The history of the Jews in Rome stretches back more than 2,000 uninterrupted years, making theirs the oldest community outside of ancient Judea (and predating both the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Diaspora). Through the centuries, the community has been shaped by both the creative and determined people who have lived there and vast periods of unthinkable discrimination and hardship. But out of strife grew a resilient, deeply knit community and a beguiling cuisine. The community is so long-standing that its traditions evolved alongside, and often overlapped with, Roman traditions. From a culinary perspective, it can be a challenge to untangle which dishes are prepared “alla Giudia” (Jewish style), and which are “alla Romana” (Roman style). In many cases, in fact, they are one and the same.
On an early research deep dive for this cookbook, I stumbled across a New York Times article from 1986 that described Lattanzi, an Italian restaurant located in Manhattan’s theater district with a menu that included Roman Jewish dishes.
“As children we lived near the Ghetto,” said executive chef Paolo Lattanzi in the article, which also included mention of this classic roasted chicken dish. “We didn’t know then that we were eating Jewish food. It was Italian, Roman, the food of my city, and it was very good.”
Lattanzi is still thriving today from its perch on New York City’s historic Restaurant Row. Perfumed with garlic and rosemary and sitting atop potatoes that turn creamy and flavorful in the oven, this dish is similarly timeless.
Recipe reprinted with permission from “Portico: Cooking and Feasting in Rome’s Jewish Kitchen” by Leah Koenig. Published by W. W. Norton & Company; August 29, 2023.
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 medium garlic cloves, 2 minced, and 8 smashed and peeled
- 1 ½ Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary + 4 rosemary sprigs
- 1 packed tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 ½ lb/680 g), peeled, halved and cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges
- 4 lb (1.8 kg) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed
- ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine or chicken broth
- chopped fresh flat leaf parsley for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Whisk together the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Arrange the potatoes, the whole, smashed garlic cloves and the rosemary sprigs in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Drizzle with about half of the olive oil-rosemary mixture and toss well with tongs or your hands to coat.
- Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the potatoes. Brush the chicken evenly with the remaining olive oil mixture, then add the wine to the roasting pan, taking care to pour it around the chicken, not over the top.
- Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Spoon some of the pan juices over top, gently stir the potatoes (lifting up the chicken pieces as necessary) to facilitate even cooking, and continue roasting until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is well browned and cooked through, another 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parsley if desired.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Entree
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: Basics