Volpetti is one of those names that comes up a lot when you are searching for the hot food spots in Rome. In the Lonely Planet guide book, there are actually two places called Volpetti. One of them is in the heart of the city where you would most likely find yourself as a tourist. This is not the one you want to go to. The Volpetti that gets rave reviews from all the foodies on various internet chat boards is located in Testaccio, just beyond the area of Rome that most tourists inhabit. For those of you familiar with Boston, I would describe this place as the Formaggio of Rome. Or, perhaps, it's the other way around.
It's not a sit down restaurant (although they do have a cafe that is open for lunch. I'll get to that below). It is, instead, a purveyor of high quality cured meats, cheeses, breads, olives, and other assorted goods.
While this place certainly sees its fair share of tourists, they make there living off of local patronage, and everything they carry is of the highest quality.
We spent a bit of time trying out bites of various things and attempting to communicate in English (which the man behind the counter didn't really know), Italian (which we didn't know), and Spanish (which turned out to be our happy common ground).
We went in to the shop hoping to get supplies for a little picnic, and the friendly man behind the counter (below) did a fantastic job upselling us on just about everything. We're glad we went with his suggestions, though, because everything was fantastic.We were able to try several different types of prosciutto that blow away anything that you can get back here in the states. Sample there various cured meat if you stop by here. If you happen to be vegetarian, I would still recommend coming here. The single best thing that we tried here was from their artichoke bar. No place does artichokes better than Rome, and this place may just have the best artichokes in Rome. There are a number of different types of artichoke to choose from. Our man at Volpetti recommend what he described as the strongest ones. I have no idea how they were prepared, but they were, without a doubt, the best artichokes I have ever tried.