Tag Archives: suppli

Pizza and beer at La Gatta Mangiona, Monteverde Nuovo, Rome

Tscho! beer at La Gatta Mangiona

When, just over two years ago, we moved to Rome, and specifically just-outside-the-city-walls west Rome, we soon heard about La Gatta Mangiona. This pizzeria in Monteverde Nuovo (Gianicolense), the neighbourhood adjactent to our Monteverde Vecchio, was recommended as one of Rome’s best.

So we went. And were kinda disappointed.

Despite the inventive toppings (alongside classics) created by the renowned owner Giancarlo Casa (at it since 1973) and his staff, and the dough reportedly made with a lievito madre (sourdough starter) and long-fermentation, the pizza was flabby, the service somewhat indifferent. The experts over at The Rome Digest did, earlier this year, highlight the issue of the place’s inconsistency. Then another Rome food expert, Rachel Roddy, went recently and told us that not only was the food good, but there was also an excellent beer menu. I don’t remember the latter from our previous visit – so either it didn’t exist, or you had to be sufficiently in the know to ask specially to see if.

This time, we were in the know, and went with some other beer enthusiast friends. And overall, the experience was much better.

I wouldn’t say it was the best pizza I’ve had, but it was still delicious, the beer menu is indeed great, and the suppli were among the best I’ve tried in Rome.

Suppli at La Gatta Mangiona

I love suppli, Rome’s delectable deep-fried rice-and-mozzarella balls, but many are pretty average, and probably not even made on premises. La Gatta Mangiona’s, however, were clearly hand-made, clearly freshly made, and they even do suppli-of-the-day. Though they don’t exactly seem to be seasonal. We went in September, way outside spring’s asparagus season, but they had suppli made with them and saffron. The other suppli-of-the-day was sausage and cream; Fran says “Mmmm, it was delicious.”

I just had a classic suppli, made with tomato risotto. It was a decent size, slightly wonky, crisp, well-seasoned and perfectly cooked, with the mozzarella inside forming strings as it should. Yum. My pizza, meanwhile, was one of their specials, and was called “Four Onions”. Along with the onion frenzy, it also featured tomato, vaguely picante sardines, olives and flakes of salty pecorino.

Generally I’m from the school of thought that simplest, least cluttered pizzas are the best (and indeed we’ve got Italian friends who only ever eat Margherita), but this was great. Not as good as the suppli, but still great. Clearly, I was so excited to get started on it I failed to take even one in-focus photograph. Doh. (Check out Gillian’s Lists here for some excellent photos of Gatta Mangiona’s wares.)

4 cipolle pizza

Now, the beer. Being out with two Italians, one other Englishman and one Canadese, we didn’t demolish beer after beer as we might have done had we been out with solely boozy Brits, but we did try a couple from the menu. This menu is indeed extensive and far better than any other pizza place. Even Trastevere’s entertaining but kinda overrated Bir & Fud (geddit?) doesn’t have much beer by comparison, though they do have taps. Most pizzerie, including the great, bargain options Da Remo (Testaccio) and Ai Marmi (Trastevere) meanwhile, just offer wine or crappy industrial lager.

You can find La Gatta Mangiona’s beer and whisky menu from their site (click ‘Carta delle birre e dei distillati’ – a PDF; not entirely the same as the photocopy they gave us). The beers are divided into wheat beers, then light and dark beers of low, medium and high ABV (from 3.5 to 10.8). Clearly La Gatta Mangiona takes its beer very seriously.

As I’d previously written about Calibro 5, a beer made with Kölsch that is designed to go well with pizza, it seemed suitable to have another beer made with the same yeast and in a similar style. This was the unpronounceable Tschö! from Maltovio brewery in Campania –that is, the region with Naples as its capital. (I’ll be talking about Naples again in the next post, as we’ve just been there.) Maltovio’s site can be found here. I really hope the photos are tongue-in-cheek. They remind me of comedy duo Armstrong and Miller‘s sketches about catalogue models in their natural habitat (sadly, I cannot find video snippets online).

This was a very straightforward beer, with some aroma of grass and hay, a blonde, murky body and a simple taste, with some slight citrus touches and a dry mouth-feel. Indeed, it probably would have been a perfect accompaniment to pizza, but between the six of us we finished it quickly while we were eating our antipasti.

Grado Plato's Spoon River at La Gatta Mangiona

The second beer we had was Spoon River from Grado Plato brewery in the Piemont (Piedmont) region of northwestern Italy. The fact that it’s called Spoon River and not Fiume di cucchiaio fits in with this being in the style of a English bitter, or at least that’s what the Guida alle birre d’Italia 2013 (Italian Beer Guide 2013) says. Spoon River’s own site says it’s an amber ale that’s also (like Kölsch beers) good to “accompagnare a tutto pasto i piatti più svariati dai primi alle carni” – “accompany all meals, everything from primi (pasta, risotto etc) to meats.”

Its smell brought to mind toffee apples – so caramel malt and fruity. It’s got a medium body and yes, a very malty taste too, with some lasting bitterness.

I wish we’d tried more, but that’ll have to wait until next time.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the name, a gatta is a female cat, and a mangiona is a glutton. So the Greedy Lady Cat. For want of a better word for a female cat. Why don’t we have a name for a female cat in English? If a male is a Tom (well, an intact male), what’s the equivalent? Some suggestions are a Queen, or a Molly, or a Dam, though these terms aren’t in common usage, especially for non-pedigrees. The Gluttonous Dam sounds nice though.

Info
Via Federico Ozanam 30-32, 00152 Rome, Italy
+39 06 534 6702 | lagattamangiona.com
Open from 19.45 to 23.30; closed Monday

Maltovio brewery
maltovivo.it

Grado Plato brewery
gradoplato.it

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Filed under Ale, beer, Pizza, Restaurants etc

Turan Neos APA with suppli

suppli and Neos on windowsill 2

Sunday evening, our chum Cameron made a delicious tomato risotto. She made what’s known in the vernacular as a “shit ton” of the stuff, but that’s good. We’re in Rome. And in Rome, when you’ve got leftover risotto you make suppli. So on Monday we did. I’ve mentioned the Roman love of fried goodies before. Suppli have got to be the best though. Deepfried risotto croquettes with a heart of melty mozzarella. What’s not to like?

You can use plain risotto, or a fancy flavoured risotto, depending on what leftovers you have, but generally it’s risotto rice with tomato, at least round these ’ere parts. Said leftover risotto is made into a ball, a piece of mozzarella is stuffed in the middle, then the whole lot is rolled in flour, then dipped in beaten egg, then rolled in breadcrumbs or pangrattato (toasted/dried crumbs). Then deepfried – long enough to melt the mozzarella so that when you eat it, it forms a string. Apparently this recalls the curly telephone cable of yore, before wireless handsets and mobile phones and all that newfangled stuff and the full name is suppli al telefono.

Me and Cameron learned to make them while working in the kitchens of the American Academy in Rome. They can be a bit fiddly, as it can be a bit messy making sticky balls and dipping them in egg. Frankly, I’ve no idea how one keeps one’s hands clean making them, despite how much I was shouted at by Academy chefs. At the Academy, we used an icecream scoop to make the balls, but even then you had to do all that dipping. There was a video (featuring Mr Bonci), but the link’s dead now. There, they made a point of wetting their hands first. They even made a pastella – a batter – to roll the balls in, combing egg, flour and water. Might try that next time, though even they’re getting messy. In this video (Italian, but subtitled in English), he just uses flour then egg, and does manage to keep the whole thing nice and tidy. Practice I guess.

Still, having said all that about messiness, our suppli were the best I’ve had. A delicious risotto, with plenty of garlic and a subtle chili heat, and some lovely breadcrumbs from my own bread, all fried until golden brown in hot sunflower oil and then eaten with Neos American pale ale (APA) from Turan brewery in Lazio (in Montefiascone, north of Viterbo to be exact). Yum. I’d bought the Neos for a ridiculous price at the slightly ridiculous middle-class food emporium that is Eataly and been waiting for a special occasion to crack it open. Cameron had recently revealed she’d OD’d on APAs, coming from their heartlands of California, but I’m still loving them, or at least the Italian take on APA. Over here, one connoisseur writing in English and certainly more knowledgeable than me is quite sniffy about a Neos he had, draft, at Baladin bar, calling it “kind of boring,” but the bottled one we had was delicious.

Fougass, Neos and suppli (unfried)

It’s a dark amber ale, with a medium head that dissipates fairly quickly (thankfully, given that I’m often rushing and pouring badly trying to get the right photo…). Me and Fran enjoy malty beers (indeed, she’s a stout and porter kinda girl generally), so the fact that this is a fairly malted beer with strong flavour of caramellised, or even slightly burnt, sugar is good. Any sweetness is balanced by a subtle hoppiness and a medium-light body, making it a decent ale to accompany food. Fried food. Deepfried, cheesy food. Perhaps the bottled version differs to the version the guy had at Baladin.

Talking of Baladin, and boring beers, we also had a few slightly disappointing beers at Open Baladin bar on Saturday. I’d been looking forward to some golden ale (with fond memories of things like Fuller’s Honey Dew – my gateway beer on the path to enjoying real beer) so was happy to see Baladin had a few listed in their menu. I tried Cortigiana (4.6%) from Birra del Borgo in Lazio, then Gold One (5.2%), from Baladin’s own brewery in Piedmonte and found both slightly weak and watery, more than like a lager or pils than a more full-bodied summer ale. They were fine, just a little underwhelming.

Baladin golden ales

Similarly underwhelming was FluviAle’s Golden Ale, at Porto Fluviale bar in Ostiense a few days previously. Though I don’t think I’ll be returning to Porto Fluvial for a while as the beer they served my friend Rachel, a Terminal, was terrible. It was very flat but worse it just tasted musty. When we complained the waitress said it was because it was hand-pumped. Hand-pumping might explain a lack of effevesence, sure, but not the mustiness. When my wife had another drink that also tasted musty, it put me off the place completely. Guys – there’s something mouldering in your system. Clean your pipes!

So yes, the best beer experience I’ve had the past week-ish, was definitely the one involving a  bottle of Neos and home-made suppli, served with a tasty tomato chutney.

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Filed under Ale, beer, Other food