Salame Piccante and People Watching: Lunch Rush in Trastevere

Though I first became a fond visitor to Compagnia del Pane for their energetic atmosphere, salted Nutella cookies, and free Wi-Fi, I soon learned the real attraction was just behind the deli counter.

Normally just in search of caffeine and a place to write, I returned one day for lunch. One bite and I realized this was why I should have been coming all along. While a ‘cappuccino freddo’ and cookies to feed my Nutella needs were great, the store was named Compagnia del Pane for a reason. Incredible artisan breads crafted into made-to-order sandwiches put Subway to shame.

In search of great sandwiches since my arrival in Rome, I’m constantly looking for establishments which manage to make the same simple ingredients (tomato, mozzeralla, prosciutto or salami) somehow superior. At CDP it’s no secret that freshness is at the heart of its simple, standout offerings. While CDP has evolved considerably in its 80 plus year history, left unchanged is its focus on selecting and producing the best ingredients. Such attention to detail shows in the rows of meats and cheeses lined up for sandwich making and sliced before you as you select/drool over them.

50 plus types of made-daily breads line the walls, overflowing during the morning coffee rush and dwindling as the day carriers on. Selecting focaccia, spicy salami, and fresh mozzarella plucked straight from the water and sliced before me, I questioned if I would ever be able to go back to cold cuts and Sargento cheese. As if the quality and freshness of cheese and meat weren’t enough to make this sandwich absurdly delicious, the bread, baked with generous amounts of olive oil and salt on top, eliminated any need for condiments on the sandwich itself.

At four euros and twenty cents for the large sandwich, it’s safe to say Compagnia del Pane gives ‘$5 footlong” a new meaning. A good sandwich is welcome any day, but perhaps most fun was sitting at the communal tables and watching the lunch rush. Young button down-clad business men, elderly couples, mothers picking their children up from school—it was a chic cafeteria inviting you to eat alongside urban Trastevere. There’s something comfortable about sitting alongside them, eating a simple lunch, and trying to decipher their rapid-fire Italian.

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