Rome is a city of art, culture, and history. But it is also a city of outstanding cuisine. From gelato parlors to cozy trattorias, the Italian capital is filled with eateries for all tastes and budgets. Roman cuisine combines ingredients both local and Mediterranean to create memorable dishes. So explore the streets and squares of Rome – and don’t forget to savor the delicious flavors along the way.
1. Exploring the Delicious Delights of Rome’s Cuisine
If your idea of a perfect trip is scrumptious eats and luscious libations, you can’t beat Rome’s flourishing food and wine scene. Drawing influence from all over the Mediterranean, Rome’s unique cuisine is notoriously flavorful and filling. Here are four culinary gems that you must experience when in the Eternal City.
This beloved pasta dish is a Roman icon, composed of pancetta, Pecorino Romano cheese, eggs, and black pepper. Carbonara’s flavor can vary, as some chefs don’t add pancetta, but the true headliner is the cheese. If the carbonara looks creamy, it means that the chef added cream. To many Romans, though, pure carbonara uses only the four original ingredients.
This scrumptious French-fry-shaped bite is made with risotto, egg, and cheese, and fried in crunchy breadcrumbs. Start your exploration of Rome’s cuisine with these fried goodies, perfect for a snack, lunch, or dinner. Supplì can also come with a variety of fillings, from mushrooms to saffron to truffles, depending on the restaurant.
No Roman experience is complete without what is arguably the best ice cream in the world. The secret is in the creamy consistency due to the presence of egg and lower water content. Opt for a cone of pistachio, salted caramel, or hazelnut gelato, and prepare to be dazzled.
4. Neapolitan Pizza
This Italian classic needs little introduction—crispy, wood-fired dough, smothered in tomato sauce and plenty of mozzarella. Pizza was invented in Naples, but Rome serves up its own unique concoctions, including inventive toppings such as pizza bianca topped with parmesan and anchovies.
Rome’s food culture is as vibrant and varied as the city itself. Everywhere you go, you’ll be met with delicious discoveries, from traditional pizzerias to inventive trattorias. Wherever you choose to explore, you’re sure to have a culinary extravaganza in the eternal city.
2. Unique Ingredients of the Roman Kitchen
What stands out about the gastronomy of Rome is its use of locally sourced produce that is of unparalleled quality, with varied regional variants. Fresh, seasonal ingredients become the star of the show, with each dish highlighting unique offerings from the Roman area. To truly appreciate Rome’s food scene, visitors and locals alike must understand these ingredients that have been staples in Italian cuisine since ancient times:
- Artichokes – Thistle-like vegetables have grown wild in Rome since ancient times and are currently grown in the Roman countryside. This vegetable is recognizable throughout the region in dishes like Carciofi Alla Giuda (deep-fried artichoke, a classic Roman Jewish dish).
- Caciofi – In English, Caciofi translates to cheese-filled. These are fritters that are filled with cheese, anchovies, or other elements, and commonly deep-fried.
- Pasta alla Gricia – Simple yet sophisticated, this dish consists of ricotta, pecorino cheese, and black pepper, and is often served as the first course in Roman homes.
- Baccala – Baccala, or salted cod fish, is often served fried with garlic, parsley, and olive oil. This dish is especially popular during the Christmas season.
- Offal – This encompasses a variety of organ meats including liver, kidney, tongue, and heart. These are prepared in a variety of ways and traditionally make up an important part of Roman cuisine.
- Puntarelle – This is a wild species of chicory that is found in Rome. It is traditionally served raw with a garlic-anchovy-lemon dressing.
- Roman Pizza – Pizza Romana – This thick-crust variation is typically cooked in a wood-fired oven and is more flavorful than the traditional Neapolitan variety. It typically has a dense, doughy, chewy texture.
- Supplì – An Italian snack made of rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, they can be filled with a variety of ingredients including ragù, mozzarella, and other cheese.
These are just a few of the many unique ingredients that make Roman cuisine so beloved around the world. Whether it be in its traditional or modern incarnations, Roman food never fails to tantalize the taste buds.
3. Discovering Rome’s Food Markets and Eateries
From hole-in-the-wall trattorias to family-run pizza parlors, Rome’s food scene is as exquisite and varied as its stunning architecture and culture. Taking a leisurely stroll through the city’s various markets and eateries is the perfect way to experience the best of what the city has to offer. Here’s what you can look forward to when :
- The freshest, most flavorful ingredients. Whether it’s the seasonal tomatoes, succulent seafood, or filled pasta, you can expect to find the freshest and most flavorful ingredients in Rome’s food markets and eateries.
- A variety of traditional Roman dishes. From classic Carbonara and Amatriciana pasta dishes to Tartufo ice cream and the famed “true Rome” street food, there’s something to appeal to every palette.
- A dining experience for every occasion. From casual Euro-style cafés to the best of Italian fine dining, there’s certainly something to suit every flavor – and budget – in Rome.
At a traditional trattoria, you can expect a menu of hearty, traditional Roman dishes – all made with the freshest, locally sourced ingredients – and the chance to savor the world-famous flavors of Italian cuisine at an affordable price. Alternatively, for a more refined dining experience, opt for a meal at one of the city’s swankier restaurants, where you can sample the best of Roman cuisine prepared with a modern twist. Honest, unpretentious, and utterly delicious, it’s no wonder Roman cuisine has become one of the most sought after culinary experiences in Europe.
If you’re looking for some delicious street food, the street carts of Rome offer an unbeatable selection. Offering up an array of tantalizing treats from rich pizza al taglio to sweet gelato and everything in between, it’s easy to see why Rome’s street food has become such a beloved, iconic part of the city.
Whatever your dining preference, it’s easy to explore Rome’s vibrant food scene with its variety of food markets and eateries. Experience all Rome has to offer, and revel in its flavorful food experience.
4. Sample Local Specialties From the Trattorias
With thousands of years of culinary culture within its borders, Rome’s food scene is practically bursting with exciting, exotic specialties. For a true taste of the region, check out these local favorites from trattoria kitchens:
- Carbonara: Hearty, creamy carbonara is an iconic Roman pasta dish. This umami-rich dish combines long spaghetti noodles with cured pork cheek, smoky pancetta or bacon, cracked black pepper, eggs and parmesan cheese to create a savory, comforting masterpiece.
- Bucatini all’Amatriciana: Bucatini is a type of thick spaghetti, and in this classic Roman dish, it’s combined with a spicy tomato sauce and smoky guanciale (cured pork cheek). The humble combination of flavors packs a punch of flavor, making this a go-to favorite.
- Cacio e Pepe: Traditionally, this Roman dish uses the same pasta and cheese combination as carbonara, but it forgoes the pork and uses plenty of black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil for a bright, zesty flavor.
- Saltimbocca: This deceptively simple dish relies on a few prime ingredients. Soft, thin slices of veal are wrapped around smoked prosciutto and sage, and then fried in olive oil and butter. Bite-sized and practically melt-in-your-mouth, this dish is worth the visit to Rome alone.
- Trippa alla Romana: Trippa alla Romana is a savory-sweet stew of cow tripe, marinara sauce, Parmigiano-Reggiano and red wine. It’s a delicious medley of flavors, and it’s an easy reason to try something outside your comfort zone.
- supplì: Crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey in the center, supplì are deep-fried balls of arborio rice. They’re stuffed with mozzarella and often feature some type of tomato sauce or meat, making them a fun Italian delicacy.
These are just a few of the authentic delicious specialties that Rome’s trattorias have to offer. For a true taste of the Eternal City, take a daring bite of each of these classic Roman favorites!
5. Tips for Enjoying Rome’s Vibrant Dining Scene
1. Visit Trattorias & Grottos: Take the opportunity to experience why Italy is known for its cuisine by eating at trattorias and grottos located all around Rome. From family-run trattorias to exclusive grottos, there’s something for every taste. Taste the traditional flavors embodied in Roman cuisine such as cacio e pepe and carbonara.
2. Ancient Recipes Reimagined: In recent years, Rome’s food scene has evolved and cultures collide with influences from around the world. Enjoy a fusion of different flavors and modern interpretations of ancient recipes at chic restaurants in the city.
3. Walk Around Food Markets: Explore markets such as Campo dei Fiori, where it’s an attraction for tourists and locals alike. There’s also Porta Portese on Sundays, the largest market in Italy, where you can enjoy foods from various cuisines at a very affordable price.
4. Street-side Snacking: Walk around Rome’s many narrow streets and discover the pleasure of snacking along the way. Taste different traditional savory snacks like supplì, baccalà, and porchetta. Don’t forget to keep your eyes open as you wander around for you never know what unexpected and tasty treat you might find.
5. Take Time to Relax: Your vacation in Rome can be a great opportunity to relax and enjoy the special dishes that the city offers. Take your time to savor courses and let the flavors linger as you enjoy a traditional Italian meal with friends and family. You might even find a great spot in a local piazza to pamper yourself with a delicious slice of pizza and a glass of prosecco.
6. A Look at Rome’s Vast Variety of Wines
Rome offers an incredible pool of wines showcasing the rich Italian culture and traditions. Perhaps the most famous of these is the glorious Amarone, produced near the Alps in Valpolicella. The result is a bold, full-bodied red with intense flavors of dried fruit and spice.
Moving away from Veneto, the Campania region’s volcanic soils create an ideal blend of aromas and rich palate in its reds. Aglianico del Vulture is a popular DOCG among natives, a dark and bold red derived from the acidic volcanic soils of Mt. Vulture. The Greco di Tufo DOCG is also a popular choice, a vibrant yet balanced white wine, often served as an aperitif with light snacks.
The wines of Lazio are particularly interesting, due to their ancient Roman origin. Cesanese is a deep red hailing from the hills around Frascati and Montecompatri, with bright notes of cherries, plums and just a hint of earthiness. The area is also home to Est! Est!! Est!!!; a zesty and lively white, great for a summer evening aperitif.
Diving further south takes us to Sicily, the home of Marsala and Nero d’Avola. These two well-known wines have gained global recognition for their distinct aromas and flavors. Both are amazing companion for abounding flavors of the Mediterranean’s seafood-inspired cuisine.
Clearly, Rome stands out for its magnificent variety of wine, from classic Italian choices to lesser-known regions. For those seeking an enriching culinary experience, you don’t want to miss out on sampling the bountiful range of Rome’s flavorful wines! Rome’s flavorful food scene is a paradise for food lovers. From unique street-side markets to mouthwatering, classic Italian specialties, there is something for everyone in Rome. Next time you’re visiting, make sure you take the time to revel in its delicious culinary offerings. Bon appetito!