Rome is a foodie’s paradise, offering some incredible dishes and a vast selection of great restaurants. Here’s our guide to some lovely eateries, must-try foods and great places to drink in Rome.
Where to Eat in Rome
There are some great foodie districts in Rome, our favourite of which were Testaccio and Trastevere. Testaccio in the south of the centre used to be home to Rome’s working class. It’s less attractive than other parts of Rome but it has a great food scene that’s worth exploring.
Trastevere is an area whose narrow cobbled streets come alive at night with the buzz of people. Located on the West bank of the river Tiber, the choice of ivy-covered restaurants here is huge – as is the potential to people-watch.
Essenza wine bar
Although essentially a wine bar, Essenza served us one of our favourite meals in Rome. Situated in the charming streets of Trastevere, a glass of good wine is guaranteed here. The cheese and meat platter at Essenza was incredible. The blue cheese was served with a side of chocolate and a tiny grater. It turns out that a fine grating of good-quality chocolate does wonderful things to a pungent blue cheese. Other cheeses were served with a drizzle of marmalade – a combination that also worked surprisingly well.
Address: Via della Scala, 27a/28, 00153.
The Coromandel is ideal for a breakfast or brunch, or a cup of tea and slide of cake in a charismatic environment. It provides a relaxing start to the day if you plan to explore the nearby Piazza Navona area. The breakfast here was quite expensive compared with other venues but it was good-quality food that kept us full for hours.
Address: Via di Monte Giordano, 60, 00186.
Mercato Centrale Roma is a food market housing an impressive line-up of Rome’s best food producers, located within the Roma Termini main train station. It opened in October 2016 and features cheese, pasta, fish, and bread & pizzas from the like of renowned pizza maker, Gabriele Bonci. A great pit stop to grab breakfast or lunch on the go.
Address: Terrazza Termini Stazione Con Vista, Roma Termini, Via Giovanni Giolitti, 36, 00185.
Foods to Try in Rome
Suppli is similar to Sicilian arancini (deep fried risotto balls often containing cheese) and can be found across Rome in many flavours. It is considered to be one of the best street food offerings in Rome.
Suppli can be found at most delis and pizzerias in Rome and are eaten as a starter or a snack. Our favourite was a salty blue cheese suppli, with a spaghetti bolognese suppli coming in at close second.
Artichokes feature heavily on Roman menus and are a particular favourite in the Jewish quarter. They are prepared in two ways, the Jewish style (alla giudia) is to deep fry the entire artichoke. Aside from many good restaurants in the Jewish Quarter, Restaurant Flavio Al Velavevodetto in Testaccio is a good bet to order this dish, as Flavio is meticulous about using only seasonal and local artichokes. The artichoke here was deliciously crispy with golden crunchy petals.
The other method of serving artichoke is alla Romana, whereby the artichoke is stuffed with garlic and a local wild mint and is braised in olive oil and white wine. This dish is usually found on menus in Rome in Spring.
It goes without saying that the pizza in Rome is incredible. Two pizzerias stood out to us.
Tucked behind the Vatican is a Pizzarium Bonci, which serves up – according to the Guardian – some of the most exciting pizzas in Rome. Headed by Gabriele Bonci, this understated restaurant serves scissor-cut slices of pizza that are priced by weight.
Gabriele takes great pride in his dough and offers twice-monthly pizza classes to teach the secrets of his trade. We tried three flavours at Pizzarium Bonci, a simple cheese and tomato, a ham and pumpkin pizza and a sausage and mushroom pizza that was deliciously memorable. The food is eaten at stand-up tables in front of the shop in this no-frills establishment, and it certainly was the best pizza we tried in Rome. The location is ideal for a post- or pre-Vatican City visit too.
Addreess: Via della Meloria, 43, 00136.
Another pizza venue that stood out to us was Pizza Florida, located close to the Jewish Quarter of Rome. At the time of writing it sits within the top twenty of all restaurants in Rome on TripAdvisor and is an incredibly cheap and tasty option for lunch. Similar to Pizzaium Bonci, Pizza Florida offers scissor-cut slices and again you can mix and match flavours. We shared three slices, including an interestingly topped slice with potato. For three pieces of pizza each, and two large beers it was excellent value at 11 Euros.
Address: Via Florida, 25, 00186.
A truly Roman carbonara contains only four key ingredients – pasta, eggs, pecorino Romano (sheep’s milk cheese), and cured pork cheek (guanciale). A little black pepper and white wine is usually also added to taste.
We tried the award-winning carbonara at the aforementioned Flavio Al Velavevodetto in Testaccio (claimed to be the best carbonara in Rome) and it didn’t disappoint. The combination of tubular rigatoni with fatty pork cheek was a real winner and definitely worth travelling to Testaccio for.
Address: Via di Monte Testaccio, 97, 00153.
Thin slices of veal wrapped with prosciutto and sage, served in a white wine sauce makes a welcome change to pizza and pasta dishes. It’s a flavourful dish (saltimbocca literally means, “jump in your mouth”) that can be found on many Roman menus and tasted so good that we’ll be re-creating it back home.
Where to Drink in Rome
Cavour wine bar
Cavour 313 in the heart of the Monti district, has a wine cellar with over 1,000 bottles of wine. It was founded in 1935 and offers a few plates of typically Roman food, but the focus here really is on the wine. The extensive wine list was reasonably priced and Cavour is conveniently located close to the Colosseum and Roman Forum.
Address: Via Cavour 313.
L’Oasi della Birra
The ‘Oasis of Beer’ is Testaccio offers over 500 brews and serves products of Italian microbreweries such as the award-winning Menabrea. We fell in love with the Vacanze Romane for its charming label as much as the lovely beer.
Address: Piazza Testaccio, 38/41, 00153.
Where would you recommend to eat in Rome and what is your favourite dish? Leave your comments below.
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