Gnocchi alla Romana (Roman Gnocchi) – Those Romans Do It Again

Roman GnocchiAs I wrote in the title of this post, the Romans do it again… and again… and again. Roman cuisine is one of our favorites and Rome is one of our favorite cities to visit and eat in. This dish, gnocchi alla romana, is a dish that reminds me how versatile, creative and (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again) simple Roman cooking can be.

Traditional methods of making gnocchi are some of the oldest ways to prepare food – the first noted recipe dates back to the 13th century. The original gnocchi were made with flour and water and had more of a consistency to pasta. It is possible that gnocchi actually pre-date pasta. These days, any “gnocchi” made with flour and water are called pasta, while gnocchi will be a dumpling made with anything else. The most well-known and traditional ingredient is the potato. Have you ever wondered why some people specify their gnocchi as “potato gnocchi“? Well, that’s the reason. Gnocchi does not exclusively mean using potato. Also, the shape of gnocchi also changes in Italy from region to region. Which brings me to my dish – Roman Gnocchi. The Romans put their own spin on gnocchi by using semolina in lieu of potato, by cutting them into larger ‘discs’ and baking the dish. Originally this type of gnocchi was made using crustless bread. Those delicious Romans also add plenty of eggs, cheese and butter to the dish to make it seem like it would taste pretty heavy but, believe me, it tastes weirdly light at the same time. Ok, ok, so traditionally there should be about a half of pound of butter and cheese as the topping. Seriously, guys, it tastes weirdly light! Much lighter than a bowl of traditional potato gnocchi.

Roman GnocchiGive this easy and different type of gnocchi a try. I’m sure it would be a conversation starter if you made it for friends. You could make different toppings (pesto, meat sauce, etc.) and pair it with roasted vegetables or an arugula salad to make it more of a balanced meal. Whatever you do, give it a try – but maybe wait till the summer is over in order to blast up that oven.


Ingredients (**Note: We used less butter and cream in our dish because we were feeling like fat asses – it still turned out delicious. If you’re feeling thin, adding the extra butter and cream to the topping will create a delicious and fattening sauce.)

  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 egg plus 2 yolks
  • 1/3 cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

For topping:

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup grated parmigiano


  1. Rub butter in a baking tin to grease.
  2. Beat together butter, parmigiano and egg/egg yolks and season with nutmeg and salt and set aside.
  3. Heat milk in a large saucepan. When milk is boiling, turn heat down and pour in semolina while stirring. Make sure you pour in a slow and steady stream.
  4. Increase heat again to medium. Cook until milk has been absorbed and mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan in one mass (about 6 to 10 minutes).
  5. Remove semolina from heat and beat in the butter/parmigiano/egg mixture. When smooth, spoon mixture into baking tin – spread evenly in the pan. Use a knife or a spatula if necessary. The semolina should be about 2 inches thick. Set aside to cool for 1/2 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease another baking dish. Remove cooled semolina from other dish (it should slip out if properly greased) and place on counter/board. Using a cookie cutter or 3 inch-diameter juice glass (or whatever else that is about 3 inches wide and circular) cut semolina slices.
  7. Arrange these slices slightly overlapping in your newly greased baking pan.
  8. Make the topping by blending the butter and cream and pour over the unbaked gnocchi. Sprinkle parmigiano on top.
  9. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Feel free to put under the broiler for 3 minutes to make top extra-crispy.
  10. Roman Gnocchi

Check out some other Roman-cuisine themed posts you might enjoy:

34 thoughts on “Gnocchi alla Romana (Roman Gnocchi) – Those Romans Do It Again

  1. This is totally off topic, but I just wanted to thank you for putting up one of those Music widgets in your sidebar. I was just browsing thought and yours reminded me about Buena Vista Social Club. I’m listening to it now, and it’s great. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Que bueno, chicos!!!!! You know I never made Gnocchi before? Ah, and your recipe looks so easy and the pictures say cómeme!!!! I’m trying it for sure, no matter the cheese… wanna try this one 😀

  3. I had authentic home-made gnocchi in Rome when I had dinner in someone’s home as part of the Home Food program sponsored by the University of Bologna. It was an interesting evening, culturally and gastronomically, and her gnocchi looked just like yours! Isn’t the aroma almost as good as the taste?! Here’s the website if any of your readers are traveling to Rome:

  4. Wow. These look really delicious. I’m a huge fan of gnocchi.

    My infamous cabinet overstock includes a bag of semolina. You have given me a good way to use it.

    You guys just inspire me all over the place sometimes!

  5. I would never have thought to use semolina – what a nice idea! I usually stick with a starchy root vegetable. This is a must-try. I will run longer for the butter.

  6. I never knew you could bake gnocchi. (I guess you can bake whatever you like!). I am now not afraid to make gnocchi. The thought of glue like potato dumplings never appealed to me. This method is simple and beautiful.
    What time can we come over for dinner?

  7. hey guys! thanks for all the comments. i wish i could invite you all over for dinner! and joan, interesting that the gnocchi looked like these in bologna! i’ll have to see if this dish is regional to that area, but also i wonder if she just cut her version that way. i’m learning more and more about ‘gnocchi’ and there are so, SO many different types. it’s exciting to attempt to try all of them.

  8. Thanks for the info on gnocchi. I never knew that the potato gnocchi, just one kind of gnocchi, usurping the name! Wants to be metonymic, I guess. LOL

    This looks a fantastic dish and have to try this soon. I think we still have a bag of semolina in the pantry so I know where that’s going. Delicious!

  9. Amy – Rome is wonderful for all the reasons you stated. I love this recipe and may make this again soon. Thanks for the thorough overview on how to make this – a well done job here.


  10. Guys, these look stunning! Vegetarian husband made fresh gnocchi recently, but I think something along the lines of this would have been far tastier (hope he doesn’t see this comment)…Will get him to try this next time.

  11. i mean, i knew i was in the company of greatness, just having met you, amy, but seriously? your blog is ridiculous. i am honored to have been included at the same event as you, let alone the same table. my goodness! i’m totally blown away. i’m really excited to have met you and to have discovered a fun new blog and recipe for gnocchi. gnocchi is my 3rd favorite pasta, behind cavatelli and orecchiette. oh man, how is it that i could possibly be craving this dish right now after the monstrosity that was my dinner tonight?! keep in touch. i will have to lure my dinner club to brooklyn next month! -m

  12. This looks ridiculously delicious. I really love, love, love gnocchi alla romana and your version is a knock-out. I love your food sooo much! Can i move in with you guys!? C’mon… I promise i’ll behave! 🙂

    1. @Zemira: give it a try with rice semolina and let us know how it goes. You could probably also use finely ground cornmeal too – masa harina can be found at most Latin American markets in the US, and some larger grocery stores. Alternatively, you could run polenta through your food processor until it’s finer.

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