Saltimbocca alla Romana: the unmistakable Italian taste

Saltimbocca alla Romana (Roman style veal slices) are a typical dish of the Roman cuisine: tasty slices of veal with raw ham and sage with a flavor so good that they jump directly into the mouth!

A quick and appetizing treat: the name probably comes from its unmistakable taste. However, the origin of this dish is even more mysterious: although the Saltimbocca alla Romana has a clear Roman name, according to some it derives from Brescia. 

Anyway it remains one of the most famous dishes of Rome together with Carbonara, also the latter not originating from Rome. It is usually served after a first course of pasta.

Let’s try to find out more.

Saltimbocca alla romana: a bit of history

We talked about the paternity of the saltimbocca alla Romana. According to the great Pellegrino Artusi, mentioned several times in our articles, in his 1891 book “Science in the kitchen and the art of eating well” he tells how he would have eaten the dish for the first time in a famous Roman trattoria, named “Le Venete” and located in via di Campo Marzio. It was a very “in” restaurant at that time, so much that it was also reported by the prestigious scientific, artistic and commercial guide of the city of Rome written by Tito Monaci in 1896.

Mainly for this reason that the saltimbocca are always associated with Rome. Yet, the same Ada Boni in her “The Roman cuisine” of 1930 spoke about this dish as an imported one. Therefore, following her words, just later it took the Roman citizenship. The same thing was said in the book of Uncle Adolfo Giaquinto “Practical Kitchen Manual”.

According to the thesis of the scholar Livio Jannattoni in 1991 the paternity of the saltimbocca was attributed to the Brescians. The latter, in fact, told how they were cooked for the first time in the pre-unification period, in Lombardy-Veneto, in Brescia, between Vicenza and Verona.

Also in this case the Italian cuisine shows how a dish can find space in many different kitchens of different regions. Clearly presenting small variations: there are those who put speck instead of raw ham, chicken slices instead of veal, brandy instead of wine.

Saltimbocca alla romana: the recipe


8 slices raw ham

8 leaves sage

A pair of curls butter

Half glass white wine

00 flour type

a pinch of salt q.b. 

8 slices veal


Preparing time 15 min

Cooking time 5/10 min

Serves 4



The first thing to do to cook the saltimbocca alla romana is to cut the veal fetttine on the edges, which otherwise – due to the thin ribbing that surrounds them – could curl during cooking.

Once this is done, take the slices of cured ham, a seasoned and tasty ham, overlap the slices and cut them into the same size as the slice itself.

Wash the sage leaves and dry them by dabbing them with a cloth, overlap them in the center, on the slice of ham and stop it with the toothpick.

Finally flour the saltimbocca alla Romana on both sides and continue like this with the other saltimbocca.

Once prepared all the saltimbocca alla Romana put a couple of curls of butter to melt in a large skillet, when the butter has melted settle the saltimbocca, putting them on the side without filling.

It is important to remember to salt and pepper the saltimbocca alla romana only from the side without ham for a simple reason: the side with the ham and sage (given the presence of the salami) will be salted accordingly.

After having browned them on both sides, sprinkle with white wine, cook for a few minutes and place them on top, gently removing the toothpicks.

Enjoy your saltimbocca alla romana!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.