You can’t speak of (gastronomic) goodies in Roma, and not start from “lo zozzone” (literally “the big filthy”). Wherever you are at night or dawn, at some point, you will see your zozzone on the horizon, like a mirage.
Zozzone is thousand and one vans spread for Roma selling sandwiches at the most unlikely hours. Until some time ago, “appanage” of the romans, today also of bengalis. Average cost of a sandwich 3 euro. Ability to introduce anything in it.
Known by every roman worthy of respect, and natural fauna’s observation point of the most diverse “roman specimens” – from “il truzzo” (the yobster type) to “il pariolino” (specific inhabitant of the Parioli district, known to be the richest in Roma, reserved in the past to the fascist hierarchs) – about zozzone many words have been said and everyone lines up for its favorite.
Zozzone has always existed, but in the last 20 years has increased, it’s considered more a true “roman night identity” than a specific site with its own address. Actually there’s one, unique and original, after which all the others have sprung until today, that “zozzone” virtually identifies any van or bar bunkering food, such as “kebabbari” (kebab makers), “trattoriacce” (rustic taverns) or any “paninaro” (sandwich makers). The first zozzone of Roma belongs to the Parione district, in the heart of the city. He was called “the filthy”, along Via del Governo Vecchio, today known as a super elegant shopping street. Now it has moved in a parallel street, Via della Pace, where his grandson continues the business, but customers treasures to say that it’s no longer “lo zozzone de ‘na vorta” (of a time…) when “with only 3.000 lire (1.50 euro) you could eating in three and the water was free”. And, above all, now is so cleansed.
About the origin of the name, many conjectures: those who argue that derives from that first zozzone, originally “un benzinaro”, a gas station attendant (in slang), preparing your sandwich with his hands still oiled; those who sustain that derives from sandwiches, and their meat always cooked in a plate pretty greasy, where you can put any “zozzeria” (junk or simply heavy stuff) often contained in tin cans full of oil. (“Oil” is the keyword).
Everyone has his favorite: different kind of meat with cheese slices, mushrooms, peppers, eggplant, mayonnaise, mustard, tabasco sauce… and so on without limit of filling. The sandwich, as you can imagine, at the end is always, extremely, “oozing”. Not surprisingly, the position of a true zozzone’s consumer is standing “at obtuse angle”, a bit more about of 90 degrees, with legs apart, upturned elbows, jaw monstrously wide open. It’s always a nice show.
In any case, it must be said that cleanliness, service and quality, are certainly not at the first place. One could wonder what remains, but, against any stereotype about italians and their obsession for good cookery, the fact is that, to be truly appreciated by the romans, the better zozzone is “the most filthy”, and, at this point, diatribes begins.
Too many zozzone to list them all, but surely the great competition is between “the Porta Maggiore” one and “Giorgione” at Ponte Flaminio. Which is better? Hard to say… Porta Maggiore is the best known, but perhaps Giorgione wins, no other reason except that he just won the best comment.
According to a roman(tic) review from the blog “Zozzoni si frequenta” (the great philosophy behind is that you frequent, you become) Giorgione is better because: “Porta Maggiore’s one in the evening find his truck all ready, only to be supplied from the discount store just downstairs. On the contrary, Giorgione, as a real “lumacona”, the big snail of trash-food, takes his van by himself, each night. But confirming that many things change with time, there’s a “roman DOC” post by “Er Ciriola” (typical nickname from a bread’s type, shaped as a rugby’s ball full of crumb) that, almost like a poem by the old roman poet Trilussa, write: “Ma che ve inventate? Giorgio lo zozzo a Ponte Duca d’Aosta a Johnny Food a Via Luisa di Savoia je porta solo che la borza. Andateve a vede la danza “mahori” der cingalese: manco le sorche de un kilo che sortono fora dar Tevere je la fanno a regge lo zozzume!” (But what are you inventing? Giorgio lo zozzo at Ponte Duca d’Aosta, to Johnny Food in Via Luisa di Savoia, carries the bag (roman saying, who carry bags is inferior). Let’s go to see the “mahori” dance of the ceylonese: even the sewer rats of a pound that come out from the Tevere river are able to withstand the filth!”