Traditional Roman food to try

What to try and where to try traditional food in Rome?

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13 dishes to try in Rome

1. Amatriciana

Amatriciana is a delicious sauce for pasta that has a tomato base and is flavored by guanciale – cured pork cheek. The sauce is most commonly paired with a thick spaghetti, like noodles, which carries the sauce well.

A great place to try this dish is Trattoria Vecchia Roma, a popular restaurant located walking distance from the Colosseum. Given its popularity, do make a reservation.

2. Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Carbonara is one of my favorite pasta sauces that is deceptively simple. Egg, pepper, pancetta, parmesan and pecorino romano cheeses make up this delicious sauce.

La Carbonara, a restaurant named after the dish, is the perfect place to try carbonara. The restaurant is located just north of the Colosseum and perfectly situated in Central Rome.

3. Cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe is another simple but delicious pasta. The sauce is made with cacio cheese, also known as pecorino romano, black pepper, and pasta water.

Trattoria Vecchia Romagna is also known for its great cacio e pepe pasta. Located so close to the Colosseum, it’s a convenient location to try two dishes or even return to for another dinner.

4. Carciofi alla romana

Carciofi alla romana is an artichoke dish made by stuffing the artichoke with bread crumbs, mint, parsley, and garlic, before slowly cooking them in olive oil and water. This dish can be tried right in the center of Rome, just steps away from Piazza Venezia, at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali.

5. Trippa alla Romana

Trippa alla Romana is a delicious way of cooking tripe (the parts of an animal usually thrown away), an ingredient that makes most visitors nervous. The tripe is turned into a delectable dish by simmering it in a spicy tomato sauce.

Trattoria Zampagna is a great place to try this. The restaurant is a bit outside of Central Rome, but is located in the lively Ostiense neighborhood which is an adventure in itself.

6. Fiori di Zucca pizza

Fiori di Zucca pizza is a must try when in Rome. Zucchini flower and anchovies (usually places can remove the anchovies if desired) are added to a simple mozzarella base pizza. The best neighborhood to try pizza in Rome is San Lorenzo, located right outside Termini station.

Pizzeria Formula 1 is the best of the best, and serves delightful wood oven pizzas of all sorts. Suppli, a fried rice ball with various fillings, is a great appetizer to eat here.

7. Coda alla Vaccinara

Oxtail stew, cooked with celery, and other vegetables. In the olden days the Quinto Quarto or the 5th part (offals) of the butchered cattle was given to the butcher. This included the oxtail.

8. Puntarelle

The common version is a simple and delicious, leafy salad made of bitter Puntarelle leaves and anchovies, after soaking the leaves in iced water. Perfect accompaniment to anything in the summer.

But Puntarelle is also popular as a topping on pizza!

9. Abbacchio alla scottadito

Lamb done Roman style, there are many versions of this but my favourite is the one done as chops and sprinkled with a variety of herbs, salt, and pepper. This has to be eaten with your fingers.

10. Filetti di baccalà fritti

Crunchy, fried cod fillets fresh from the waters around Rome.

11. Da Danilo

Da Danilo takes the Roman cacio e pepe, but adds guanciale (smoked pork jowl) and egg. This is a fairly light and fresh dish, but with all the comforts of a classic Italian pasta dish. Try this at Trattoria da Danilo where you will find the best guanciale for this dish.

12. Saltimbocca

Make sure you try this meat dish that literally means "jump in your mouth" in the Roman dialect. This is a tasty dish that consists of marinated veal wrapped in prosciutto and sage, then fried in white wine. You can try this around the corner from the Pantheon at Armando al Pantheon.

13. Cicoria Ripassata

Green vegetables are not always the go-to when you are looking for the best food in Rome, but you might change your mind after trying Cicoria Ripassata. These are vegetables sautéed with oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. These tangy morsels can be found throughout the city, but are especially delicious at Zi Umberto.

Also do not forget to try street foods of Rome.

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Recommended answer 2 of 5

Roman Pasta, the most loved food of Rome

As the birthplace of pasta, Italy is well known for its perfection of the pasta making and cooking craft. Romans love their pasta so much that they have a dedicated Pasta Museum (now closed for renovation) which celebrates pasta in all its delicious glory. Do visit the particularly interesting section on how the invention of dry pasta helped in taking pasta all over the world.

Roman Appetizers

A pre-dinner drink like Campari, Vermouth, Negroni, and Aperol Spritz, becomes an aperitivo when it is accompanied by a small starter of cheese, olives, or something like that. Aperitivo hour (generally 7pm-9pm in Rome) is much more than Italy’s version of happy hour.

An aperitivo is a social event. It's where you go on a first date, or to catch up with an old friend. Aperitivo, as a trend, might have started in Turin but is especially strong in Rome.

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Recommended answer 3 of 5

Unique dining at Hostaria Antica Rome

If you want a truly unique Roman dining experience, you will want to head to Hostaria Antica Roma. This restaurant is located along the historic Appian Way, one of the most important roads during the time of the ancient Roman Republic. The restaurant itself is located in a mausoleum that was built over 2000 years ago, and the food reflects this ancient history. As you eat, you are surrounded by ancient art and artefacts, and you can see the oldest cookbook of the world, written in the first century.

The food itself is unique and delicious, and the restaurant is a secret culinary gem. Let the staff choose your starters for you and you will be presented with things like roasted zucchini, seafood salads and bread with homemade garlic cheese. For your mains you will have to try the Ancient Roman Lasagne that has been adapted from the ancient cookbook.

The other place you need to visit is Trapizzino in Testaccio. They sell some of the most delicious sandwiches in Rome. There are many options to choose from, all with delicious combinations of sauces, and flavours like eggplant parmesan, meatballs, and beef in wine sauce.

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Recommended answer 4 of 5
  1. Spaghetti alla Carbonara with egg yolk, guanciale, pecorino romano, salt and pepper.
  2. Rigatoni all'Amatriciana, is short pasta with tomato sauce with bacon and pecorino cheese.
  3. Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe, simple with pecorino romano and pepper.
  4. Carciofo alla giudia, whole fried, without breading, lightly crushed.
  5. Coda alla vaccinara, the dish born in the Rione Regola in the center of Rome, is a stewed oxtail with celery, carrot and onion, with tomato sauce.
  6. Rigatoni with the pajata. The pajata is a part of the small intestine of the ox that is cooked in tomato sauce.
  7. Coratella with artichokes, lamb entrails or chicken with artichokes.
  8. Saltinbocca alla romana, veal slice with a slice of raw ham and sage on top.
  9. Chicken alla Romana, stewed chicken with peppers.
  10. Tripe, pork offal with tomato and mint.
  11. Cuttlefish with stewed peas, in white or tomato
  12. Baccalà alla Romana, stewed with tomatoes and potatoes.
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Recommended answer 5 of 5

Maritozzo con panna

“Maritozzo con panna” is like a brioche with whipped cream. Roman people usually eat it for breakfast of in the afternoon (not everyday because it’s so fat!).

If you are walking in via del Corso, you can go to Giolitti to eat Maritozzo. I said Giolitti because they have homemade whipped cream (not made by machine) and it’s certainly better.

Tonnarelli alla carbonara/ Cacio e pepe

Do you want to eat the best Carbonara/Cacio e pepe you have ever eat? Go to “Maccheroni”! It’s definitely the best and it’s not a tourist restaurant. But, for this Carbonara/Cacio e pepe you have to go here with really much appetite because the portions are huge at this restaurant!

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