The only possible way I can think of to translate the name of this beverage is to call it "Gassy." Which is just a fun name for a drink, wouldn't you say?
Gassosa Neri, in my experience, is a drink of mythical proportions here in Rome. There are many devotees to the Neri family of beverages, not the least of which is called Chinotto (kee-NOTE-toh). Chinotto has inspired entire websites that gush over it, explaining the origins of the fruit from the citrus family known as chinotto and why everyone loves it so. (Personally I think it's weird and bitter-tasting. S. Pelligrino makes it as well, but true devotees will probably tell you that Neri is the only true Chinotto). In fact, the Chinotto.com website actually has a FAN CLUB called "Amici del Chinotto" (Friends of Chinotto) complete with membership cards. I am tempted to join just to get one for my wallet, but it wouldn't fit with all the stupid grocery store loyalty cards I am forced to carry around with me. They also have a list of pro-Chinotto bars throughout Italy (and one in Livonia, Michigan--hello, random!) where you can get Chinotto.
But, what of gassosa? It's like Roman Sprite. The ingredients are: water, sugar, carbonation. That's right folks, gassosa is carbonated sugar water. How's that for simplicity? No secret recipes here.
First of all, it's pretty hard to find. But if you do locate it, it comes in these little 20 cl glass bottles, sold in shrink-wrapped flats of six.
The best place to go gassosa-hunting is at a really traditional Roman pizzeria. For example, I know they have it at Cassa Mortaro on Viale Trastevere. Marked outside simply "Pizzeria" and in fact its real name being "Ai Marmi", this place is known as Cassa Mortaro (a.k.a. "The Mortuary") by locals because it has marble-topped tables---just like---you guessed it! It's the only place I can think of that has Gassosa Neri on the menu. A friend of mine always orders one and mixes it with beer. Some people mix it with wine.
Why is this relevant? It's not, really. But it just crossed my mind that some beverages have taken on mysterious and mythical proportions here in Rome, and not everyone knows about Gassosa. It's not that it's this incredibly great drink. But I think the fact that it's so hard to find makes it kind of popular among those "in the know." Another of these is Tassoni Cedrata.
Has anyone tried these? Anyone a big fan? What other "strange" or local drinks do you have where you live?