Frullati Pascucci: Smoothies, Italian-style

16 Jul

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Pascucci Frullati, Via di Torre Argentina 20 (just behind the Feltrinelli)

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16 Responses to “Frullati Pascucci: Smoothies, Italian-style”

  1. Sara, Ms. Adventures in Italy July 16, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    My friend Helen took me there and I remember thinking, gosh this place is hidden! Yum, frullati. Who needs Jamba Juice??

  2. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 16, 2007 at 11:17 am #

    Yes, it’s a total hole in the wall, and it’s always busy. I used to work nearby here and would sometimes get a “misto della casa” and a tramezzino for lunch. I had totally forgotten about Jamba Juice!!

  3. jessica in rome July 16, 2007 at 12:36 pm #

    It looks like they are generous with the ice? That is one of my pet peeves if they put like one cube in it. I miss Jamba Juice!

  4. my melange July 16, 2007 at 1:31 pm #

    Look delish! Fruity, cold and refreshing…and it’s hot here…so it looks even better. I also LOVE Jamba Juice!!!

  5. Giulia July 16, 2007 at 2:03 pm #

    I could use one of those right about now as it is soooo hot!

  6. Lisa July 16, 2007 at 3:04 pm #

    mmm they look so good ! i never seen smoothies in italy!!

  7. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 16, 2007 at 3:14 pm #

    Jess: Actually, the ice is like shaved ice and they add it in with the other stuff in the blender. You won’t get ice cubes in the finished product.

    My Melange: It is so hot here today, I’d even go so far as to say it’s the hottest day of the summer yet.

    Giulia: See above!

    Lisa: I haven’t seen them elsewhere either. I mean, you can usually get a frullato in a gelateria, but often it’s not with fresh fruit but rather with fruit-flavored gelato.

  8. nyc/caribbean ragazza July 16, 2007 at 4:52 pm #

    I walked by that place almost everyday and never went in. I will correct that mistake on my next visit.

  9. Dena July 16, 2007 at 5:45 pm #

    How fun. I love smoothies. (In fact, I’m drinking a Jamba Juice right now. too funny) With the heat of summer here, I make my own smoothies a couple of times a week just for a refreshing snack.

  10. Keeneye July 16, 2007 at 5:56 pm #

    (laughing) Do you want bubbles with that?

    Those “bubbles” are funky, aren’t they? I’m still not sure I’m sold on them. Your fresh smoothies look much, much better.

  11. jessica in rome July 16, 2007 at 6:19 pm #

    sorry I meant blended ice. For example, I had a pina colada and there was only like 3 sprinkles of shaved ice on top and the rest of the drink was luke warm. :( I like full on slushie style alla 7/11!

  12. Shelley, At Home in Rome July 16, 2007 at 7:29 pm #

    NYC: Looks like I’m finding all the places you used to walk by. Next time give me a ring and we can stop in here.

    Dena: Yes, you say the “heat of summer” as if it were normal, but I know where you live, girl! And I happen to know that “heat of summer” there = 120°F. Don’t miss that.

    Keeneye: I know, I thought they were so funky. The funniest part to me was how nonchalant Ale was about the whole thing. When they asked him what flavor, he had a flavor all ready. You know, as if he orders “bubbles” all the time. I was laughing my butt off. I’m like, oh, so you do this every day, do you? I ended up feeling like the foreigner!!

    Jess: Now I get what you mean! Well, these are pretty cold. The cherry milk drink isn’t quite as cold as the other ones because I’m not sure if they add ice or just use cold milk. In fact I won’t be getting that on a hot day again, because it wasn’t quite as refreshing as something with just fruit and ice.

  13. Avery July 17, 2007 at 10:53 am #

    Yum! I’ve never seen this place before, and come to think of it i’ve never seen any smoothie type place in Rome but it looks so yummy and refreshing. geez, how hot is it here anyhow? A frullati would totally hit the spot!

  14. somepinkflowers July 17, 2007 at 11:01 am #

    what great photos!

    everything looks so fresh, cool
    and inviting.

    here we still drink smoothies
    by the pint
    and i have no clue
    how many calories i am sucking down.

    usually i don’t care…

    this is health food after all!

    :-)

  15. FinnyKnits July 18, 2007 at 11:45 pm #

    Go ahead and add this to the list, I want to try a frullati – the cherry one. Meanwhile – how ARE you so thin with all this great food everywhere? Que milagro.

  16. Emily November 22, 2007 at 1:54 am #

    Just found your blog – love it!
    Frullati Pascucci is a wonderful place – though it will become a bit of a zoo October-May, as plays lunch & dinner host for the Saint Mary’s College (South Bend, IN) Rome program students. I drank many a frullati while in the program myself in 2000-2001!

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