Best of Rome: Dolci

Bringing Home Rome, Cook, Learn, Primers, Regional Spotlight

If you kept a close eye on a Roman’s eating habits, from the first cornetto in the morning to the last cioccolatino in the evening, you  might come away with a new understanding of the words “Mediterranean diet.” Every religious holiday and season — indeed, nearly every hour of the day — has its own special dolce.



These Sicilian sweets are made from wafers rolled to form large tubes, fried, and then filled with lightly sweetened ricotta. The wafer, called scorza, or “rind,” contains cocoa and marsala wine in addition to butter, eggs and flour.



Castagna (chestnut) flour, sugar, olive oil, raisins, pine nuts and rosemary go into this dense, flat cake, which is more of a snack than a dessert. The sweet is usually prepared in fall and winter, when the nuts are harvested and milled.



Cappuccino and cornetto are the ritual way to start the Roman day, preferable in a busy bar. The shape of the Roman cornetto (corno means “horn”) resembles a croissant, but it’s usually smaller and can be filled with jam for a sweet version or prosciutto for a savory one.


These chewy, diamond-shaped cookies are now found in different versions throughout Italy, but they originated in Lazio. The ingredients are flour, egg whites, honey, nuts, citrus rind and candied and dried fruits. Some contemporary versions may include cocoa or chocolate.






Ciambelline al Vino 

Almost anything round can be called a ciambella, from a doughnut to a life preserver, so the name tells us that these classic biscotti are going to be small and ring-shaped.


Romans love new places to put ricotta. These delicacies, usually associated with Campania, are made by cutting and layering thin sheets of pastry, which are filled with a creamy combination of ricotta nd semolina.

Crostata di Frutta 

A thick crust of short pastry and a layer of preserved or fresh fruit are all it takes to assemble one of the most popular, and most flexible, of all Roman dolci. Not traditionally a dessert, the crostata is properly eaten as a between-meal snack, often in the late afternoon.







This delicious nut-and-fruit cake is commonly made with a rich combination of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, dried figs, candied citron, orange rind and spices. It’s not so much a dessert as something to be enjoyed with coffee or sweet wine.






Diavoletti al Peperoncino 

This cocoa-covered tablet tastes like a chocolate truffle — with a kick from chile that arrives several seconds after the voluptuous filling starts to melt in the mouth. The name, “little devils,” refers to the piquancy of the pepper.

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