Roman cuisine is one of the best in Italy. In this article, you will find the 12 Delicious Must Try Foods in Rome to eat like the locals. Rome is located at the crossroads of Northern and Southern Italy. You will be able to enjoy a variety of regional Italian food cuisines since it is a centrally located metropolis in Italy. However, if you want to experience Rome like a local, you should try some traditional Roman dishes.
Campagna Romana, the surrounding area of Rome in Lazio, is the source of Roman cuisine’s ingredients. As Rome’s cuisine evolved during the Renaissance era, it became known for its high quality.
It’s likely you’ll visit Rome for its historical attractions, so you might as well eat like a local and have these must-try foods in Rome.
Roman Food History
Ancient Romans had a diet of grains, meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, milk, cheese, breads, oils, vinegars, and legumes. The lower class people would eat porridge, and occasionally got a vegetable with their meal. Beef was not common in ancient Rome. Sausages, snails, hare, fish, eggs, pheasants, and pork where the common forms of meat eaten. The food in Rome was generally cooked on a hearth, oven or grill.
Italy's Introduction to Pasta
The Arab conquest of Sicily in the 9th century AD is believed by historians to have brought pasta to Italy. Around the mid 1500’s the tomato had made it’w way to Italy, via Spanish colonization of the Americas. The tomato is an Aztec plant.The introductory of the tomato was meet with a lot of suspicion due to some medical beliefs at the time. It was later found that the vitamin C in tomatoes could be used as an ailment for the skin.
Tomato sauce was later invented and its recipe was first published circa 1690’s by an Italian chef chef. However tomato where still not a staple food in Italy until later. It was only until the Mid- 19th century that tomatoes and tomato sauces started to become more popular.
The Italians started to cultivate different varieties of tomatoes and it soon became an obsession. It is hard to think of what modern Italian cuisine would be like without the strong influence of pasta and tomatoes.
Foodie Areas of Rome
Rome has a plethora of great food neighborhoods throughout the city. You will find many of these neighborhood are close to some historic attractions. Here are some popular hoods to find the best food in Rome.
- Jewish Ghetto
- Centro Storico
Suppli is a must try food in Rome and a most beloved street food snacks. In simple terms, Suppli is a rice ball with mozzarella, and sometimes a ragu sauce, battered, and then deep-fried. No wonder it’s a favorite. In Rome, they have taken it to a whole new level and have different variations of this Roman classic.
You can find Suppli in most pizzerias, pizza al tagilo’s, and some restaurants. If you are looking for one of the more popular places to get a Suppli try Suppli Roma in the Trastevere neighborhood or Pizzarium located not too far from Vatican City. Suppli’s classic version is a must, but be sure to try the other variations as well.
Pizza al Tagilo
Pizza al Tagilo is one of the types of pizza that Rome has made popular. Pizza al Tagilo is basically pizza by the slice or by the cut pizza. It’s made in a large rectangle shape and then cut into smaller pieces. The dough has a fluffy but crispy texture. The pizza is usually sold by type and weight. You can find many pizza al taglio places around Rome, but here are some popular places to try pizza al taglio. Pizza al taglio is great because you can try many different variations at once and a poular street food in rome.
Try this popular Rome Food at:
There is another type of Roman pizza called Pizza Tonda that is often overshadowed by Neapolitan-style pizzas. In comparison to a Neapolitan-style pizza, this pizza has a thinner and crispier crust. It is more common to find Pizza Tonda in a sit-down restaurant. Here are some popular top-rated places to try Pizza Tonda.
Cacio e Pepe
The name Cacio e Pepe basically translates to cheese and pepper. It’s made with black pepper, pecorino romano, and pasta. The simplicity of the ingredients is what makes Italian food so good in Italy. In Italy, you will notice that the quality of the ingredients makes the food stand out. It’s one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten, no matter how simple it sounds.
Try this dish at one of these restaurants:
One of the best Italian food in Rome is Rigatoni Carbonara. Made with egg, hard cheese, cured pork, pepper, and rigatoni pasta. Usually made with a Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Another simple but decadent food to try in Rome. Carbonara in general can be served with other types of pasta, but I prefer the Rigatoni noodle with this sauce. The Carbonara in Italy is miles above the Cabanara than what you will find at most restaurants in the United States.
Here are some places to try Rigatoni Carbonara
Maritozzi is a cream-filled open-faced bun that is generally eaten for breakfast with some Esspresso in Rome. The buns are sweet, light, and fluffy filled with whipped cream, and usually with some powdered sugar sprinkled on top. Maritozzi is one of the best foods in Rome that can be found at pasticcerias all around Rome.
Try them at these recommended spots:
Carciofi Alla Guidea
Carciofi Alla Guidea is a fried artichoke that stems from Rome’s Jewish community. You can find this dish generally in the Ghetto di Roma (Jewish Ghetto). They are crispy on the outside with a nutty flavor and have a soft delicate inside. This dish is dated back to the 16th century and one of my favorite must try foods in Rome
Try Carciofi Alla Guidea here:
Saltimbocca Alla Romana
Saltimbocca Alla Romana is a pounded veal cutlet cooked with prosciutto, and sage, it’s generally pan-fried in oil and butter. This dish has a succulent and slightly earthy flavor. Be sure to dip some bread in the sauce when eating, so good and a must eat in Rome!
Recommended places to try Saltimbocca
Trippa Alla Romana
Probably more of an adventurist dish is Trippa Alla Romana, or Tripe (Cow Stomach) It’s made with honeycomb tripe, marinara, white wine, chopped vegetables and a stock, usually topped with a hard grated cheese like parmesan or pecorino. It’s a traditional roman dish with rooted from peasant kitchens. Considered an offal meat it may not be for everyone, but I personally love tripe. I prefer to eat it in a sandwich, which you can find at Mordi & Vai in Testaccio Market. One of my favorite best foods in Rome.
It is sometimes served on Saturdays at a one of the historic trattorias. Look for signs that say “Sabato Trippa” (Saturday Tripe)
Here are some top recommendations of where you can find this food in Rome
Allesso di Bollito
One of the hidden gems in Rome food is called Allesso di Bollito. A slow-braised beef served on bread with chicory. A savory sandwich you can find at Mordi & Vai in the Testaccio Market, one of the best places for food in Rome. Allesso di Bollito is a traditional roman food recipe made with tender beef soaked in a stew with other vegetables like onion and carrots and combined with the slightly bitter chicory which pairs well and helps cut through the fattiness of the beef. The bread has a great chewy texture. This was one of my favorite meals in Rome that’s also light on the budget and a must try food in Rome.
Burrata and Prosciutto Crudo
Both Burrata and Prosciutto Crudo are technically not true Roman dishes as they are from different origins. Burrata being from the Puglia region, and prosciutto has origins in Northern Italy, but many regions in Italy have their own variations. Burrata is similar to a fresh mozzarella but has a more gooey texture, and pairs well with Prosciutto or sun-dried tomatoes. Grab some bread and wine and head to a park for a picnic style snack and truly a must try food in Rome.
Try these favorite deli’s for Burrata and Prosciutto:
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Pizza e Mortazza
A favorite local street food in Rome is Pizza e Mortazza, made with Mortadella (A type of cold cut similar to bologna) sandwiched in between to pieces of pizza without marinara. In layman’s terms it is a simple but delicious sandwich. You can find them at almost any “Forno” (Bakery) as it’s a typical lunch in Rome.
Try them at these great fornos:
Getting around Rome
While Rome is a large metropolis it is actually quite easy to get around. Rome has an extensive Metro lines to easily get you around the city by bus, subways, trams, and trains.
I also found that the Hop-On Hop-Off Tour buses are also a great way to see the sights and get around to the popular eating destinations in Rome. There is great food everywhere in Rome, with a couple of exceptions you should be able to find most of the dishes on this list near some of the main attractions in Rome.
Taxi and Bikeshare or Scooter share are also some other options of getting around. Although Taxi’s will of course cost you a bit more than public transportation. And while riding around on a scooter you need to be mindful of all the cobblestone type roads around the main parts of Rome’s touristy areas.
Final Thoughts for 12 Delicious Must Try Foods in Rome
While there are many more delicious must try foods in Rome and it would be hard to try them all depending on how much time you will have in Rome. These are the foods I could see myself eating anytime I’m in Rome. What better way to experience Rome than to try some of the local Romain cuisines.
Traditional Roman meals may be more difficult to find in certain areas. So it might be best to plan out the types of food you would like to eat in Rome and tailor your schedule around the attractions you would like to visit.
You will no doubtably get some of these Rome dishes in other parts of Italy, so don’t fret if you’re not able to eat everything on this list.