Trader Joe’s Gnocchi Alla Romana Review

Trader Joe's Gnocchi alla Romana
Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Romana

Today we travel to Rome, Italy, and back in time to sample a staple of that region with a Trader Joe’s twist. That dish is called Gnocchi Alla Romana. Looking at the outer bag in the freezer at my Trader Joe’s had my mouth drooling because it looked so damn good. But as we frequent Trader Joe’s shoppers know, looks can be deceiving when you compare the glamour shot on the bag/box to what you really get. How will Trader Joe’s Gnocchi Alla Romana stack up?

First, let’s even figure out what this dish even is? 

What is Gnocchi Alla Romana?

Gnocchi alla Romana is a distinctive and delectable Italian dish that hails from Rome, offering a different twist to the more commonly known potato-based gnocchi. Before there were potatos and corn from the New World, Europeans had to make due with wheat and this dish is a peek back to the times before North America was “discovered”. Unlike its potato counterpart, Gnocchi alla Romana is made using semolina flour, which is mixed with milk, butter, and cheese, often Parmesan or Pecorino, to create a smooth, dough-like mixture. This mixture is then spread out and allowed to cool, after which it is cut into circular shapes. These semolina discs are layered in a baking dish, generously dotted with more butter and cheese, and sometimes enriched with additional ingredients like nutmeg for an extra layer of flavor. The dish is then baked until it achieves a golden-brown crust on top, resulting in a creamy, rich interior with a deliciously crispy exterior. Gnocchi alla Romana is a heartwarming, comforting dish, offering a delightful blend of creamy texture and savory taste, a testament to the simplicity and elegance of Roman cuisine.

But if you look at traditional Gnocchi Alla Romana it looks like:

Trader Joe’s version looks like this:

Trader Joe's Gnocchi Alla Romana
Image used from Trader Joe’s Website Trader Joe’s Gnocchi Alla Romana

It’s a little bit different shape and not traditional but all the ingredients are the same. I think as individual servings this might be a better option than trying to scoop something out of a baking dish.

Trader Joe’s describes their dish as “cheesy semolina gratins”. Semolina is a type of wheat that is used to make pasta and when coursely ground, can be very similar to polenta. In fact, we thought it was very much like cheesy polenta. 

Trader Joe's Gnocchi alla Romana preparing
Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Romana preparing

How to prepare Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Romana

Trader Joe’s lists two methods to prepare on the back side of the bag. Conventional Oven and Microwave. I would also throw in there, you could prepare these in an Air Fryer pretty easily, just cut down the time to 10-12 minutes at 350f. I do not recommend putting these in a microwave. You want that crispy exterior you can only get in a real oven or air fryer.

Trader Joe's Gnocchi alla Romana before they go in the oven
Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Romana before they go in the oven

I did exactly as they said. Warmed up the oven to 350 and put all four of the gnocchi muffin thingies on a small cookie sheet and set the timer and came back 20 minutes later. I pulled them out of the oven and they didn’t look cooked all the way through. I got out my instant read thermometer and stuck it in the middle and nope, they were like 60 F degrees. I put them back in for another 10 or so minutes and then I could see the center of the gnocchis melted cheese. But mine never looked like the bag where there is a layer of melted cheese on top but you can see the cheese in there.

While they were baking, the oven smelled wonderful. A mix of sage, nutmeg and cheese aromas emanated from the oven.

I served them with pan-fried pork chops with a pan sauce, oven-roasted Trader Joe’s Les Petites Carrots of Many Colors, and steamed broccoli. Yummy!

Trader Joe's gnocchi alla romana served
Trader Joe’s gnocchi alla romana served! Yum!

My Final Thoughts on Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Romana

Taking the cupcake like wrapper off the gnocchis was a little challenging when they are hot. If you grab opposite sides and pull apart they will expand and you can pop them out of the paper cups they are in. Each gnocchi is a perfect sized serving at 180 calories. The whole bag is $4.49 for four of these suckers. Not bad in my book

When you cut into them, they are pretty firm and they don’t fall apart even when cut. You can see flecks of sage and melted cheese on top but don’t be fooled the whole thing tastes like cheese. The #1 and #3 ingredents are milk and butter and then #4 is cheese! These are very rich but you know it’s not a whole meal. Like I mentioned before they are very much like polenta in appearance and texture. We all enjoyed them with our meal and especially when I spoon pan sauce over them!

The family was blown away by them and we all said we’d run out and buy more next time we were at Trader Joe’s. The rich, creamy, cheesy flavors go perfectly with something like roast chicken or pork chops. We all agreed these were almost perfect but some baking issues and getting them out of their paper cup prevented these things from being a perfect 10.

I am going to give them a 9 out of 10 bells!




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