Feb 8, 2009

A sweet little pastry shop downtown

Usually looking in the window of an Italian pasticceria or cake shop is to feel one's fillings twinge and one's heart lift; but not here. The inconspicuous entry to the Pasticceria Cinque Lune is for connoisseurs only. A small door, covered by a minimalist brown awning beckons only the experts to enter and relish their sweet destiny within.

The Italian Sunday tradition is all about keeping it lazy, lax and leisurely. This means waking up not too early, calmly reading the entire paper cover to cover, and eating breakfast in bed. For some, going to morning Mass, for others taking a stroll in the Centro Storico. One activity common to all however is making a stop at the local pastry shop and picking up the mandatory “paste” for dessert.
Il pranzo domenicale, the family’s Sunday lunch is a big deal here. Much more so than dinner, which usually is a piping hot cup of broth, a glass of bold red wine and not much else. Lunch on Sunday means getting the family around the table and making it a habitual and cheerful gathering: lots of great food, laughter and conversation, kids vaulting about high on excessive doses of sugars, grown-ups catching up on mutual work week endeavors, gossip, etc. The meal usually is structured in the typical 5-element menu: antipasto, a pasta or risotto dish, a protein main course of meat, poultry or fish, a vegetable side dish (or more than one, if the cook is in the mood), and dessert.
And this is where the requisite 11am stop at the pasticceria comes into play. Today the narrow retail section of the Pasticceria delle Cinque Lune was jam-packed to full capacity. Blame it on the midday sun that gave us Romans a breather from a solid week of rain, or perhaps the aroma of the freshly baked typical Carnevale specialties frappe, castagnole and zeppole emanating from the tiny pastry workshop and wafting into the streets. We had to fight our way to the head of the confused line to get our kilo of assorted goodies.
Pastries are sold by weight, dusted with extra confectioner’s sugar and wrapped in the trademark red paper and gold twine. E scoffed 2 deep-fried zeppole on the go while we chatted with la Signora Anzuini at the cash register, noticing how he had grown since Christmas, when she last saw him.

Pasticceria Cinque Lune infact also makes excellent 100% certified organic panettone, pandoro, torrone and other traditional Roman festive sweets, like pangiallo Romano, ricciarelli, pampepato and panforte. At Easter, the pasticceria confects decorated chocolate eggs of all sizes and cocoa content, each holding a little gift-wrapped surprise within its polished haves. This should come as no surprise, the “Five Moons” after all boasts its fourth generation of pasticceri artisans since its founder Salvatore Anzuini opened shop in 1902, so besides interesting German pastries like Krantz, Stollen or a fantastic semi-sweet braided breakfast bread, Claudio Anzuini and his team bake mouthwatering custom-made birthday cakes, monumental Mont Blancs, tarts of all types – the best being of course crostata di visciole – Sacher torte and the establishment’s signature "antichi romani," an ancient Roman recipe for crumpled puff pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese, honey and poppy seeds. Not to mention the pasticceria mignon: bite-sized versions of the above mentioned cakes, classic pastries, sfoglaitelle, fruit tartlets and more.

My mother’s abundant Sunday fares pacified our appetite and prized our gluttonous nature. The Carnevale pastries from Cinque Lune escalated our blood-sugar levels through the roof. At least until next Sunday.

Pasticceria Cinque Lune
Corso Rinascimento, 89
00186 Roma
Tel. +39 06 68801005

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