The Rome apple is crunchy enough for satisfying eating and not too sweet. (I am not a huge fan of super-sweet apples, personally.) This also makes it a solid apple for baking; the pieces hold their shape well and bake up nicely.
I also discovered at the farmers' market last weekend that the Rome apple is an Ohio original. "This is my favorite!" I told the farmer working the stand, and he was surprised, since the Rome is a more workaday apple, more taken for granted than the glamorous Honeycrisp. "Well that's an Ohio original," he said, "Born and bred. That there's a Johnny Appleseed apple."
I couldn't find confirmation on the Johnny Appleseed tale, but I do know that the Rome was first planted near the banks of the Ohio River in the early 19th century. The township was named Rome, so the apple became known as "Rome Beauty." And a beauty it is, too; with its perfect roundness and ripe red color, it looks like the quintessential apple of picture books.
The Rome apple also keeps well. If you find a peck at the farmers' market, try putting them away somewhere cool for the winter. Here's a little more info on storing apples for the winter.
(Images: Faith Durand)