8 Roman Foods You Must Try And Where to Eat Them In Rome
By Alessandro Costetti, a curious photographer and nature enthusiast who switched the gothic grandeur of London for the art and culture of Rome’s ancient magic.
Edited by Holly Stark
Rome’s faultless food scene is open and on tap throughout the year. With a tasty array of regional varieties, authentic food choices and the simple use of fresh local produce, the city tempts foodies to the must try Roman food scene. Wondering what to eat in Rome? Be prepared to take your appetite on a wandering tour through the city’s weaving streets. Taste the refined, local flavours of one of the most dynamic neighbourhoods, the Jewish Ghetto, as you soak up the vibe and try the iconic artichoke dish loved by many. Experience the crucial, historically working-class suburbs, where lower cost of living has allowed entrepreneurs to flourish and the food scene to thrive. Any food-focused traveler will be spoilt for choice, with an array of bars and gourmet restaurants making Rome the ideal home to satisfy your tastebuds. The Italian capital has plenty to offer your palate; through Rome street food, inexpensive eateries and bakeries conjuring up traditional Roman desserts; you will never be bored of dining out in this delicious city.
Pizza by the Slice at Roscioli
If you're sightseeing near the Campo de' Fiori piazza and market, make a stop at Antico Forno Roscioli; a bakery crafting freshly baked, traditional, crispy Roman pizza with generous toppings. The food preparation here is a work of art, and it’s easily recognisable when witnessing the bakers at work; crafting their huge, long pizzas at lightning speed. One of the most popular and best places to eat in Rome with a few seats and counter space to eat at, this spot is a must-visit if you’re central and wondering where to eat in Rome. Perhaps take your food out and continue wandering the city streets. Serving up some of the best pizza in Rome, the space also make lots of traditional Roman desserts; cakes and pastries, tarts and flans. Try these too and your appetite will be well and truly satisfied. Grabbing a slice of Roman pizza is one of the top 10 things to do in Rome.
Cacio e Pepe in Trastevere
Seeking a dish of the best pasta in Rome? Look no further than cacio e pepe; a dish made with pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, along with starchy pasta water, which makes a creamy sauce. The classic recipe uses tonnarelli pasta. You’ll see cacio e pepe on nearly every Roman menu, but Roma Sparita is one of the spots who do it best where you can truly eat like a local in Rome. Roma Sparita is home to one of the most loved bowls of cacio e pepe in the city. The restaurant in Trastevere, an enchanting, antiquated neighbourhood and colourful bohemian area, with centuries-old, working-class roots, rose to fame due to the unique way of serving cacio e pepe: here, the coated tonnarelli noodles arrive on your plate served in a parmesan cheese bowl. The dish is a top Rome food experience to satisfy your tastebuds.
Carciofo alla Giudia in the Jewish Ghetto
As the oldest Jewish settlement in Europe, dating back to the 2nd century B.C., the must-visit Jewish Ghetto is home to a striking synagogue, kosher bakeries and must try Roman food. Head to one of the many Jewish-Roman trattorias where you can taste the incredible traditional Roman food fused with the expertise of the Jewish community. The famous, distinctive local dish carciofo alla giudia is a must for any Rome food guide. The traditional crispy fried artichoke of the Jewish Ghetto is at the historic and culinary heart of Rome. The ghetto was finally abolished in 1870 but the dish lives on, being a speciality of Roman Jewish cuisine. Alla giudia means “Jewish-style” in local dialect and the dish is not to be missed for any foodie in the city. Walk your full tummy off in one of the loveliest, most atmospheric areas and learn about the rough, tragic and turbulent Jewish history in Rome. The compact neighbourhood has very pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, hidden corners and ancient ruins; great for a stroll.
Carbonara at Trattoria da Danilo
Romans consider carbonara the queen of all pastas. For a true Roman carbonara, you're allowed four ingredients: eggs, pecorino cheese, guanciale, and pepper. Each restaurant has its own spin on how they make it; alternating the type of pasta used and where they source their guanciale (similar to pancetta, but from a pig’s cheek) and pecorino. There are many variants: you can find vegetarian carbonara, with Tropea red onions, courgettes, asparagus or artichokes. You can find seafood carbonara, where the guanciale is replaced by swordfish. But simple, traditional carbonara is at Rome’s culinary heart and is considered one of the local dishes and best pasta in Rome. Head to Trattoria da Danilo where Danilo Valente and his mum Lina make one of the best plates of carbonara in Rome; served in a traditional osteria. A charming dish; the creamy bowl of Gragnano spaghetti is garnished with Bassiano pancetta, 18-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano and a twist of freshly cracked black pepper. It’s one of the best bowls in Rome; simple, satisfying carbonara, with no frills. A must-try Roman food for any pasta lover seeking the true essence of Roman cuisine.
Supplì at Sisini i Supplì
Supplì is native to Rome. Get really traditional and eat like a local in Rome as you sample one of the best snacks of the city. The first supplì were filled with chicken and mincemeat, but now they’re mostly vegetarian friendly; stuffed with mozzarella that satisfyingly stretches like a string resembling a telephone cord when the supplì is split. This consequently led to the nickname supplì al telefono. The most common supplì is a combination of rice, tomato sauce, and raw egg, typical to the Roman cuisine. However, supplì can also be prepared without tomato sauce, supplì in bianco. Weave your way to Sisini i Supplì, located in Trastevere, a takeaway shop with Italian cuisine including pizza, pasta, and of supplì. Taste the classic supplì stuffed with rice, tomato sauce, and a warm gooey mozzarella middle. This is the ideal place to get a taste for the original Roman snack.
Puntarelle alla Romana at Trattoria Fiammetta
The weird and wonderful puntarelle alla romana is a seasonal salad (autumn and winter) and Roman speciality with crispy, deliciously bitter curls of tender young puntarelle shoots tossed with a dressing of anchovies, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. Puntarelle or catalogna is a member of the chicory family sometimes known as asparagus chicory. It is a loose leafed variety of chicory which originated in Italy with long white, pale green shoots and feathery leaves similar to those of dandelions. The dish is punchy and bitter; but also delicious. Worth a try for anyone interested in the quirkier side of Rome’s food scene and wondering what to eat in Rome. Try the dish at Trattoria Fiammetta, a great spot to sample the best of Rome food and drink. Team your dish with the house red; Vino Rosso di Montepulciano.
Tiramisu at Pompi
For over 50 years, Bar Pompi gelateria and pasticceria has been an original, local Roman staple when it comes to tiramisu; a traditional Roman dessert consisting of layers of sponge cake soaked in coffee and brandy or liqueur with powdered chocolate and mascarpone cheese. While you’ll likely find good tiramisu around town, nothing come close to Bar Pompi; home to the best, reasonably priced tiramisu in Rome. For years, Rome locals would travel halfway across the city to get their hands on the decadent tiramisu from the flagship store in the San Giovanni district near Piazza Re di Roma. Now, with another Bar Pompi closer to the city centre, locals and visitors have the desert at their fingertips and can head to the pasticceria on via della Croce 82 near Piazza di Spagna. Don’t miss it if you have a sweet tooth.
Straccetti of Sea Bream at La Sibilla di Tivoli
Dine in one of the oldest restaurants with breathtaking panoramic views of Italy at La Sibilla di Tivoli. If you get the chance to pop outside Rome for the day, take a trip to must-see Tivoli, a charming countryside town where you can experience a delicious feast and visit historical sites like the Villa d'Este; famous for its Renaissance garden and fountains. The restaurant La Sibilla di Tivoli opened in 1720. The oldest restaurant in Tivoli, located at the foot of the Templi dell’Acropoli ruins, has fed guests such as Pope Leon XII, Gabriele D’Annunzio and Yoko Ono. The gardens, atmosphere, setting and stunning panoramic view, combined with the menu of traditional and expertly prepared dishes is well worth a visit for anyone looking for an exceptional, elegant Rome dining experience. It’s one of the most expensive restaurants in Tivoli, but its uniqueness, dreaminess and quality justify the expense. Try the straccetti of sea bream and enjoy the scenic views of the rolling hills and the countryside.