Although Italy is plentifully populated by porkers, maiale, or pork, makes a very timid appearance at Roman restaurant tables. You will find the familiar giambone braise al Madera (ham braised in Madeira wine) at the better restaurants, and if you crave a pork chop, it will be listed as braciola di maiale alla griglia. The famous raw cured ham, prosciutto, is by far the pig's finest contribution to Roman gastronomy.
Lamb is exceedingly popular in Rome when it is small enough to be called abbacchio. In its later years, when it is known as agnello, it seems to lose its acclaim, except in the form of lamb chops, costolette di agnello alla griglia, which are tender and savory.
The dependable polio, or chicken, provides Roman chefs with some of their most successful dishes. Polio alla diavola is simply a broiled chicken, brushed with olive oil and seasoned with dried red pepper flakes, then pointed up with chopped onion and parsley. Sometimes it is served with a piquant sauce. This dish is absolutely famous in Rome and obtains star billing in most restaurants. Polio alla romana con peperoni is a delicious casserole dish. Petti di pollo alla Cardinale are tender chicken breasts saut�ed with a rich Cardinal sauce—a favorite on many dining terraces.
Roman chefs roast chicken livers on skewers between slices of prosciutto and leaves of sage, calling them fegatini di polio alla salvia. They make a handsome pilaff di polio al curry, the classic curry of chicken with rice, and of course, the dish so well known in America, polio alla cacciatora. They'll even make you chicken croquettes, crocchette di polio, and, as a final gesture of Italo-American friendship, insalata di polio all' americana, good old chicken salad.
Turkey is tacchino, and, as noted, Roman cooks concoct one of their subtlest delicacies from the breasts of plump, tender brids. These filetti di tacchino dorati are a triple-starred feature in many a top Roman restaurant. They are frequently served with peas or mushrooms, or sprinkled with wafers of sliced Piedmontese truffles.
As for salads, in Rome you will find insalata verde in every restaurant and trattoria. A great favorite is insalata capricciosa, a mixed salad which, as its name implies, often depends upon the caprice of the mixer. Besides greens and tomatoes, it often contains black olives, strips of ham, fragments of tuna fish, much like our chef's salad or the French salade ni�oise.
The tempting platter of assorted cheeses which the Roman waiter will place before you borrows heavily from neighboring regions, particularly Lombardy, which is famous for its Stracchino, Gorgonzola and Bel Paese. From the Alpine valley of Aosta comes Fontina cheese, soft and golden. The best mozzarella hails from Naples. Most Roman cheeses do not appear on the platter. Pecorino romano, the ewe's-milk cheese, is grated to make a flavorful topping for pasta and soups. Ricotta romana forms the base of a very palatable cheesecake. Other Roman cheeses are Provola and Caciotta. If you are planning to taste some of the finer wines of Italy, the cheese course is a good place for the ceremony.
Fruit-lovers should be ecstatic in Rome next summer. Magnificent Italian pere (pears), pesche (peaches), albicocche (apricots) and uva (grapes) reach their peak of perfection in August, as do many varieties of melon. You will see stands everywhere in Rome piled high with imposing fruit including banane (bananas), fichi (fresh figs), aranci (oranges) and ananas (pineapples).