Historic Giggetto trattoria celebrates 100 years in business
ROME – The historic Giggetto al Portico d’Ottavia restaurant in the Jewish ghetto of the Eternal City has celebrated the iconic trattoria’s 100th anniversary with a party attended by journalists and family of the restaurant owners. Students attending the the “Carciofi Masterclass” were hosted at the dazzling event.
The over 300 tables, inside and in the back garden restaurant, were filled with families and guests enjoying wine and menu staples while Owner Claudio Ceccarelli’s wife ventured around to welcome the guests. The evening Monday consisted of a tasting of the restaurant’s most iconic foods, and screening of videos depicting the history not only of the iconic Giggetto, but a broader history of the vibrant Jewish community in Rome within the last century.
Giggetto has been an influential and persevering gastronomic force in Rome since 1923 when it was established. “The secret of Giggetto's longevity: Facing wars, pandemic, financial and energy crises, the owners of the trattoria have always managed to attract the attention of notables, artists, historical figures, especially of ordinary Romans and tourists, making it a place where the past blends harmoniously with the present,” said the owners in a statement. The restaurant took its name from the nickname of its founder Luigi Ceccarelli, grandfather of Claudio. The family are not Jewish but were always made welcome by the Jewish community.
Claudio Ceccarelli, grandson of the original owner, beams with pride while describing his grandparents’ journey of creating the restaurant. He said, “My grandmother could cook very well, my grandfather came from Ciociaria and was a great wine connoisseur. They combined their two strengths and skills and devoted themselves to traditional dishes and Jewish-Roman cuisine. At that time there were so many taverns here in the Ghetto, but we stood out for both good food and good wine. After a century we try to do that still despite the challenges we face.”
Throughout the evening, two videos played in a beautiful patio room. The videos depicted the owners of the restaurant telling their story, juxtaposed with the tragic history of the removal of Jews from Rome by the Nazis and Fascist Italian police during the Holocaust. The videos, touching and exciting, detailed the experience of the Ceccarelli’s beginnings. The same “magic formula” that the original Ceccarellis used for the Giggetto continues to be what makes the trattoria so successful. The family states that this magic consists of having the owner’s presence 7 days a week, loyal staff, treated like family, attention to product quality, and above all, respect for tradition, always using their grandparents’ recipes.
The restaurants most popular dishes are the fried fiori di zucca, and the typical and incredible Carciofi, or artichokes, a staple in roman cuisine. The event’s menu consisted of these two Roman along with fried baccala cod fish and other seafood, pretzels, suppli. The foods represented the kosher influence on Roman street cuisine, and as explained by the videos, a kind of food both humble and delicious, that was consumed in the Jewish ghetto since its beginnings. It was a celebration of the most influential cuisine coming from the restaurant over the 100 years since its foundation.
The liveliness of the night and tastiness of the food was juxtaposed by flashing pictures of the evacuation of Jews by Nazis 1940, a grim reminder to not only third but second-generation Jewish people in Rome of the anti-semitic past.
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