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Jan 18, 2010 05:47 AM

What Foods/Liquors to Bring Home from Rome?

Going to Rome next week. What can I bring back home to New York City for the foodies in my life that they are unlikely to find in NYC?

I will bring home some of the various spice blends sold at Campo di Fiore. Cheeses found only in Italy would be a good idea too.

Spirits (digestifs, aperitifs, e.g.. - not really wines) would be a terrific idea too, if there are things you could recommend that are sold only in Italy.

Thanks in advance -- Chowhound is great!

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  1. Can you bring cheese back? One year i tried and they only let me keep it because they confiscated the vacuum-sealed meat I had tried to bring back to NYC. I have a feeling cheese is not legally allowed.

    As for bottled spirits, I thought the limit was 2 bottles per person, and that would have to be packed in luggage that is checked. Remember, no liquids over 4 oz. (correct?) in a carry-on. And if you are planning on buying at the duty free shops after passing through security, the prices are not very good. Plus the selection is not what it would be at various shops around Italy.

    I may be totally wrong with the information I've provided, but it's what I've always believed true. I would love it if someone can tell us something different!

    6 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      I don't think it's ever been two BOTTLES, more like two LITERS and, yes, in checked bags. I always check the official website just prior to rather than anecdotal. I also don't try to smuggle things in. It is SO not worth it.

      Also DiPalos in NYC has mail order available for a LOT of imported Italian cheeses. Since you wouldn't be able to keep cheese cold in transit probably, that might limit what you can bring.

      1. re: c oliver

        You're absolutely right...my bad. 2 litres; not bottles. Thanks for the correction!

        1. re: ttoommyy

          there is no limit on how much liquor you can bring back, but (1) you have to pay some duty if it exceeds the limit (no big deal) and (2) you cant carry on unless you buy in the duty free shopping after the security barrier.

          Personally I like to bring liqueurs like artisanal nocino, cedro, lemoncello, mirtillo etc. If you are bringing for a baker the red alchermes liqueur could be fun (used in italian baked goods). There is a store across the street from Volpetti Piu where I have bought it in the past.

          Cheese can be brought in as long as they are not aged less than 60 days. Harder cheeses are a better choice than creamy more liquid ones. Also, if cheeses are packed in your checked luggage they will not warm up in transit - just make it one of your final purchases and you will be fine.

          We tend to bring back a bottle of olio nuovo and a big loaf of the best BREAD (in Rome, Genzano, Lariano or similar) we can grab when we can to keep our italian experience going a little bit longer. Other items, depending on the time of year and depending on where you are will be special honeys, like chestnut or the rare and bitter corbezzolo (Volpetti carries this and its great with cheeses). They also have sometimes in winter wonderful torrone from sardinia made with island honeys and studded with nuts.

          BtW I didnt see any particularly special spicesat the Campo Fiori mkt- most of the italian stuff you would see there could be found at Chelsea Market, Coluccio etc in NY.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Good point re paying duty and bringing more.

            And if you carry on more than 4 oz., you arriving US airport has to be your final destination. If you're connecting, then you won't be able to take it onto the next airplane.

        2. re: c oliver

          Good ideas. There have been other threads here about this topic so you might even find more ideas with a search. I will add only that I bought a nice round of smoked provola in Naples on my last morning in the city. Of course, the bag it was packed in did not make it home with me and was lost for more than 24 hours. Final result: The cheese was fine!

          1. re: erica

            Erica, I have been buying smoked scamorza at Coluccios regularly since our first visit to Naples. I would be interested in whether your provola from Naples is better/different. is it cow milk or bufala, do you know?

      2. Limoncello! I was just there and brought back cheeses in my luggage, along with some fine balsamic vinegars and olive oils (took bubble wrap with me).

        1. I usually bring back a vacuum plastic bag of dried porcini. Unbreakable and weightless. Hard to find in the US.

          3 Replies
          1. re: DaleJ

            We bring tporcini too for price and quality - but they are hardly hard to find here in NYC.

            1. re: jen kalb

              JEN: I live in a flyover state.

            2. re: DaleJ

              I brought that back, too - 4 packages!

            3. Thanks everybody. I've been bringing back cheese and liquors (including Alchermes and limoncello) from Europe for years and never had an issue with it. I also tried a search for this topic and couldn't find anything on it so sorry if this is a repeat. And I've brought back spice blends from Campo di Fiore several times that I've not been able to find in NYC (e.g., blends specially marked for meat, or for fish, etc). I go to Chelsea Market all the time (Buona Italia) but I don't know what Coluccios is in NYC.

              Porcini are delcious but I can find that in NYC.

              I've never heard of corbezzolo honey before, so I'm definitely going to look for that. Also Sardinian torrone. And I don't know what cedro is, so I will give that a try too.

              8 Replies
              1. re: josephsm

                cedro is a specialty liqueur made in the area around Lake Garda from the citron (cedro) fruit that grows there. There are several types - this is a nice one you dont need to go to italy to get.


                Like I said, the corbezzolo honey is rather bitter and a good accompaniment to cheeses. with any luck, if you go to a place like Volpetti they will be offering tastes of special products and you can find something new to us all..

                1. re: jen kalb

                  The Nardini cedro is almost impossible to stop sipping, like an eau de vie, but softer.
                  One correction, though. Cedro (or citron) grow almost entirely along La Riviera del Cedro, or the Tyrhhenian coast of Calabria. Like bergamot, another citrus, it's a prized crop. Some Calabrian distillers make cedro liqueurs, too; one is kosher, reflecting the long history of Calabrian citron as the etrog that helps mark Passover.

                  1. re: bob96

                    I agree, the Nardini is very soft and lovely. My daughters particularly scarfed it down., too rapidly There are several varieties of Cedro sold up around Lake Garda - the one we brought home from Gardone (maybe not the best choice of those available) did not match up to the Nardini (from the Veneto) and the flavor which was sort of lemon candy like was not as fresh as the best limoncello.

                    Id like to try some of the Cedro products from the south - do you know if any are imported here or available in Rome or Naples?

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      I've seen but not tasted an Etrog/Cedro liqueur (Kosher) from Bartenura, the fairly well distributed kosher wine and spirits label, at Mt Carmel Wines @ Arthur Avenue. Queen Anne Wines in Teaneck, NJ, lists it on its web site:
                      I've seen other bottlings throughout Calabria (as well as all kind of cedro stuff), but not here. Right now, I'm looking for a good Nocino from Campania, f you know of a source.

                      1. re: bob96

                        Ive not seen any campanian nocinos around in NY. We picked up one of the ECurti nucillo bottlings in Pompeii in 2007 - it was clear, unsweetened and high proof - I think called assoluto - more like grappa than one of the sweet dark versions E Curti also makes. the liquor store on chambers street in Manhattan carries at least one good italian nocino, but not from campania.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Thanks, Jen. Now I think I did see a nocino, ark and presumably spiced and sweet, at Astor. Will check back, and will get down to Chambers St. Incidentally, speaking of digestivi, I heartily recommend Vecchio Amaro del Capo from Vibo Valentia (Calabria), and available at Astor, Garnet, and other places--it's bright, fresh, fragrant, and pure-tasting, less sweet and without the caramel color of other amari. I drink a lot of it, well chilled.

                          1. re: bob96

                            thx for the amaro suggestion!
                            I think the good Nocino at Chambers St. is Aggozzotti from Emilia-Romagna. Liked it better than the California one that some stores carry.

                            1. re: bob96

                              A few years ago we purchased the Nocino della Cristina (http://www.nocino.com/nocino.shtml) by Monteverdi Spirits in Napa CA, from Astor. We were there when the producers were doing a tasting and bought a bottle. It is dark and sweetened. Though we liked it then, I find I never felt the need to go back for another bottle. In fact, we may still have a finger or two left in the bottle at home.

                2. Oh, yes. You discovered Campo di Fiore before you left home. Good for you. I was ignorant of it, and luckily discovered it completely by accident taking my morning walks. As you have now found out, the real "market" is Mon-Fri. Sat. starts the party time in CDF, which is also fun. We stayed 2 blocks away. However, CDF isn't directly viewable from the main street (as far as I know/remember). What a cool place. I actually got a hand smack for picking up a humongous white shrimp with red coloring by an elderly lady seafood vendor. I didn't understand the "red rope". Think Oscars red carpet. What a great experience. josephsm, would love to hear about your trip.