the grotto-like space he was able to fill up with well-picked vin­tage fur­ni­ture that looks like its been recu­per­ated from an old film stu­dio in Rome.

To enter feels like walk­ing into a pri­vate club of expe­ri­enced organic gour­mands. A buf­fet table is spread with a wealth of sea­sonal veg­eta­bles, fresh meats, and var­i­ous small bites that all look entic­ing, with full-size bot­tles of the local Valle Santa extra vir­gin olive oil set around the table for lib­eral addi­tions. This restau­rant has a loyal com­mu­nity of din­ers who are com­mit­ted to its loca­vore prin­ci­ples and astound­ingly deli­cious food pre­pared sim­ply, but tra­di­tion­ally, with the fresh­est organic ingre­di­ents in the region.

Everyone seems to know what they’re doing as they approach the table, point­ing and cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful meals that they take back to their tables to eat. I am con­fused, over­whelmed even, by these intrigu­ing dishes with­out a menu. Luckily the chef guides me to the ceci e bac­cala, chick pea and dried cod soup, a sim­ple dish that turns out to be so incred­i­bly deli­cious that I shame­lessly begged for the recipe. {See the fruit­ful results of my beg­ging below.}

Locavore, or zero-kilo­me­ter eat­ing as it’s referred to here, is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity with food­ies around the world, but in Rome, it’s really the con­tin­u­a­tion of a long­stand­ing and con­tin­u­ous tra­di­tion, updated with a chic décor. The real inno­va­tion is to focus on the local­ity of Roman cui­sine, to enhance it by find­ing organic ingre­di­ents from small, tra­di­tional farms, and to make a strong state­ment out of it.

The chef, Andrea Ometto, has him­self worked in the grand kitchen of New York’s Le Cirque, and his expert hand undoubt­edly boosts these sim­ple dishes to their peak.

In no small star­ring role are the four olive oils of Lazio that each play their par­tic­u­lar part in bring­ing the food to deli­cious life. Mr. Belli’s expert choice of oils earned him a spot in this year’s edi­tion of the Flos Olei” book, a guide to the top olive oil pro­duc­ers and sup­pli­ers in the world.

From the Sabina area north of Rome, he pro­cures Valle Santa oil, a com­plex and fresh-tast­ing oil with a lot of flex­i­bil­ity, and the pri­mary olive oil used at the restau­rant. The Olio di Canino is a bit lighter and offers greater fry­ing capa­bil­ity, while the olives used to pro­duce the best-known oil of the Lazio one region, the Olio di Bolsena, grow on the banks of a nearby lake. Finally, there is the Itrana oil, made purely from Itrana olives, with a strong fla­vor that the chef describes to me as tomato‑y”. No won­der my soup was so good…

With every­thing for sale in the restau­rant, from indus­trial design fur­ni­ture and recov­ered objects, to pack­ages, bot­tles, and bas­kets of the food prod­ucts, includ­ing all four of their prized oils, you can take a piece of the magic home with you. And if you can’t get there, you can have the prod­ucts deliv­ered by Mr. Bellis’ Majior Domus ser­vice, or you can at least recre­ate chef Ometto’s deli­cious soup at home.

Ceci e Baccala, or Chick Pea and Dried Cod Soup


1 bag of dried chick­peas
Sabina extra vir­gin olive oil
Garlic cloves
Fresh rose­mary
Salt and pep­per
Dried salted cod [BaccalA]
Itrana extra vir­gin olive oil
Italian bread

As this recipe was given to me by a true chef, there are, of course, no pre­cise mea­sure­ments and you have to rely on your own eyes and mouth to judge, but it’s a fairly sim­ple recipe and not very dif­fi­cult to repli­cate even wing­ing it on amounts.

Begin by soak­ing chick­peas for 18 hours, then dis­card the water and put chick­peas in a fresh pot of water and boil until soft- about 5 hours.

Blend 80- 90% of the soft­ened chick­peas, leav­ing some on the side to add later as whole beans. Blend with olive oil from Sabina- as much as the chick­peas ask for” accord­ing to the chef.

Roast gar­lic and rose­mary in the oven, then blend in with the mix­ture. Add salt and pep­per.

Before serv­ing, cut cod­fish into bite-size pieces and add to the soup. Remember it’s salty so don’t overdo it. Cook for 3 to 5 min­utes.

Top with Itrana olive oil infused with rose­mary. This can be done either by heat­ing the oil to 60 degrees Celsius for 5 min­utes with the rose­mary in it, and then allow­ing it to slowly cool over the course of 2 hours. Alternatively, you can put some of the oil in a jar with rose­mary and allow it to infuse over sev­eral days., and then you have a lovely jar of rose­mary-infused olive oil to use on all kinds of dishes.

Finally, make crou­tons by cut­ting the bread into ½” cubes, cover with more Itrana oil, salt, and peper­on­cino, and bake until crispy. Top the soup with these imme­di­ately before serv­ing and enjoy it.

Urbana 47
via Urbana 47
00184 Rome

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