My memories of Gargani go way back, and are – like most impacting childhood recollections – powerfully connected to sensorial stimuli.
Walking in, the smell of cured meats, cheese and fresh pasta was overwhelming. I remember how back then, Gargani seemed like an enormous cathedral. Obviously in the eyes of a child it did appear spacious, when in fact this salumeria (a store selling culinary delicacies) is a long and narrow shop, surely not a large one. One particularly busy shopping day around Christmas time, when my mom and I were there for last minute grocery grabbing, I remember briefly “getting lost” amidst ladies with furs and pirouetting salespersons, in the bustling space occupied by the customers. From that day on, hand firmly clasped in my mother’s, I negotiated the cue at Gargani with the utmost respect (and a residual smidgen of terror).
The Gargani gourmet shop is a very well-known and trusted Parioli institution. The posh northeast Rome neighborhood is upscale and extensive, with elegant turn-of-the-century architecture, acres of green parks, countless embassies, and a number of distinguished museums. Parioli is safe, quiet, beautiful and graced by few yet indispensable food and wine meccas. Gargani has been one such place for the last 50 years.
The storefront of the boutique grocer consists of two opposite entrances in addition to two large street-side windows: heaps of golden tortellini, nests of coiled tagliatelle, mountains of potato and semolina gnocchi of every size and color, and other stuffed pastas like cannelloni, rotoli, ravioli and agnolotti, all occupy the central window. The adjoining window display showcases instead cakes, biscotti, chocolate salami, French champagne, rare chocolates, pastries, Nutella and marmalade tarts, and numerous other exquisite confections. When the calendar nears the holidays, it’s all a flurry of artisan panettone and pandoro, torrone and other Christmas treats; while around Easter, an abundance of chocolate eggs of every size, cheese breads, colomba and pastiera cakes take up much of the window display real estate.
Inside, wall-to-wall delectables include salumi and charcuterie, regional and French cheeses, bottled sauces, olive oils, rare balsamic vinegars, and prepared dishes such as baby shrimp cocktails served in avocado halves, rice-stuffed tomatoes, and succulent sliced roast beef, sold by weight. Gargani also stocks a great variety of very good breads, plus Scottish smoked salmon, pâtés and terrines, Russian caviar, mozzarella di bufala, British jams and other rare goodies. Marketed under the Gargani brand is also a delicious and moist ciambellone (a sort of extra-rich pound cake) made with a gazillion eggs, and marbled with chocolate.
Gargani caters and provides home delivery. It also has a small but good wine selection. Prices are steep, but quality is proportionate. Impossible to find parking nearby. A plus is their outdoor seating at lunchtime on the veranda, which is always crowded with office workers whose plates spill over with steaming pasta, couscous salad or some other daily complete meal special.
Viale Parioli 36 – Tel. +39 06 8078264
Open Mon – Sat 9:00 – 19:00
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.