Love holidays in Rome. A unique sensory experience: SAID - the Old Chocolate Factory
Hands up who, when talking about the Chocolate factory, doesn't think about the wonderful 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, with the amazing Gene Wilder? It obviously is an affectionate association, since the movie has given emotions, it has made many of us dreaming and it is what, slightly differently, the Ancient Chocolate Factory SAID does, created in Rome in far 1923 by Aldo de Mauro. SAID started producing chocolate together with a Swiss company and it became famous, generation after generation, thanks to the heirs who honoured it up to nowadays.
The artisan company SAID stands for Società Anonima Industria Dolci, located in the ancient, popular and student district of San Lorenzo in Rome; a place where the ancient mills of the twentieth century have been transformed into cinemas, nightclubs and suggestive art galleries and where there also are marble cutters, craft shops, glass makers, and bookshops.
In San Lorenzo, there are the typical Roman trattorias proposing the true Roman cuisine and where someone, like precisely SAID, challenges the passing years remaining faithful to its original tradition, continuing to create rigorously by hand chocolate, in many shapes and tastes, original and tasty, in a cosy place where it is produced and sold.
However, care must be taken because the restaurant is located in via Tiburtina, in the middle of the alleys, its appearance is sober and a little hidden behind a shop window, so you could miss it.
Enter SAID - the Ancient Chocolate Factory
As soon as you cross the threshold, you will be captivated by the intense aroma of chocolate in all its variations and the aromas that can be perceived everywhere. Not only the smell, but also the sight gets caught; in front of you, you will actually see shelves sheltered by shop windows with the style of past bakeries, where you will find glass jars filled with every delicacy, tin containers, packages of paper and laceworks.
Not even the packages are casual, since they are studied and renewed at least once a year, using retro-style variants of fabrics, paper and wood.
Know that there, despite honouring the old style, every piece of furniture with a vintage look has undergone a recent renewal, thanks to the founder's grandchildren.
On the walls, there are the molds the company uses to create chocolate and there are, as pieces of furniture, the old machinery used for the production of the mou sauce, in addition to the work table where the caramel was spread to be cooled: it seems like being inside a museum.
Go beyond, and you will see a pretty sitting area where armchairs and sofas seem to directly come from the of middle-class families residences; then you will find spaces dedicated to aperitifs, others to tastings. You will see all kinds of goodness, from mignon, to homemade cakes, to seasonal fruit with chocolate fondue based on tastes, fruit peels, pralines of all kinds: everything is rigorously made of fresh raw materials.
Let yourself get drunk by the scent of chocolate with cinnamon, orange, chilli or Himalayan pink salt.
The staff is discreet and kind, it moves gently in the corners where people taste the products letting themselves be carried away. All around there, fresh plants and flowers decorate the area.
SAID has decided not to produce more candies and sugared almonds to devote itself exclusively to the processing of cocoa, from which it gives rise to more than 60 different types of chocolate, starting from the basic to the more peculiar and exotic and continuing with the preparation of dishes of cuisine reserved for B-SAID, the second place that attracts many people: a sort of bistro restaurant with an open kitchen.
The B-SAID, the second soul of the ancient chocolate factory
Go there with your other half, you won't regret it and you will have a sensory experience you can't even imagine. The lunches offered are for refined palates that will be pampered with rum, dessert liqueurs, jams and cognac, each one enriched with chocolate.
The Bistrot was opened in 2006 after the renovation of the premises and its experimental cuisine is neither heavy nor elaborate, but pleasant and inspired to perfection. The restaurant prepares recipes based on the alchemy of temperatures, created by students of the Sapienza University of Rome: they wrote their graduation thesis about this topic.
If you go there for lunch, you can take advantage of the special menus at a set price (12 euros), in the afternoon you will have a snack with hot chocolate (milk, dark, with cream, with rum, gianduia etc...) and handmade desserts; you can have a good aperitif with cocoa-based cocktails and have dinner ordering "à la carte".
It is possible to taste, for example, Parmigiano flan on a spinaches cream, a polenta pie with cheese on which is spread a flavoured chocolate chip.
Soup lovers can taste one made with carrots, pistachios, ginger and croutons served on an ancient tin; those who love Lasagna will find a white one with artichokes, Provola cheese or Tonnarelli. Those who prefer meat second courses will find them covered by chocolate chips.
At B-SAID, you will also taste a series of wines with national and regional labels or by the glass, to choose according to your preferences.
The highlight of your lunch or romantic dinner will be the dessert: you can choose among tasty Sacher or Caprese cakes, special chocolates, muffins with pine nuts and berries, cheese-cake, donuts with chestnuts, and chocolate salami.
Come to Rome and, among the romantic stops of your trip, include a visit with tasting of Said-the ancient chocolate factory, so you will visit this lovely loft in a slightly New York and minimal style, where everything is as simple and elegant as it used to be.