Maritozzo Rome: the capital’s favourite cream bun
Curious foodies probably shouldn’t leave Rome without trying a maritozzo, a cream-filled bun which is equally rich in history. Similar to a cream bun in the British tradition, made from a soft, sweet dough that is sliced in half and piped full of whipped cream, it’s a popular breakfast pastry in Rome with a disarmingly romantic past. The singular is maritozzo and the plural, maritozzi (we know you’re going to need to order more than one!)
Maritozzi & Rome: a 200 year love affair
The name maritozzo is derived from the Italian word for husband, marito. These sweet pastries – which were common all over Rome for centuries – became associated with the courting ritual in the 1800s. According to traditions, a Roman suitor would give his sweetheart a cream bun or maritozzo on March 1 – and if he was ready to pop the question, there might even be a ring inside! Ready to break your tooth over a complicated mating ritual? Yee-no.
Happily, maritozzi today tend to contain only the good stuff. There has been a movement in recent years to switch up on the sweet focus – the classic maritozzo in Rome contains whipped cream, while the bun is a basic brioche mix with sugar and sometimes candied fruit.
But today, select restaurants, bars and pastry stores have added savoury maritozzi to their menus, fashioning some wonderful creations which either start with a creamy filling such as creme fraiche or ricotta before adding fish meat and vegetables to the mix, or go straight for the savoury pasta sauce-type fillings.
There’s something for everyone in Rome’s rich maritozzo culture, so read on to find out where you should be trying your first maritozzo in Rome!
Mari Maritozzi in Rome’s Monti district
Mari Maritozzi is a new maritozzo specialist in Rome’s Monti district, and it’s a great place to try your first maritozzo! As the name suggests, this picture-perfect street food vendor has decided to specialise entirely in maritozzi. Options include 20 sweet and savoury regular fillings, plus daily specials.
Owner of Mari Maritozzi Pulika Calzini has formulated a special recipe for his savoury maritozzo creations. They have considerably less sugar and no icing. A little sugar is required in the mix to help them rise. Monti-born and bred Pulika describes the maritozzo as ‘the perfect container for both sweet and savoury creations’ and I really enjoyed my tasting journey here. The mini sized savoury maritozzi at Mari Maritozzi start at €3.00 with the large ones ranging from €4-€4.50.
I started by tasty a selection of mini savoury maritozzi at Mari Maritozzi. As you can see, even the small varieties still make considerably impressive bites! Above, I got stuck into the fresh and light Greco (feta cheese mousse, tomoato, cucumber, origano and kalamata olives) and Venezia (whipped baccalà, shallots and pink pepper. They were both incredible but I think the second one was my favourite.
These other mini maritozzi from the savoury selection all delighted in their own way. Clockwise from left, Marchigiano, with spreadable ciauscolo salami, stracchino cheese and rocket; a delicious special of the day with hummus and chorizo; and Romolo, with coda alla vaccinara sauce.
This vegan maritozzo was a wonderful surprise. Made with a vegan-formulated bun, the filling included cashew-nut ‘cheese’ and beetroot vegan mayo. So tasty! (Note as well the excellent selection of craft beers. The disposable cups are compostable).
I still had room for two more savoury maritozzi (I know, I know) so I plumped for a couple of options from the Mari sushi menu. These included taramasalata and mango, plus a tasty goats cheese mousse with spirulina and trout eggs. Very good.
I couldn’t leave Mari Maritozzi without trying something from their sweet counter. Nanni is naughtily filled with an artisan chocolate spread. My favourite, Ottavia, is firmly in the Roman tradition, filled with lightly sweetened ricotta and sweet black cherries. Perfect!
Mari Maritozzi offers catering for parties as well as multi-buy specials. 10 mini maritozzi (6 savoury and 4 sweet) come in at a reasonable €20. As a quick lunch, 2 large maritozzi plus a beer or soft drink are priced at €10. Highly recommended!
Mari Maritozzi | Via Urbana 31 | Roma | Tel 0039 0678312842
Linari – Maritozzi in Testaccio
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know (a) that I live in the Roman neighbourhood of Testaccio, and (b) that my go-to Testaccio coffee bar, breakfast spot and confectioner is local legend Linari. Here, maritozzi are consumed for breakfast with coffee (yes, dunking is allowed, as is scraping off some cream with a spoon to top your espresso!). These home baked beauties are the size of your hand and cost a very reasonable
€2. A great dive into the Roman maritozzo tradition, when in Rome!
Bar Linari | Via Nicola Zabaglia 9 | Roma | Tel 0039 06 578 2358
Madeiterraneo – Maritozzi in downtown Rome
Fancy trying a super deluxe maritozzo in Rome? Of course you do! The glamorous rooftop restaurant and bar at upscale department La Rinascente in Via Tritone is the answer. Here, at Michelin-starred chef Riccardo di Giacinto’s casual dining side-project, Madeiterraneo & Up Sunset Bar, exquisite savoury and sweet maritozzi feature on the creative, modern menu.
This particular example combines creamy burrata and sun-blushed tomatoes, set off by di Giacinto’s signature maritozz’Oro bun mix. Maritozzi cost €6 here and also include a chicken salad version, while the dessert menu tempts with a Sacher Torte maritozzo, as well as a creme caramel and banana brulee special.
Apart from offering artful creations, Madeiterraneo & Up Sunset Bar are one of Testaccina’s top recommendations for rooftop bars in Rome. It’s a simply unique spot!
Madeiterraneo | Via del Tritone 61 | Roma | Tel 0039 06 6992 2284
Maritozzo Rosso – Maritozzi in Trastevere
Il Maritozzo Rosso Bistrot is a restaurant in Rome’s Trastevere district, revisiting some classics of Roman cuisine in fun, informal surroundings. As the name might suggest, this is also a great place to try a maritozzo when in Rome.
Il Maritozzo Rosso leads with savoury versions of these moreish buns, made from scratch by the restaurant. I tried all four options on the menu, pictured above. Clockwise from top right, they are filled with: baccala, orange slices and radicchio; chicken curry with refried greens: Sicilian caponata: and stracciatella and anchovies.
You can order small, ‘aperitivo’ sized buns (as we did above) for around €4 or full sized ones – which are frankly, big enough for a lunch – and which range in price from €6-€8. These are excellent value and make a great lunch or aperitivo option if you’re in the area. Of course, as you might expect, sweet versions are available too – such as the luscious tiramisu maritozzo.
Il Maritozzo Rosso also has a much broader menu offering a range of intriguing dishes, so if this has whet your appetite, check out my full review here.
Il Maritozzo Rosso | Vicolo del Cedro 26 | Roma | Tel 0039 065817363
Il Maritozzaro – Maritozzi at Porta Portese
Humble bar Il Maritozzaro has been associated with maritozzi in Rome for over five decades, making it the real godfather of maritozzi in the city. Located near Trastevere Station and the stalls of Porta Portese market, it is very much a locals’ hangout. Accordingly, don’t expect glamorous surroundings or exceptional service: here, you come for the bun. These cream-filled babies are available round the clock for a reassuring
€2, and many Romans still swear that this is the original and best place to eat a maritozzo.
Il Maritozzaro | Via Ettore Rolli 50 | Tel 0039 347 217 5214
While the recommendations above represent five of my favourites places to eat maritozzi in Rome, there are actually lots of great spots you can try this Roman classic. I have heard good things both about Pasticceria Regoli on Piazza Vittorio and Cafe Merenda in the Marconi district. So go forth and try maritozzi – and let me know how you get on!