Wondering what to eat in Rome? I savored traditional Roman food on my recent trip to Rome. Here is my guide to the best traditional food in Rome and the must-try Rome dishes.
Eating authentic food is always high on my travel bucket list. That being so, I savored exclusively traditional Roman food on my recent trip to Rome, Italy.
If you are a gourmand who enjoys authentic local food on their travels and you are planning a gourmand trip to Rome, you will love my list of the must-try traditional food in Rome. The list covers the best traditional pasta dishes from Rome, the best traditional meat dishes from Rome, the best vegetarian Rome dish, and the most popular street food in Rome! Buon appetito!
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- The 15 Best Traditional Food in Rome Any Gourmand Need to Try
- 1. Pasta Carbonara
- 2. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe
- 3. Pasta amatriciana
- 4. Pasta alla gricia
- 5. Pizza al taglio
- 6. Suppli
- 7. Fiori di zucca fritti alla Romana
- 8. Carciofi alla Romana
- 9. Carciofi alla Giudia
- 10. Trippa alla Romana
- 11. Saltimbocca alla Romana
- 12. Coda alla vaccinara
- 13. Trapizzino
- 14. Maritozzo
- 15. Gelato
- MORE ABOUT TRAVELING ITALY
The 15 Best Traditional Food in Rome Any Gourmand Need to Try
1. Pasta Carbonara
Pasta is a traditional food in Rome. There are four iconic traditional pasta Roman dishes. One of them is pasta carbonara.
Pasta carbonara is a synonym for Roman cuisine. It is Rome’s signature dish. Pasta carbonara is a simple and classic Rome pasta dish. It is typically made of long pasta (like spaghetti, tonnarelli, bucatini), crispy pork fat (bacon or pancetta), egg yolks, grated Pecorino Romano cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pasta carbonara is known for its creamy and velvety cheese sauce, perfect pasta texture, and sweet-smokey flavor.
This iconic Rome pasta dish is not to be missed in Rome. Pasta carbonara is a traditional first-course or main-course dish in Rome.
Where to eat pasta carbonara in Rome? I ate pasta carbonara in Da Tonino Trattoria Basseti and highly recommend it. Da Tonino is a popular traditional trattoria, loved by locals. It is close to Campo de’ Fiori in the Parione neighborhood in Rome.
2. Tonnarelli cacio e pepe
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is another simple Rome pasta dish. It is made only with a few ingredients: pasta (tonnarelli), cheese (cacio), and pepper (pepe).
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is a simple peasant dish. Lazio shepherds carried this simple dish with them while taking care of their herds in the fields and hills around Rome in the past.
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is a similar pasta dish to pasta carbonara. But unlike pasta carbonara, Tonnarelli cacio e pepe doesn’t come with meat (bacon). Tonnarelli cacio e pepe is made only with tonnarelli pasta (cooked al dente), finely grated pecorino romano cheese, and freshly ground black pepper.
Where to eat tonnareli cacio e pepe? I ate tonnareli cacio e pepe at Caffe Italia – Bar Italia in the Esquilino neigberhoud in Rome.
3. Pasta amatriciana
Pasta amatriciana is one of the most famous pasta dishes in Rome. To tell the truth, amatriciana originates from the small town of Amatrice in Lazio. However, the dish became enormously popular in Rome and it became a signature dish of Roman cuisine over time.
The celebrated amatricana sauce is made with guanciale (cured pork cheek), tomato sauce, pecorino romano, and chili pepper. Sometimes cooks use pancetta, instead of guanciale. Thick bucatini, or rigatoni pasta is used for the dish.
Where to eat pasta amatriciana in Rome? Try it in Trattoria Vecchia Roma in Esquilino in Rome.
4. Pasta alla gricia
Pasta alla gricia is also a must-have pasta dish in Rome. It is one of the oldest pasta dishes from Rome. The dish was invented in Rome around 400 AD.
The dish is made with pasta (spaghetti or rigatoni), guanciale (cured pig cheek/jowl), pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper. The dish has an intense aroma thanks to guanciale and is slightly salty thanks to pecorino cheese.
The dish is a so-to-say base for other popular pasta dishes in Rome. When you take away the guanciale from the original pasta alla gricia recipe, you get cacio e peppe. When you add eggs to the original pasta alla gricia recipe, you get pasta carbonara. Or, when you add tomatoes to the recipe, you get amatricana.
Pasta alla gricia is a staple dish on the menus of the traditional trattorias or osterias (taverns) in Rome.
Where to eat pasta alla gricia in Rome? Head to Armando Al Pantheon, a famous restaurant near the Pantheon in Rome.
5. Pizza al taglio
Pizza al taglio is a popular street food in Rome. Pizza al Taglio is ‘pizza by slice’.
Pizza al taglio comes in different varieties: from classic pizzas like pizza margarita, pizza rosa (only with tomato sauce), and pizza Bianca ( only with oil and salt) to more creative like pizza topped with potatoes, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes.
However, Pizza al Taglio is always a huge rectangular pizza that is sold by cutting it into stripes and squares. It is sold by weight and reheated. So, when in Rome, head to the counter of a pizzeria al taglio, point by your finger the pizza you want, explain by your hands how big you want it to be, and wait for the pizzaiolo to cut it, weigh it, and warm it. Enjoy your pizza al taglio in Rome!
Where to eat pizza al taglio in Rome? I ate it in Antico Forno Roscioli, a famous bakery and street food shop in Rome. Antico Forno Roscioli is Via dei Chiavari, 34.
Suppli are deep-fried rice balls with tomato sauce. The fried rice balls are typically filled with minced meat and pecorino cheese.
Roman suppli (pl.) are similar to Sicilian arancini. Suppli are always made with only arborio rice and mozzarella. Unlike arancini, which are made with beef and peas as an addition to arborio rice and mozzarella.
Suplli balls are a favorite street food in Rome and a popular appetizer (antipasto) of traditional Roman cuisine.
Where to eat suppli in Rome? I got suppli at Supplì Roma in Trastevere.
7. Fiori di zucca fritti alla Romana
Fried stuffed squash flowers are also a popular antipasto in Rome. Romans like to nibble on battered and deep-fried squash blossoms.
Typically squash flowers are stuffed with mozzarella (sometimes with anchovies), battered, and deep-fried.
Where to eat fiori di zucca in Rome? I had mine at Suppli Roma in Trastevere.
8. Carciofi alla Romana
Artichokes are a traditional food in Rome. There are two famous artichoke dishes in Rome: Carciofi alla Romana (the Roman-style artichokes) and Carciofi alla Giudia (the Jewish-style artichokes).
The Roman-style artichokes are a typical antipasto and a side dish of Roman cuisine. The artichokes are stuffed with a mix of finely chopped aromatic herbs (parsley and mint) and garlic, and then slowly cooked in a stainless saucepan with olive oil and salt.
The Roman-style artichokes are made with Romaneschi, Mammole, and Cimaroli artichokes.
Smaller artichokes are eaten as a whole, and bigger artichokes are eaten by pulling off leaves and nibbling their flesh.
Carciofii alla Romana are served warm. They are a classic appetizer in restaurants in Rome.
The artichokes season in Rome is from early winter to mid-spring. I savored the Roman-style artichokes on my trip to Rome in January.
Where to eat Carciofii alla Romana in Rome? I ate them in Da Tonino Trattoria Basseti.
9. Carciofi alla Giudia
The Roman-style artichokes are slowly cooked, but the Jewish-style artichokes are deep-fried. Both artichokes recipes originate from Rome.
Carciofi alla Giudia is a signature dish of the Roman Jewish ghetto. The dish was invented in the Jewish ghetto in Rome in the 16th century, but soon became a popular dish in the entire Rome.
The Roman-style artichokes are tender, juicy, and mouthmelting. The Jewish-style artichokes are crispy from the outside but tender from the inside. The Jewish-style artichokes are deep-fried twice to become crusty and gold sunflower.
Carciofi alla Giudia are served as a first-course dish in taverns and restaurants in Rome. The best are found in the Jewish ghetto, of course.
Where to eat Carciofi alla Giudia in Rome? Go to the celebrated BaGhetto Ristorante Kosher-Portico d’Ottavia restaurant in the Jewish neighborhood in Rome.
10. Trippa alla Romana
The Roman-style tripe is a traditional Roman dish. Once a peasant dish and the queen of poor cuisine, Trippa alla Romana became one of the most popular dishes in Rome. The dish is made with tripes, peeled tomatoes, carrots, white onions, pecorino Romano cheese, and wild mint.
It is a classic Saturday lunch dish. popularly known as ‘sabato trippa’, in the traditional taverns. There is a a famous saying Rome: Thursday gnocchi, Friday fish, Saturday ripe (Giovedi gnocchi, venerdi pesce, sabato trippa).
Tripa alla Romana is a second-course dish that is served hot in the traditional Roman trattorias.
Where to eat Tripa alla Romana in Rome? Try it in Da Armando al Pantheon.
11. Saltimbocca alla Romana
Saltibocca alla Romana is a popular meat dish from Rome. This classic Roman dish consists of veal, prosciutto, and sage, altogether rolled up and fried with white wine and butter in a pan.
Romans called the dish Saltimbocca alla Romana, which means ‘jumps in your mouth’, for its deliciousness. Saltimbocca alla Romana is a must-try Roman dish for meat lovers.
Where to eat Saltimbocca alla Romana in Rome? Da Armando al Pantheon.
12. Coda alla vaccinara
Coda alla vaccinara is a famous oxtail stew from Rome. The dish is prepared with slowly cooked meat (ox’s tail and braised beef), celery, carrots, chopped tomatoes, and dry white wine. The dish is cooked for four to five hours!
This once-poor men’s dish is one of the most popular delicacy dishes in Rome today.
Where to eat coda alla vaccinara in Rome? Da Armando al Pantheon.
Trapizzino is a popular street food in Rome, Trapizzino is a mix of sandwich (tramezzino) and pizza. It is half a sandwich and half a pizza. It is a triangular sandwich made of stuffed pizza. The pizza pocket gets stuffed with various fillings like tripe in tomato sauce, chicken with bell peppers, and burrata and anchovies. This iconic Roman pizza sandwich resembles the traditional flavors of Rome, while it is crunchy outside but soft inside.
Trapizzino is a famous Roman-style pizza pocket and is a favorite Roman snack. It is also one of the most famous food inventions from Rome. It was invented in the Testaccio neighborhood in Rome in 208, but it soon crossed the borders of Italy and became one of the most famous street foods worldwide.
Where to eat trapizzino in Rome? At Il Trapizzino!
Maritozzo is the most iconic Roman pastry. Sicily is famous for its cannolo, Naples is famous for its sfogiatella, and Rome for its maritozzo.
Maritozzo (sg., maritozzo pl.) is a soft brioche bun, halved, and filled with a tremendous amount of whipped cream. The dough of a classic Roman maritozzo is typically scented with vanilla, orange zest, and honey, and sometimes it can include raisins, pinole nuts, and candied fruits, as well.
Maritozzo is a traditional breakfast pastry, enjoyed with coffee in the morning.
Where to eat maritozzo in Rome? I had it in the iconic Sant Eustachio Il Caffe in Rome.
There is no trip to Rome without having an authentic gelato! Gelato is the most famous Italian dessert. There are many gelato shops in Rome. But the most popular are handmade, all-natural, and fresh artisanal gelato. The most famed gelato shops in Rome are Günther near the Pantheon and Otaleg in Trastevere. I tried gelato from both of teh shops and it is hard to say whose is better!
Where to get a great gelato in Rome? I took gelato in Günther and Otaleg, the two most popular gelato shops in Rome.
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