10 unmissable foods to try in Rome

Foods to try in Rome Carbonara pasta

Whether you’re a foodie visiting the city for the first time or a local looking for some culinary inspiration, this article will introduce you to 10 unmissable foods to try in Rome. Get ready to drool as we take you on a gastronomic journey through the streets of Rome.

What to Eat in Rome

When it comes to Italian cuisine, Rome is indisputably one of the most revered culinary capitals in the world. As you walk down the magnificent city, you’ll find an abundance of savory specialties that are sure to leave your taste buds tingling with delight.

From classic pasta dishes to meaty mains and refreshing desserts, the city is a paradise for food lovers. So, if you’re planning a trip to the Eternal City, be sure to read on to discover the most popular food in Rome together with some hidden gems you might not know about yet…

10 Foods to Try in Rome

1. Carciofi alla Romana

What to Eat in Rome: Carciofi alla Romana

Carciofi alla romana, also known as Roman-style artichokes, is a popular food in Rome that you will find on any tables in the Eternal City.

Its preparation involves trimming and cleaning fresh artichokes,  stuffing them with a mixture of garlic, parsley, and breadcrumbs, and then slowly simmering the veggie in a flavorful combination of white wine, water, and olive oil until tender and aromatic.

The result is a delicious artichoke with a rich, savory flavor that perfectly complements the stuffing. Carciofi alla romana is often served as a starter or side dish and is a delightful addition to any Italian meal.

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2. Carciofi alla Giudia

Eat in Rome like a Local: Carciofi alla Giudia

Carciofi alla Giudia, also known as Jewish-style artichokes, consists of artichokes that are deep-fried to a golden brown and have a crispy exterior while remaining soft and tender on the inside. The process involves trimming and removing the outer leaves to reveal the heart. The artichokes are then seasoned with garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and dipped in flour before being fried in hot oil until crispy.

Carciofi alla giudia is a most popular appetizer and is often served with a sprinkling of lemon juice. This dish is a perfect balance of saltiness and crispiness, making it an instant crowd-pleaser.

3. Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe popular food in Rome

Cacio e pepe is a classic and simple traditional food in Rome that consists of only three main ingredients: spaghetti, Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper.

The pasta is cooked al dente and then tossed in a sauce made from the cheese and pepper, along with some starchy pasta water to create a creamy consistency.

The dish has been a mainstay in Italian cuisine for generations, originating from the region of Lazio. While seemingly straightforward, the dish can be tricky to perfect as it requires the right balance of cheese and pepper to create a truly delicious and satisfying meal. It is a go-to comfort food for many, and a staple in Italian kitchens worldwide!

4. Amatriciana

Pasta Amatriciana hidden gems in rome food

Among the delicious foods to try in Rome there is Amatriciana, a traditional Italian pasta sauce originating from Amatrice, a town in central Italy. The sauce is made with tomatoes, guanciale (cured pork jowl), pecorino Romano cheese, and chili pepper flakes, giving it a slightly spicy kick.

The sauce is typically served with spaghetti, bucatini, or rigatoni. The richness of the tomato sauce and the saltiness of the cured pork jowl create a savory and complex flavor. Amatriciana sauce has gained popularity around the world as a classic pasta dish.

5. Gricia

What to Eat in Rome: Pasta alla Gricia

Gricia is a simple and delicious dish made with just a few ingredients: pasta, guanciale (a type of cured pork cheek), Pecorino Romano cheese, and black pepper. The dish is typically made by cooking the guanciale until crispy and then mixing it with cooked pasta and a generous amount of grated Pecorino Romano cheese. The dish is finished with a sprinkle of black pepper, creating a creamy and flavorful pasta.

Gricia is a popular food in Rome: you will find it in many restaurants throughout the city! It is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the authentic flavors of Italy.

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6. Carbonara

Best Trattoria in Rome

Carbonara is a most famous classic of Italian cuisine, known across the world. It is believed to have originated in Rome, but its exact birthplace is still uncertain. Typically made with spaghetti, guanciale, grated parmesan, yolks, and black pepper, Carbonara is a popular dish loved for its simplicity and comfort.

The dish’s creamy texture comes from mixing the beaten eggs with cheese, and then adding it to the hot pasta and bacon mixture. The heat from the pasta and bacon cooks the eggs, creating a delicious sauce that coats every strand of spaghetti.

Carbonara can be enjoyed as a quick weekday lunch or as a comforting dinner on a cozy evening.

7. Saltimbocca alla Romana

Among the must-try traditional food in Rome, you can find Saltimbocca alla Romana, a great example of a classic Italian dish that is both simple and delicious.

Originally from Rome, it consists of thin slices of veal or pork, topped with prosciutto and sage leaves, then pan-fried in butter and white wine. It is often served with a side of either steamed or roasted vegetables, potatoes, or a simple green salad.

The name ‘saltimbocca‘ literally means ‘jump in the mouth‘ in Italian, and this dish lives up to its name with its bold and flavorful taste. The dish is believed to have been a favorite of composers Gioachino Rossini and Richard Wagner.

8. Coda alla Vaccinara

Coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail stew) is a traditional Roman dish that has been a popular favorite for centuries. Made with a slow-cooked mix of oxtail, herbs, tomatoes, and vegetables, Coda alla Vaccinara is rich, flavorful, and comforting.

What makes this dish truly unique is the use of unconventional ingredients such as cinnamon, cocoa powder, and pine nuts. These ingredients add an unexpected depth of flavor to the stew, making it a complex and satisfying meal. Whether served with polenta or pasta, Coda alla Vaccinara is a perfect hearty dish for cold winter nights.

9. Trippa alla Romana

Trippa Alla Romana traditional food in Rome

Trippa alla Romana is a traditional food in Rome made from tripe (the stomach lining of a cow), simmered in a tomato-based sauce with vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onions. This hearty dish is full of rich and savory flavors, and it’s often served as a main course accompanied by crusty bread or over a bed of polenta.

Trippa alla Romana has been a staple in Roman cuisine for centuries and is renowned to be an anti-waste dish as it makes use of every part of the animal. Despite its somewhat unusual ingredients, the dish is widely beloved by locals and visitors alike and is considered one of the hidden gems in Rome for anyone looking to immerse themselves in the Italian authentic flavors.

10. Allesso di Bollito

If you’re wondering what to eat in Rome apart from pasta dishes, the answer is Allesso di Bollito, a heartwarming, comforting dish that has been enjoyed for many generations in Italian households. Generally, it includes boiled meat and vegetables. The meat used is usually a tough, cheaper cut like beef shank or brisket, which is then boiled for a long time until it becomes deliciously tender and succulent.

Allesso di Bollito is often served alongside a variety of boiled vegetables such as cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. The broth that the meat and vegetables are cooked in is also a crucial part of the dish, as it is rich in flavor and nutrients.

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Images credits: “Pasta alla carbonara” by gaku // CC BY 2.0; “Trippa Alla Romana” by Calabrotto // CC BY-SA 4.0

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