The shop is the product of enduring passion. Two competent and adventurous young Umbrians, Renzo Fantucci and Valentino Belli, joined forces in 1980 to take over an old Rome delicatessen not far from the Vatican with the objective to pioneer a mission: provide the eternal city with prime quality and forgotten products. Passion drove them to start the business and passion is the leitmotif that is at the core of their store, “La Tradizione” which literally means ‘tradition’.
Success is immediate: La Tradizione quickly becomes – and remains over the years – a solid reference and meeting point for cooking professionals, gourmands and food experts, not only for sourcing prime cheese, but all manner of ricercatezze, Italian for refined, rare products. Francesco Praticò and Stefano Lobina, have inherited the reins and are now behind the counter at La Tradizione, having trained for a decade under the gentle guidance of Renzo and Valentino.
La Tradizione shop stocks over 600 cheeses among Italian, French, British and hailing from the rest of the world, with glorious types made with goat, cow and sheep’s milk, stellar blues displayed in a beautiful dome-shaped case, plus rare cheeses aged by the owners in caves and barrels. And as soon as a product on sale verges towards more industrial methods, La Tradizione drops it in favor of the more artisanal, forgotten, unique.
That’s not all, calling La Tradizione merely a cheesemonger is reductive: the quantity and quality of the cured meats sold here are just as mind-blowing. There are around 400 types sourced at Italy’s and Spain’s best meat-curing artisans. There are 12 kinds of prosciutto alone on sale, aged between 24 and 36 months… Culatello, mortadella, salami of every kind, sausages, capocollo, lonza and that’s only in the pork category. Mocetta, bresaola and other curing methods apply to beef, wild boar, venison, wild game and the list goes on…
Wine connoisseurs will also find an exclusive selection of bottles of red, white and bubbles at La Tradizione, with a good choice of Italian craft beers too.
Like every Italian salumeria, La Tradizione also sells a handsome selection of regional breads, artisanal hand-stretched pastas, including the stuffed kind like ravioli, tortellini and so on. There are splendid extra virgin olive oils from the entire circumnavigated Peninsula, from Liguria to Sicily; there are jarred tomatoes, pickled goods, bottled sauces and other culinary treasures. And if you’re lazy and want to pick up quiche, vitello tonnato–one of the best in Rome–shrimp salad or any other seasonal gourmet preparation cooked fresh that day, you can do that at the gastronomia section.
La Tradizione’s next step to provide the city with more top quality fermented dairy, cured meats and gourmet products was obviously to open a bistro. And that’s exactly what Francesco and Stefano, along with chef Antonio Bonamini and a team of valid helpers are doing in late September. The enoteca-meets-bistro restaurant “Secondo Tradizione” will be located just around the corner from the shop, on Via Rialto. After launching, the calendar will feature guided tastings, theme dinners revolving around select products, plus other tasty events. Stay tuned here for news on the exact opening day!
Interested in visiting shops like La Tradizione with the rare opportunity of tasting their products, speaking with the people behind the counter and learning through their expertise about the varied world of Italian gastronomy? Check out our neighborhood food explorations on our website.
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.