You can almost always smell Biscottificio Innocenti before you see it. The cookie shop is tucked away down a quiet Trastevere street but the aroma of freshly baked sweets is enough to draw you down the cobblestone lane, away from the busy hubbub of the rest of the neighborhood.
There are cookies and then there are cookies from Biscottificio Innocenti, and those are completely different things. I rarely get excited about biscotti, but I will go out of my way for a treat from Innocenti.
One of the secrets behind these fabulous cookies is the massive vintage oven that dominates the simple bakery. The oven is from the 1950s, and its long conveyor belt keeps the baking cookies heated to a perfect temperature as they slowly travel the 16 meters (52 feet) that the oven stretches. It is a beautiful machine, and you can’t help but admire it in the center of the shop.
The oven really does steal the show, with the cookies themselves displayed more against the windows then really flaunted in cases inside the shop.
The second secret to the cookies is Stefania, the third-generation baker to run this family shop. Biscottificio Innocenti was founded by her grandfather, inherited by her parents and now her own to manage and carry on the tradition.
The recipes, passed down and improved, are perfect. The biscotti (filled with hazelnuts, dipped in chocolate, or covered in jam and almonds) are truly the best I have ever had. I find Italian cookies to be generally underwhelming, but these are the exception to the rule – bursting with flavor with that oh-so-delicious crumble.
The brutti ma buoni (ugly but good) are particularly beloved, and you will see ecstatic school children skipping into the bakery with their parents in the afternoon, searching for a treat.
While biscotti are the specialty, there are also homemade crackers for a savorier snack. The crostata (sweet marmalade pies) are also prized throughout the city.
I should probably clarify that “biscotti” in Italian means “cookies” and does not only refer to those hard slices of thick cookies often served with coffee in other countries – though Biscottificio Innocenti has those, too.
Even if you don’t know the names of the cookie, you can point, and select a mix that is bagged up by Stefania before being placed on a vintage scale. The cookies are €17 per kilo (2.2 pounds) so a small selection of sweets will cost a couple of euro.
Pop in for an afternoon pick-me-up and you’ll be happy you did. This timeless cookie shop is a dying breed in Rome.
Long live Biscottificio Innocenti.
Via della Luce, 21
Rome, Italy (Trastevere)
Open: Monday – Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm and Sunday from 9:30 am – 2 pm.