Imagine my surprise when I was back in the States with Ale about 6 months ago, and we were walking through a shopping mall and spotted an outfit titled something along the lines of “Bubble Tea.” BUBBLE Tea? What the heck?! I have to admit though, after six visits to the States, Ale is now well-versed in the fine art of ordering any type of fast food or drink—something that was quite complicated the first time out. That would be six years ago at Subway, when the “sandwich artist” left his poor Roman head spinning while asking his choice in everything from bread type, to meats, veggies, doyouwantacombo, potato chip flavor, wantacookie?, and soda flavor (“Shelley, what does Dr. Pepper taste like?”). Now no longer a newbie to the bewildering array of choices we face on a minute-by-minute basis in the States, at the Bubble Tea place, when kindly asked by the guy at the register if he wanted to “add bubbles,” Ale happily responded, “Sure! Why not?” and was then asked what flavor of bubbles he wanted. Meanwhile, I was the one who had to smile, feeling like an alien that had landed from another planet. “You want to add bubbles? What did you just order, anyways?”
All of this as a preface testifying to the fact that I know the juice bar/health drink market in the United States and elsewhere has moved far beyond the humble establishment I’m going to introduce you to today. At Pascucci’s, you won’t find anything like bee-pollen powder extract or ginseng to add to your choice. But what you will find is a genuine milkshake/smoothie bar which I think just might be one-of-a-kind here in Rome.
I was first introduced to Bar Frullati Pascucci in the chill of winter 2001, when Ale took me there for my first-ever Italian hot chocolate. Rich and sweet, it was like chocolate soup, and I found the decor, trapped circa 1960, quite charming in its own time-warp sort of way. I might have noticed the row of blenders, still not knowing exactly what purpose they served, but months later I would find out.
Pascucci’s speciality is fruit shakes, what I formerly knew as “smoothies” but now know as “frullati.” You get to choose from their recipes, or invent your own. They have a nice selection of fresh fruit, from kiwi to banana, berries to peaches and pineapple.
Most of the frullati cost around €2 or so. They add all the fresh fruit for your recipe, some mysterious smoothie liquid, some ice, and throw it in a blender. When the place gets hopping, all six blenders are whipping up an assortment of frullati while the barista skillfully pours them out into tall glasses with stems, reminiscent of a 50s-era soda fountain. If you’re really on the go, you can ask for “da portar via” and they’ll pour it in to a paper cup for you to take away.
Here were our choices from the other day when we stopped in—Misto Amalfi and Monterosa:
Misto Amalfi is apparently some sort of secret recipe. An Italian blogger here declares to have discovered the ingredients (apple, banana, lemon, orange, raspberry) after having consulted various secret services from around the world. I didn’t pay attention enough to watch as the fruit was being scooped into the blender.
My choice, the Monterosa (on the right), is much less mysterious: cherries and milk. It’s like a delicious, creamy version of Strawberry Quik. If it’s your first time in, you might want to try the “Misto della Casa,” or “House Blend,” which I used to be stuck on for a long time. It comes with whipped cream and fresh berries on top.
So, let’s all raise our glasses in a well-deserved toast to the mythical Pascucci: purveyors of fine frullati since 1937.
Pascucci Frullati, Via di Torre Argentina 20 (just behind the Feltrinelli)