Veal Saltimbocca recipe: how to make and serve saltimbocca alla romana the Rome way

by marta

Quick, easy and error-proof veal saltimbocca recipe. Traditional Italian recipes to get a taste of Rome on your table, wherever you are. 

Veal saltimbocca are one of the staples of Rome cuisine and a dish you find both in restaurants and Rome home kitchens.

They are thin cutlets of veal quickly cooked in a pan with parma ham and sage and they are so delicious they basically ‘hop into your mouth’, as their name suggests. ‘Saltimbocca’ means just that: ‘salta= jump’ and ‘bocca=mouth’!

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Are saltimbocca from Rome? 

The name of this recipe, saltimbocca alla romana, Roman-style saltimbocca gives away how typical of the capital this dish really is.

However, if you go digging into the history of the dish, its origin seems less than clear.

While it is sure that saltimbocca have been In the Roman tradition for very long, some sat that it is a preparation that comes from Brescia in the North of Italy. 

Italy is full of regional dishes with contested origins and in the case of saltimbocca this can be the reason for one of the debates around the preparation of the dish.

Some swear you need to use butter, the ingredient often listed in saltimbocca recipes from the web, but many Rome cooks and 100% of the Rome mamas I asked when double checking the process for this article are definite about the absolute need to use olive oil rather than butter. 

Where do I personally stand in this debate? Let’s put it this way: I started writing this recipe the way I make it, with butter, but when I heard the horror in the voice of my mom when I revealed it, I changed my ways and now I advocate the use of oil instead! 

Photo collage with two dishes of saltimbocca and overlay text 'step by step instructions for real Saltimbocca, easy recipe for a taste of Rome on your table

What goes with veal saltimbocca: best side dishes for Roman-style saltimbocca.

Saltimbocca goes well with many side dishes, but if you want to stay true to the Roman style of this dish, then Roman sides are best!

I recommend serving your saltimbocca with a side of roast potatoes and cicoria ripassata (sauteed chicory). Delicious!

What to serve with saltimbocca ideas:

  • Sauteed chicory
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Italian style roast potatoes
  • Roman-style peas (with onions and ham)
  • Puntarelle
  • Sauteed zucchini

Ingredients for this veal saltimbocca recipe

  • 6 thin veal cutlets 
  • 6 strips of parma ham, one per cutlet: cut them so that they are a little smaller than the cutlet itself
  • 6 leaves of fresh sage
  • Olive oil
  • White flour (enough to dust the cutlets)
  • 1.4 glass of dry white wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper (optional)

Cooking gear needed for this veal saltimbocca recipe

  • Chopping board/ flat dish
  • Flat dish for flouring the cutlets
  • Non-stick frying pan
  • Toothpicks (one per cutlet)
  • Fork

Saltimbocca recipe: basic info

  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Make ahead: no
  • Type of dish: main, secondo piatto
  • Vegetarian: no
  • Child friendly: yes, kids usually love saltimbocca!
  • Allergens: flour and butter (Butter is optional, see below)

How to make saltimbocca alla Romana, Roman Style Saltimbocca

Take the cutlets, lie them on a plate or chopping board and add a slice of prosciutto (parma ham) and sage on each. Use a toothpick to fix them to the meat.

Pour the flour onto a plate and lie the veal on it, so that the condiment-free side gets nicely dusted.

Once all ready, take a pan big enough for all your cutlets to cook together and add olive oil. As soon as hot  (not so hot to start frying!), add the cutlets, sage face down first.

Need to know. The sage down the first tip is the most important and the only bit where this super simple recipe can go wrong!

Let them cook for about 40 seconds and then turn them so that they cook on the other side. Add white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. 

Top tip: when you add the wine, lift the pan slightly and rotate it gently so that the sauce covers the top of the cutlets too, adding extra flavor to them.

Your saltimbocca is ready! Take it off the heat, put in a serving plate, cover with the remaining sauce and serve very hot. 

Optional step: if you like more sauce on your saltimbocca, you can add an optional extra step. Once they are ready to come out of the pan, move them out but keep the sauce in. Add a dice of butter and let it melt gently, then pour it on top of the saltimbocca for extra flavor. 

Saltimbocca Recipe: printable version

Roman Style Veal Saltimbocca Recipe

Roman Style Veal Saltimbocca Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 8 minutes

Very easy, traditional recipe for Roman Style Saltimbocca: easy dinner recipe for the whole family, from Rome


  • 6 veal cutlets
  • 3 parma ham slices, cut in half so that each piece is a little smaller than the cutlet it goes with
  • 6 sage leaves
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 glass of white wine


  1. Use a toothpick to fix one slice of parma ham and one sage leaf onto each veal cutlet
  2. Pass each cutlet in flour so that their bottom half, the one without the ham and sage, gets lightly dusted
  3. Heat up some olive oil in a non stick pan, then add the cutlets sage size down
  4. Let them cook 40 seconds, then turn them once and add the white wine
  5. Rotate the pan so the wine gets onto the top of the cutlets
  6. Add salt and pepper, if using, then let cook for a couple of extra minutes
  7. Serve hot, pouring their cooking sauce on top

I hope you enjoyed this Roman-style veal saltimbocca recipe. Happy cooking!

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