Roman cuisine
Updated last month

Let's talk about food. Like the biggest capitals of the world, Rome is packed with restaurants and fast-food chains one can indulge in to fully experience traditional Roman cuisine, regardless of whether they are locals or foreign visitors. The Mediterranean culture is deeply rooted in Rome and has consequently influenced culinary trends that can be seen in the Ristorante, Pizzeria and Osteria across the Eternal City.

The Italian menu

Italian menus are quite different from other European cuisines. They come in the following order:

  • Antipasto: Starters
  • Primo: Pasta and Risotto
  • Secondo and Contorno: Meat or fish-based recipes accompanied with vegetables or potatoes
  • Dolce: Desserts

Primo and Secondo do not apply in case you choose a pizza as it is considered a full meal.

Roman specialities

Although it is part of Italy, Rome has its very own palette of traditional dishes. From mouth-watering cod fillets (filetti di Baccalà) to the Puntarelle, an endive-based dish served with anchovies, white vinegar and olive oil, Rome has got wonderful flavours for you to discover. Roman Artichokes (carciofi alla Romana) are also very popular, especially the fried Jewish styled ones (carciofi alla Giudea). Artichokes are usually harvested between February and April and are only served during this short period as they are served fresh.

If you are a meat lover, you absolutely need to try the Abbachio alla Scottadito - a plate of grilled chops sprinkled with thyme, tarragon and rosemary – or the Coda alla Vaccinara, a braised oxtail stew served with vegetables. Other favourite dishes that will tantalise your tastebuds on Italian restaurant menus are the Roman-style chicken and tripe, the Saltimbocca alla Romana, veal cutlets topped with a slice of ham or the famous Porchetta Romena, grilled pig meat-based dish you can have with either bread or as topping for your Pizza Bianca.

Obviously, you simply cannot head to Rome and not taste the pride of Roman Gastronomy: Pasta. Penne and Rigatoni are commonly served in the culinary styles mentioned below:

  • Carbonara: A salted and peppered egg-based stew made of Pecorino Romeno cheese and Guanciale (salted pork cheek).
  • Amatriciana: A sauce recipe that originates from a city called Amatrice. The ingredients used are Guanciale, Pecorino Romeno, salt, pepper, tomatoes and chilli.
  • Cacio e Pepe: A salted and peppered sauce served with Pecorino Romeno cheese.
  • Gricia: Gricia sauce includes similar ingredients to the Cacio e Pepe.
  • Gnocchi alla Romana: Potato gnocchi baked in the oven with butter and Pecorino Romeno spread.

You will notice that similar ingredients are used in most dishes although they are prepared differently and used in different amounts. For instance, Guanciale can be replaced with Pancetta, salted pig belly and the types of pasta used can vary from one restaurant to another.


Pizza is probably one of the most common and most popular dishes in Rome. The Pizza al Taglio is a quick meal you can grab almost everywhere across the city and so are the Suppli, rice dumplings covered in and/ or filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Pizza Bianca and Mortadella Pizza are an absolute must-try!

Traditional pizzas are round in shape, and the dough tends to be thinner and crispier as compared to the pizzas you may find in the city of Naples. Although the ingredients are the same, the options for the fillings are unlimited!

Pastries and Ice creams

Pastries are an essential element in traditional Roman cuisine. In bars and bakeries, you will often come across the Maritozzi – tiny sweet pieces of bread with a cream filling. During the carnival season, you can taste the Frappe and in March the Zeppola di San Giuseppe, a cream cake served on St Joseph’s Day. Both are either fried or baked. Romans are also fond of tarts like the Crostata. These come in many flavours such as the ricotta or with cherries. Furthermore, you cannot visit Rome and not taste the Gelato - an Italian ice cream known around the whole world.

Where to taste traditional Roman cuisine

Rom is packed with authentic restaurants where you can indulge in local flavours. Staying away from tourist avenues like the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, the Piazza Navona or the Piazza di Spagna can help avoid fast food chains and find local gems. However, some restaurants in the historical centre are trendy for their luxurious and refined restaurants. Some of them are the Antica Birreria Peroni- located on the Via S. Marcello, right between the Piazza Venezia and the Trevi Fountain -

Or the Maccheroni, Piazza delle Coppelle. One of the most famous restaurants to eat the authentic Carbonara is La Carbonara, located in Monti on the Via Panisperna. In Trastevere, you will find a large choice of restaurants like the Osteria da Zi Umberto at the Piazza di San Giovanni della Malva, the Caius e Gajo found in Piazza di San Callisto or the Impiccetta on the Via dei Fienaroli. In the same neighbourhood, you can have pizza at the Bir & Fud – which is also known for its excellent craft beers, the Via Benedetta. Another reference would be Pizzeria Da Remo – a real landmark known for its tradition Roman pizza which is located on the Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice in the suburb of Testaccio. In Ostiense, more specifically on the Via del Port Fluviale, the Porto Fluviale restaurant offers a variety of Roman and Napolitano pizzas.

In Rome’s ghetto, restaurants like the La Taverna del Ghetto or the Nonna Betta offer traditional Jewish Roman Cuisine. Both are located on the Via del Portico d’Ottavia.

For fully grasp the spirit of the world of the AS Rome Football club, try out the authentic Roman pasta dishes at the Core de Rome. The restaurant is located in the neighbourhood in which famous football player Francesco Totti grew up and is a kind of museum too.

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