Niccolini market

carlo marina

icona alimentareicona abbigliamentoThe outdoor market on Via Niccolini in Monteverde Vecchio is one of the oldest neighborhood markets in Rome. Open from Monday to Saturday from 7 until 2, the street is closed to traffic, and stallholders open out their stalls and display their merchandise along the pretty tree lined street. Around 30 stalls cover fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, cheeses and deli items, as well as a couple of stalls with clothing and household items.

A walk through the stalls

Some of the stalls are close to a century old, like the Fishmonger Fuschi, that holds a license thatfuschi dates back to 1926, where the third generation of the family is still selling fish to the Monteverde community. “I have been here for 29 years explains Luigi - with a photo of the owners behind him - but the Fuschi family have been here forever. In recent years our stall has changed very little but those around us have, when I started here there were at least 50 stalls, but many of the older stalls weren’t taken over by the younger generation. It’s a historic market; we have clients who knew the nonna of the owner, and they continue to buy their fish from us”. As we speak there is the too and fro of customers, many who ask young Mimmo to fillet their fish, often leaving a tip for his service.

It’s a pleasant residential neighborhood and the clientele of Via Niccolini look for quality produce, agrees Carlo, who runs his Alimentari stall - cheeses, salumi, fresh bread and other delicatessen items - with his wife Marina. “I have had this stall for 35 years, and my wife joined me when our children left school. My family was in the fresh pasta business, and we distributed to various Roman markets, so when the opportunity to buy this license arose, I grabbed it. The people in this neighborhood look for specialty products and so over the years I have been able to find cheeses like la mozzarella di Gioia del Colle, the Seggiano cheeses made with black sheep’s milk, and the lightly smoked prosciutto di Sauris, from Friuli. Then after many years, our children, now adults, started their own Fresh Pasta production (Pasta all’uovo Agostini), and today here at the market I am happy to stock my family’s fresh pasta. His wife Marina agrees, and tells me about the Covid year, and how business has been held up. “We have been lucky. Many people from the neighborhood have preferred coming here to an open air market, and even to wait in line, rather than going to the supermarket”.

vincenzoVincenzo and Carla, along with their son Alessandro, who have a fruit and vegetable stall at the end of the strip, are of the same opinion. “The business belonged to my wife’s father - explains Vincenzo - but when the opportunity presented itself we took on a second stall so that we could expand into dried fruit, nuts and exotic produce”. Today this side of their double stall has American sweet potatoes, the French Vitelotte purple potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and other produce used in Asian cuisine. The traditional seasonal produce on their other stall travels far fewer kilometers, is all seasonal and local and super fresh. “We buy our produce from a market in the Castelli hills where almost all of the produce is from local growers. Within the market there are a couple of suppliers that bring produce in, for example, apples from the Val di Non in the north of Italy.

Today’s customers demand lots of pre-prepared vegetables, cut minestrone, topped and tailed beans, artichokes ready trimmed. Vincenzo agrees that Covid has not hurt his business. “We were closed for only 10 days during the first lockdown, which gave the market time to reorganize things to allow for social distancing. Obviously we made ourselves available for home delivery, we obtained the necessary permits and today I have to say that we sell more with our home delivery than we do here at the stall. There are still customers that are afraid to go out to do the shopping.

Not all of the stalls are open every day. Some of the farmer’s stalls are open just a couple of days a1 week depending on the season, and the Fishmonger Fuschi is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. “The other days we go to the fish auctions at Santo Stefano, Civitavecchia and Fiumicino. The availability of fish depends on lots of reasons, the season, the weather conditions, and what fleets are out fishing depending on these reasons. If winds are high, for example, the smaller boats won’t be out. Every day we study what the sea has to offer, it takes experience to stock a fish business. One of the reasons to go to the Pescheria Fuschi is the decades of experience they have in the business, stocking a selection that many supermarkets can’t match. At Christmas last year we had a 12 kilo Sea Bass fished direct from local waters, it was a spectacular sight”.

Alice's wonderland

“I am really, really happy. Because I have just heard of a woman who has the same name as me. Butalice because this Alice was born in a country far, far away, her name, actually, our name, is pronounced Alis! I have decided that once in a while I will be called Alis too, it sounds much more beautiful.

This new friend of mum’s has a fantastic job, actually, more than one. She writes recipes for magazines and books and then she calls her photographer friends and they take photos of the dishes. If I hadn’t already decided to be an actress, a singer, a fashion designer and the tailor of my own outfits, I would be tempted by this line of work. Its sounds fantastic, cooking and photographing good things all the time.

Now I can’t wait to meet Alice’s kids and to taste one of her recipes. Even though….I read the recipe she gave mum and I am not sure, I’m not a big fan of broccoli!"

icone ricettaAlice's recipe

Alice Adams Carosi is a self taught cook that works with photographers creating images for books and magazines for both local and international markets. She was born in Melbourne but lives in Rome, and was our guide to the Via Niccolini market, one of her favorites. Have a look at her work

She gave us a recipe for broccoli bread, a savory cake using dark green Sicilian broccoli, parmigiano and lemons.

Plumcake salato con broccoli, limone e parmigiano Broccoli cake with lemon and parmigiano

Ingredients for an approx 20 cm loaf tin
250 g plain flour
7 g baking powder
300 g broccoli – Sicilian or regular dark green broccoli
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
100 ml sunflower oil
120 g natural yogurt
100 g grated Parmigiano Reggiano – Grana Padano – or aged cow’s milk cheese for grating
1 untreated lemon
Ground black pepper

Wash the broccoli and cut off the tough end of the trunk. Break the head into florets, peel and chop the trunk. The tender leaves can be chopped, and the big tougher ones eliminated. Boil the broccoli for 12-14 minutes in lightly salted water until it is nice and soft. Drain really well, the broccoli should be collapsing. (Next time I make this I will try steaming to help retain the B’s and the C’s, would love to hear if anyone tries this).

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Finely grate 100g of Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano or other aged cow’s milk cheese suited to grating. Finely zest an untreated lemon using a fine grater or microplane. Set aside about 10 g of cheese and mix with half the lemon zest and a good grind of pepper, for the top of the cake.

Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into a large bowl or stand mixer, and then add the yogurt, lightly beaten eggs, drained broccoli and then the oil, mixing well to incorporate ingredients. Add the parmigiano and lemon zest and once the batter is evenly mixed pour into a buttered and floured loaf tin. Sprinkle the lemon/parmigiano/pepper mix over the top of the batter and put into the preheated oven.

Cooking time will be around 50-55 minutes, the top should be golden and firm. Use a skewer to test that the centre of the cake is well cooked. Serve warm or at room temp. Will keep happily in an airtight tin for several days.

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio