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Italian gelato, one of the typical foods in Rome, held at Piazza Navona

5 Must-Try Foods in Rome

When you think about Rome, you immediately think about pizza, pasta and, of course, gelato! Rome is a foodie paradise. But because there are so many options, you may not know which ones to try. So here is a list of the 5 foods you have to try in Rome and the best Roman restaurants to eat them!

Cacio e Pepe

 

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If you’re a cheese lover, then this is a food you have to try in Rome. Cacio e Pepe is a plate of pasta accompanied only by cheese and pepper. Yes, you’ve read correctly, just cheese and pepper. But don’t underestimate its deliciousness. This ancient Roman dish is made with Pecorino cheese and will keep you coming back for more.

TAKEAWAY: The origin of this dish dates back to when shepherds had to head to the Apennine Mountains and camp there. Dried pasta, aged pecorino and black peppers were ingredients easy to carry and to prepare. Plus, this recipe didn’t need oil or butter for the sauce, so cacio e pepe was the perfect meal to cook in the mountains.

The type of pasta normally used for this classic Roman dish nowadays is spaghetti. Though it is said that the original pasta for this dish is tonnarelli, we can also find it made with rigatoni or bucatini. My restaurant of choice is Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere.

Amatriciana

This sauce, as you can tell by its name, originates from a small town called Amatrice. Made with pork, Pecorino cheese, and tomatoes, this Lazio region pasta is one of the best-known dishes in Rome. There may be variations on the recipe like adding onion or garlic, but either way, you’ll love it!

The Amatriciana pasta derives from the “Cucina Povera” or poor cuisine. Hence, it is one of the most popular dishes among locals, since it’s accessible to everyone. You can also find a vegetarian version of this dish in many Italian restaurants.

Different types of pasta can be used for the pasta all’ Amatriciana like spaghetti or bucatini. However, in Leonardi’s recipe, the famous Roman chef who served the dish at a banquet at the Quirinal Palace, it is written that he used macaroni. Have a taste of this simple but overly delicious dish in Tonnarello at Trastevere.

Pizza

 

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Last but not least, another food you have to try in Rome is pizza. Pizza in Italy can be very different depending on which region you’re eating it in. In Rome, we like our pizza thin and crunchy! Some of the best pizzas you’ll try are the classic Margherita and the Bufala. If you’re feeling like taking more of a risk and spicing things up, you can always try the Lingua de Foco at Dar Poeta in Trastevere. This spicy pizza has salami and hot peppers for those who crave a kick to their meals.

If you find yourself hungry in the middle of the day but don’t have enough time to stop and sit down for lunch, the pizza al taglio is what you need. This to-go pizza style consists of square-shaped pizza slices, ideal for exploring the Eternal City on-the-go. It will be easy to spot places that sell pizza al taglio in Rome, mainly because they’re almost everywhere!

Melanzane Alla Parmigiana

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to the famous lasagna, this dish is your answer. Made of sliced eggplant, layered cheese, and tomato sauce, this delicious recipe will cure your cravings for lasagna. In the preparation for melanzane alla parmigiana, the eggplant is sliced thinly and then fried in olive oil. Another version of the dish grills the eggplant slices.

There is controversy regarding where this dish originates. Some claim it is from Parma in the north of Italy, where parmesan, one of the main ingredients, originates from. Others say it is from southern Italy, specifically from Sicily. When in Rome, try the one in La Tavernaccia in Trastevere.

Gelato

 

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Gelato had to be on the list! No matter the season, winter or summer, you’ll always find open gelaterias in Rome. Make sure you know which ones serve traditional and artisanal gelato. You want to get the real deal!

Many people don’t know the difference between real Italian gelato and ice cream. If you want to try authentic gelato, then there are some key factors you should look for. Gelato doesn’t use artificial coloring or ingredients. If you find bright colors and fancy flavors like cotton candy, this is not your typical Italian gelato.

Instead, search for seasonal flavors. Some of our favorite flavors are Nocciola and Coconut. I recommend you Otaleg, a small gelato place in the Trastevere neighborhood or Bivrido, in the foodie district of Testaccio. They even have vegan options!

There is no better way to explore a new place than through food, especially in a city like Rome. There are many great local restaurants around the city that offer delicious local foods and at an affordable price. If you’re on a foodie quest, then the neighborhoods of Trastevere and Testaccio must be on your list. A couple more tips, if you’re in the area of Testaccio don’t miss their food market. There are many stands that offer some of the best local food. If you decide to choose Trastevere, join one of the food tours that take place in this foodie district!

About Vania Bravo

I am a Peruvian who decided to make Europe her home! I love the fact that in Europe you can travel almost anywhere in just a couple of hours. That's why most of my time I like to book a flight or a train somewhere just for the weekend. Coming from a top culinary destination like Peru, I love to explore the world through food. Currently, I'm working as a content creator at The Roman Guy, a travel company with operations in Italy and Paris.

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