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The Italian capital of Rome is not only known for boasting some of the most famous historical sights in the world, it’s also the home of some really great food.
In addition to the classic Italian foods, Rome has some unique dishes specific to the city. Typically food from Rome is simple and basic, yet rich in flavour, and ingredients are based on the seasons. Ingredients used in Roman cuisine include meat, Pecorino and ricotta cheeses, and fresh vegetables such as globe artichokes. The food is delicious, and I had the best spaghetti alla carbonara I’ve ever tasted at Antica Pesa in the Trastevere district.
Food in Rome is divided into several courses- Antipasto (starters), Primi Piatti (pasta dish) and Secondi Patti (meat or fish dish). Whilst I would order pasta as a main dish back home, the Italians eat pasta as a first course, meaning I was always incredibly full after a meal!
If you love Italian food, check out these classic Rome foods while you’re there:
Best Foods in Rome
Don’t leave Rome without trying Trapizzino from Il Trapizzino. This Roman street food is a triangle-shaped pizza pocket stuffed with a variety of fillings, such as meatballs in sauce, eggplant parmigiana and tongue in green sauce.
You can find Il Trapizzino in the Trastevere district of Rome, or you can visit their stall in Mercato Centrale at Roma Termini train station.
When I ordered my Trapizzino from the to-go window in Trastevere, I asked the server which of the five main flavors she recommended the most. Without hesitation she told me to get the Pollo alla Cacciatora and boy, was it good! The chicken was so flavorful and succulent and the pizza pocket was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Suppli are a little bit like the Roman version of arancini. They’re basically balls of arborio rice, tomato sauce and mozzarella that are soaked in egg, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried.
You’ll find them in most of the counter-serve pizza places but the best place to try them is at Suppli Roma, which can be found in the Trastevere district. This takeaway spot has been serving suppli to hungry locals and tourists since 1979. Suppli make for a great snack if you’re feeling peckish between meals!
Gnocchi Alla Romana
One of the other popular things to eat in Rome is Gnocchi alla Romani, which is gnocchi done Roman style! Discs of dumplings made with semolina are baked in the oven with cheese, nutmeg and butter to create this mouthwatering classic Roman dish. Yum.
Italy is all about pasta, and the Romans have a typical pasta dish called Bucatini all’amatriciana. Amatriciana is a tomato-based sauce which contains cherry tomatoes, guinciale (dried pork cheek) and hard cheese such as Pecorino. It is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Rome, and can be served with spaghetti instead of Bucatini, although the latter is most used in Rome.
Saltimbocca alla Romana
Saltimbocca alla Romana is a must-try food in Rome that consists of veal slices skewered with prosciutto and sage, cooked with butter and white wine. This name of this classic Roman dish translates as “hop-in-the-mouth”, which is exactly what will happen when you try it!
Crostata di Ricotta
If you’re bored of gelato and looking to try a typical Roman dessert, try the ricotta cheescake. Crostata di Ricotta is an ancient Roman cheesecake made with ricotta and candied fruit, raisins or chocolate chips.
Carciofo alla Romana
Another popular food in Rome is Carciofo alla Romana,
One of the most famous foods in Rome (and the whole of Italy) is gelato – a soft ice cream that comes in all different flavors. There are tons of great gelato places in Rome, including Frigidarium, Come il Latte, Otaleg and Giolitti.
My favorite though is Grom, just because I love their “Crema Come Una Volta” flavor, which contains lots of eggs, fresh cream and a little grated lemon peel. The egg makes it super creamy and delicious!
Pizza al Taglio
It might sound odd to have carbs on carbs, but potato pizza is delicious. I discovered it on my first trip to Rome and now it’s something I simply have to order every time I go back.
There’s no sauce or cheese – instead the pizza base is topped with thin slices of potato, lashes of olive oil and rosemary for flavor. You can usually find potato pizza at the Pizza al Taglio places and if you want to give it a try, I’d suggest going to La Prezzemolina, which is on a narrow street close to the Colosseum.
This counter-serve pizza parlor won a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award and is a great place to stop before or after you explore the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Cacio e Pepe
My favorite Italian pasta dish has to be Cacio e Pepe, which is al dente pasta with cheese, unsalted butter and lots of black pepper. While this simple dish only features a few key ingredients, it tastes absolutely delicious!
The quality of the cheese is very important – Cacio e Pepe usually features a strong Pecorino and either Grana Pedano or Parmesan.
You can find Cacio e Pepe all over the country but you’ll find some really good versions of it in Rome. This cheesy, peppery sauce is usually served with pastas such as spaghetti, tonnarelli, bucatini and strozzapreti.
If you want to give it a try, check out Osteria da Fortunata, which is located just a short walk from Piazza Navona. This popular spot often has a long line at lunch, so get there early right when it opens! The pasta is perfectly al dente and you can even see the cooks rolling dough in the window.
Carbonara is another Italian favorite and while it’s not specific to Roma, it’s certainly a must-try. Carbonara consists of and is usually served with spaghetti, though you can also find it served with rigatoni,
Maritozzi are sweet, fluffy buns that are filled with whipped cream and coated with powdered sugar. The dough is typically made with flour, yeast, olive oil, honey, sugar, eggs, butter and some candied orange peel to give them a slightly orangey flavor. Maritozzi are typical to Rome and you can find them in many patisseries across the city.
If you want to try the best Maritozzi in Rome, pay a visit to Regoli, which is located close to Piazza Vittorio. Another great spot is Il Maritozzo Rosso, which is dedicated exclusively to maritozzi and is located in the Trastevere district.
Your FAQs About Foods in Rome, Answered
Today the Romans eat a Mediterranean diet, featuring vegetables, fish, meat, beans, fruit and healthy fats like olive oils. Menus in Rome tend to feature appetizers such as artichokes, cured meats and salads. Pasta is served as “primi patti” which is the first course before the main course. Try not to get too full on pasta because then you won’t have room for the main course, which is usually a fish or meat dish. In the ancient Roman times, the population mainly lived off a diet of legumes, vegetables, grains, bread, fish and meat.
I would say the most common foods in Italy are pizza, pasta, gelato, seafood and risotto. You’ll also find lots of meats and cheeses on the menu!
There are lots of great dishes to try in Rome. If you like pasta, the most popular ones are cacio e pepe, bucatini all’amatriciana or carbonara. You’ll also find lots of great snacks in Rome, including pizza al taglio (sliced pizza), suppli (similar to arancini) and trapizzino (pizza pockets stuffed with filling).
There are tons of things you can eat besides pizza and pasta in Rome. Try Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal slices with prosciutto and sage), Suppli (fried rice balls with mozzarella and tomato sauce) and Carciofi alla Romana (artichokes cooked with white wine, olive oil, garlic and herbs).
A Final Word…
So there you have it – some of the best foods to try in Rome! While you may not have the time to try all of the dishes on this list, definitely try one or two. Food in Italy is usually delicious wherever you go; the dishes are so fresh and simple with only a few ingredients, yet the flavors are incredible!