Roman breakfast: all types of croissant, explained
If you read this space this far (or even if you haven’t!) you may already be aware that breakfast in Italy (and Rome) is usually a quick affair, on the sweet-side, consisting most times of a coffee-based beverage and a pastry.
However, there isn’t just the one type of pastry at cafes or bakeries, and in the interest of helping you explore this traditional type of sweet, we have listed the main ones in this post as we realized that some of our clients, when in Rome stick to the safe side and only point at croissants. So what are the other ones called and what can you find in them (spoiler alert: lots of different things)? Here are the main types available in all cafes.
- Cornetto (plural: cornetti): An in-depth description is necessary, because there isn’t just the one cornetto. To begin with, cornetto is not the same as croissant, so if there is a tag calling it the latter, know you’re in a French-style café. A cornetto will be always softer and will have more sugar, and it will be offered in many different variations. Said variations will start by differentiate cornetti by those that are vuoti or semplici (meaning they have no filling) and those that are ripieni (cream-filled). Some of the most widely available fillings will include Nutella, custard, various types of jam, although it’s not uncommon finding places offering pistachio-based or almond-based custard. Some cafes will offer savoury cornetti, which can be transformed into simple sandwiches with slices of cheese and ham, or consumed as is. A widely growing trend has even vegan cornetti available, as the traditional recipe includes lard or butter, and these latest arrivals don’t have any in them.
- Saccottino (plural: saccottini). Also called “fagottino“, this is the local version of pain au chocolat, so you already know what you’re getting yourself into: a wonderfully soft sweet roll filled with a chocolate-based custard or chocolate sprinkles mixed in its dough. Some cafes may offer a variation featuring a jam filling or a compote (typically, apple compote) filling.
- Bomba (plural: bombe): similar to a krapfen or jelly doughnut, it’s a deep-fried bun with either a custard or Nutella filling. A less common version offers a jam filling.
- Ciambella (plural: ciambelle): the local doughnut looks bigger than what you’re used to, and it’s deep fried. The dough is the same than the one used with bombe.
- Danese (plural: danesi): you should be familiar with these, as they have traveled long and wide from their native Austria. In Rome you will find a simple version with a custard topping and no glazing.
- Treccia (plural: trecce): soft and creamy, it’s made with the same dough as cornetti but is, as the name suggests, shaped like a tress. The preparation can include ricotta cheese or custard mixed into the dough, and the pastry itself is sprinkled with chocolate.
- Maritozzo (plural: maritozzi): a real traditional pastry in the city, its origin dates back to ancient Rome and it became an actual staple in the Middle Age, when it was offered to brides to be. It’s a simple sweet bun, sometimes with raisins in the dough. As is, it’s usually consumed only before Easter, whereas it is more common to have it filled with fresh cream and eaten on Sundays (although we’re sure some people go for it every day of the week!).
Remember: these are just the main types you can find in regular cafes or at breakfast buffets all over the city! Look out for more types, bakers’ exclusive creations or variations as you visit Rome and keep in mind that other places in Italy may have different pastries for you to taste!