In the historic San Lorenzo district, in the midst of the lively bars and the comings and goings of university students, there is a place that seems timeless. Hidden in a cross street of Via Tiburtina stands a chocolate factory called SAID that has been open for over 90 years. You shouldn’t expect to find some extravagant Willy Wonka building, though. SAID is far more discreet in its appeal, albeit equally irresistible!
The Società Anonima Industria Dolciumi was founded in 1923 to process foods, and shortly after went on to produce bonbonnières. But it was, finally, transformed into a sweets lover’s paradise. Despite the various changes the business has gone through all these years, there has been a common thread throughout the decades: chocolate in every form!
The wide glass doors lead to the shop area, where you are immediately seduced by an enveloping aroma of cocoa and a splendid display of products. From chocolate bars wrapped in rough paper and tied with string, to tins of chocolate spread and glass jars packed with colored fruit pastels, SAID is a kaleidoscope of continuous temptation. The charm of the shop also lies in its vintage furnishings. The table used for preparing nougat has become the shop counter, and the seats are made from old tin churns that once stored cream. Look around and you’ll see enormous scales, copper molds of every shape and size, and machines for processing chocolate. All of this reminds you that, above all, this is a place for making chocolate by hand, where the confectioners work with passion to produce excellent products.
Apart from the shop, SAID also has a space where you can taste chocolate in all its infinite varieties. You can eat breakfast here, take a coffee break in the afternoon, or sample an aperitif in the evening. You can even come for a romantic dinner or naughty-but-nice after-dinner indulgence. During winter, take the opportunity to plunge into one of the comfortable sofas and breathe in the inebriating scents and flavors of a spicy hot chocolate. During the summer months, take a seat outside on the cool veranda and enjoy a cocktail (inspired by chocolate, of course), or taste the classic, yet whimsical cuisine on the menu. Some of the savory dishes are enriched with ingredients that must be other-worldly, including an intriguing tuna fillet with pistachio and roasted and ground cocoa beans. But, as you would expect in a chocolate factory, it’s the desserts that steal the show. It’s almost impossible to choose between the decadent sweets. Will you go for a gluten-free fondant or a fresh fruit mix accompanied by a fondue made with whichever chocolate you prefer? Or perhaps you’re tempted by one of the tarts, cakes, pralines, and biscuits on display. Deciding is tough—you could be here a while.
The relaxed setting, old signs, and hand-made flavors of SAID will whisk you back in time and make you appreciate the care and passion they’ve put into sweetening Rome for almost a century.