You are finally planning your holiday in Rome. Well done to you!
You will love the walks in Trastevere, the Vatican Museums and the Colosseum, and most importantly, the delicious Italian food. Pizza or pasta, anyone?
Italian food is not only pasta or pizza as many of you may think. So, what to eat in Rome?
In every Italian region, you will find different dishes. During your trip to Rome, you are going to eat so many delicious sweet and savoury dishes that you will probably end up wanting to prolong your stay, trust me!
And in this article, you will find exactly what to eat in Rome.
As Italy's capital, you couldn't expect less than find excellent food available everywhere; this is precisely what you will find in Rome.
There is the typical Italian food available and Roman cuisine. It is so delicious you will want to extend your holiday to have extra days just to try everything this historic city offers.
That's why I create this very long list of all the delicacies I recommend you try while visiting Rome. And please, while in Rome, forget about the diet, and enjoy your holiday. Roman's food is worth a couple of kilograms more. You can always lose them later!
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Read 28 Delicious Food and Drinks to Try in Rome Below
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Let's start with the antipasti/starters
Formaggi / Cheese
This cheese is fat, hard, medium and long matured.
It has a name that does not identify the capital of Italy but the history, in particular that of the Roman army. It is made with sheep's milk in the Lazio and Sardinia region and the province of Grosset in Tuscany. The seasoning period is 5 months and, in some cases, in Lazio, it takes place in Etruscan-Roman tuff caves. It has a medium-high aromatic intensity. Particularly recognizable for its high salty taste. You can also find many other kinds of Pecorino cheese from almost everywhere in Italy, so try them and choose which one is your favourite.
Fat cheese, short or medium-aged, semi-hard, spun paste.
It is a cow or buffalo cheese that maintains the traditions of Lazio spun pasta. It also ages six months and becomes spicy.
It can also be smoked.
Formaggio di Capra:
Fat, fresh or short-aged cheese, soft or semi-hard.
Made with goat's milk. It comes in new and seasoned types and can be flavoured with chilli.
It is a fat cheese, with a short, medium or long maturation, with a hard, spun paste.
It is a very ancient southern Italian cheese, so old that it was mentioned by Hippocrates and consumed by Cardinal Ruffo.
The seasoning time varies from 1 to 6 months, it can also occur in the cave for several years.
There are different types of buffalo and cow, and they have other seasonings and smoked.
This cheese is low-fat, fresh cheese with a soft and creamy texture.
It is typically produced in Lazio and comes from the whey of sheep's milk of various breeds. Fresh dairy product with a truncated cone shape, characterized by a low-intensity pecorino lactic aroma.
Lean, short-matured, hard cheese.
Anciently produced especially in northern Italy, where the sale of fresh Ricotta was difficult, it was used to place this excellent dairy product on metal racks, near a hearth or in suitable environments, where the smoke from the wood, which burned to heat the environment, slowly dried the product.
It is one of my favourite cheeses to grate over pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin gnocchi.
Fat, fresh, short and medium seasoned cheese, soft or hard.
Made with cow's or sheep's milk, it can be consumed as "the first salt" or seasoned for six months. It is one of my favourites. Grilled on a toast it is delicious.
Fat, fresh, soft cheese.
Stracchino originates in the north of Italy, then the recipe was also incorporated in the centre of Italy.
In Lazio, it is made with goat's milk but can also be made with cow's milk.
It is another of my favourites because it is perfect for those on a diet, thanks to its low-calorie content. Ideal spread on bread.
Burrata di Bufala:
This is a fat, fresh, spun paste cheese mixed with cream.
Produced with buffalo milk in the territory of the province of Rome in limited quantities. It is cheese-filled with strips of cheese and cream. Absolutely to try but be careful because it can create an addiction to how good it is.
Fat, fresh, semi-hard, spun cheese.
Produced already in the early 1800s but registered in 1940. The dairy technique is ancient and has remained so. It can be eaten fresh but also stuffed with black olives or anchovies. Variations, such as the smoked one, can often be found on pizza or sandwiches.
Salumi / Cured Meat
Guanciale di Maiale:
The Guanciale is the consequence of processing a pig's cheek, either from the throat or from the neck.
The Guanciale is the true king of the ingredients for the carbonara, also present in the original recipe for amatriciana pasta.
The pancetta is obtained from the belly of the pig, which is then salted, spiced and seasoned. It can be rolled or pickled, and its season lasts 50 to 120 days.
Porchetta is a savoury, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast. The carcass is deboned, can be stuffed with liver, wild fennel, all fat and skin still on the spit, and or roasted, traditionally over wood for at least 8 hours. It is delicious in a sandwich or as a second course with roasted potatoes.
Capocollo is the boned neck of pork flavoured and wrapped by hand, it has a pronounced and decisive taste.
Raw ham is a preserved meat, a raw cured meat, seasoned, not stuffed and almost completely coated. Raw ham comprises the pork leg with bone and the external rind. The raw ham is covered with "lard" at the cutting points as an effective preservative.
Cooked ham is a preserved meat, more precisely a cooked salami that is not bagged and partially covered with rind.
It is composed of boned pork leg.
This salami is a salami flavoured with fennel seeds. It has a different taste worth a try.
Lonza di Maiale:
This is a top-quality seasoned product. It is obtained with the pig's best and most genuine parts and represents one of the best-known products for local tasting. Sometimes enriched with wild fennel.
It is the richest and most valuable part of the pig's leg. National product, boned before seasoning, average weight 5/6 kg, average seasoning 12 months.
Mortadella is a large Italian sausage made of ground heat-cured pork, which includes at least 15% small cubes of pork fat. It is usually flavoured with black pepper grains, or my favourite contains pistachios.
Tips: You will find any cheese and cured meat as a starter in any Italian restaurant.
But if you are looking for a wider choice and also to save some money, you can always opt to go to a supermarket at the "salumeria" department (or in a Salumeria shop. Where they sell salumi= cured meat).
There you will be able to choose whatever you want to try, and they will cut it on the spot fresh for you. Just grab a bread loaf, and find a park or a quiet place where to sit and enjoy!
Another option to ask in a Roman "salumeria" is the mortadella pizza sandwich. It is a sandwich made with simple pizza dough filled with delicious mortadella.
Tips: While in a restaurant, a good option for you to try different kinds of cheese and cured meat is to ask for an "antipasto misto"(mixed starter).
Carciofi alla Giudia o alla Romana
Giudia artichokes are a typical dish of Judeo-Roman cuisine.
The original recipe basically consists of an artichoke fry.
While the Roman artichokes are clean, filled with bread, garlic and mints and cooked upside down in a pot with the addition of oil, water and white wine.
Plan Your Vacation in Rome in the Best Way
Check out all my articles in the "Most Complete Guide of Rome" and get all the information you need to make your next travel a success.
Suppli al Telefono
Commonly called as in the Roman and Lazio tradition, it is "supplì on the phone".
This derives from the fact that to eat it hot, as is tradition, it must be opened in two, and the stringy mozzarella creates a "thread" between the two parts of rice, making it look like a phone. be careful not to burn your tongue.
You will find many versions, but the original is with tomato risotto and mozzarella inside.
If you share it, you can try different variants, so go for it and think about your diet tomorrow. You are on vacation after all. Enjoy it!
Trapizzino in Rome is a sort of white triangle pizza pocket. It is stuffed with the typical dishes of the Roman tradition: eggplant parmigiana, with artichokes, meatballs, tongue sauce in green sauce, burrata, stracciatella, scapece zucchini or Roman tripe.
This is an easy way to eat something good without having to sit in a restaurant, if the weather is good, this can be an excellent option to eat while exploring Rome.
Primi Piatti / First courses
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Carbonara is absolutely one of my favourite pasta dishes and one of the best pasta in Rome. It is made with egg, hard cheese (Pecorino or Parmigiano), cured pork (Guanciale is the best but if you don't have it, smoked pancetta will work well too), and a lot of black pepper.
There is no cream in the authentic recipe; only the yolk has to be used.
If you find it with other ingredients than these, it is not a real Carbonara, so keep an eye open to the menu ingredients.
Rigatoni con la Pajata
Rigatoni (a kind of pasta) con la pajata is a classic dish of Roman cuisine. You can find it in some traditional trattorias. Pajata is the name for the intestines of an unweaned calf, only fed with its mother's milk. The intestines are cleaned and skinned, but the chyme is left inside.
Honestly, I have never tried it, so I cannot tell you much about it, but I added it to the list because it is a very typical dish, so it is up to you if you want to try it. Let me know if you like it.
Pasta alla Matriciana
Amatriciana is a typically Roman dish and consists of a sauce for seasoning pasta made with tomato, bacon and pecorino cheese (and if you also like chilli pepper). The best pasta to use is bucatini, but spaghetti or rigatoni are also good.
The name derives from the city of Amatrice, a town in the province of Rieti. Before the amatriciana, there was the famous gricia, the white version of the Lazio sauce without tomato.
Pasta all'arrabbiata is a traditional dish of pasta with a sauce made with tomato, oil, lots of garlic and lots of chilli pepper. It is called arrabbiata (angry) because it can be so spicy that after eating a plate, your face may turn red and therefore, it will seem that you are angry.
Spaghetti cacio e pepe
This is a very simple dish but when in Rome you have to try it. Cacio e Pepe is made using spaghetti or tonnarelli pasta, with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper. You will find it in most typical Roman restaurants, so give it a try.
It doesn't taste like pasta with Parmigiano if this is what you are thinking about it. Trust me, the taste of the pecorino cheese is much stronger. If you like cheese, you will love it!
Do I have to explain to you what a pizza is? I don't think so.
Of course, in Italy, you will taste the real pizza with all different Italian versions, so go ahead and eat, try everything, but please don't ask for bbq sauce or ketchup because it would be really a shame to ruin a delicious dish like this.
In Rome, the most famous pizza is "pizza al taglio" which means "pizza by the slice". You are going to find many places where to eat pizza al taglio in Rome.
They serve different kinds of pizza, like pizza bianca (only dough), pizza rossa (with only tomato sauce), Margherita and then many other versions with various toppings, so pick whatever you like and enjoy.
If you like it spicy, ask for some "olio piccante" (chilly oil) and enjoy!
Pomodori Gratinati Ripieni
Another typical Roman dish is the stuffed tomatoes au gratin. A summer delight to be enjoyed alone or with other grilled or baked vegetables. It is not exactly a first course but rather a single dish.
They are tomatoes filled with boiled rice, potatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper and olive oil. There are many other Italian versions, like ham or mortadella, minced meat or bread.
Secondi Piatti / Second courses
Saltimbocca alla Romana
Literally means "jumps in your mouth", Saltimbocca alla Romana is a second meat dish typical of Lazio cuisine (the region of Rome).
They are slices of veal covered with prosciutto crudo and sage cooked for a few minutes with the addition of white wine!
A delicious and fast dish that "jumps in your mouth" for how good it is!
Abbacchio alla Scottadito
Scottadito lamb is a typical Easter recipe from Lazio. The lamb chops, which are tender and tasty (if possible cooked on the grill), are to be tasted very hot. For this reason, they are called "scottadito" because you burn your fingers.
Abbacchio Fritto Panato
This is another delicacy. Honestly, I prefer this version to the grilled one. I don't usually eat fried food, but breaded deep-fried lamb chops are a must to try.
Coda alla vaccinara
Another one of my favourite recipes ever. The vaccinara tail is a typical dish of Roman cuisine, consisting of the bovine tail (usually ox) stewed and topped with various vegetables.
It is a bit heavy dish to eat at dinner, especially if accompanied by an "antipasto" and a "primo piatto", but you will be in Rome on vacation, so I recommend you take a nice walk around the centre after dinner and maybe stop for a good liqueur to digest.
I fagioli con le cotiche
This is more of a winter dish. It is a stew made with beans and pork rinds. It is delicious and will warm you up after hours of walking in the cold.
Trippa alla Romana
This typical Roman dish can also be found throughout the rest of Italy, it is one of my father's favourites. It was a poor dish prepared with the less valuable cuts of beef.
Tripe is obtained from the belly, consisting of the three forestomachs of the bovine.
In ancient times in Rome, the tripe was eaten for lunch on Saturdays and "Saturday Tripe" can still be read in some restaurants.
In addition to the main ingredient, there are also tomato puree, fresh mint and a generous sprinkling of grated pecorino romano. Another ingredient that can be added to enhance its flavour, even more is a bit of pancetta which will make everything even tastier.
Il Baccala' Fritto in Pastella
This is one of the most typical and traditional recipes you can find in Rome as street food.
Convenient to eat while walking to discover the enchanting streets of the city. It is fried cod.
Insalata di Puntarella
Puntarelle are Catalonian chicory sprouts, mainly grown in Lazio and in some areas of Campania, excellent to be eaten raw with tiny anchovies. You can find them in many Roman recipes. Try them because they are delicious.
Pumpkin flowers fried
This is a must to try in Rome. It is one of my favourites; you can get it as a starter or side dish. They can be empty or filled with mozzarella and anchovies.
Dolci / Sweets
Crostata di Visciole alla Romana
Visciole are Roman cherries, small and sour.
This is a delicious tart that you can find in most of the bakeries in Rome.
It can be made in different versions, but it is always delicious, so if you find it, try it and enjoy it!
Don't forget to read " The Most Local Places Where to Have Breakfast in Rome".
Maritozzo alla Panna
Maritozzo con la Panna is a dessert from Lazio with a long history and a tradition that dates back to ancient Rome. Maritozzo is a simple dessert that can also be eaten for breakfast, consisting of a soft and not too sweet bun, sometimes enriched with raisins and pine nuts, which are then stuffed with whipped cream.
What can I say about it? Well, see the bright side. You will walk all day and burn many calories, so don't feel guilty and try it. You can still start a diet when you are back home. Now it's the right time to eat all the delicious Roman food.
The delicious Italian dessert is made with savoiardi cookies, mascarpone cheese, eggs and sugar. In Rome, you will find it in many different versions, like strawberry, Nutella, pistachio, etc.
Check my article "The Most Famous Places Where to Eat Tiramisu in Rome".
Everybody knows that the best Gelato is in Italy, and you will be in the Capital of Italy, so enjoy all the Gelato available and all the different flavours always made with fresh ingredients.
In my article "The Best Gelato Spots in Rome", you will find all the places to indulge in delicious gelato.
Bevande / Drinks
Grattachecca is a cold drink originating in Rome. You can buy it in some kiosks and bars. It consists of hand-shaved ice flavoured with various flavours of sweet syrup.
Nowadays, some grattachecca vendors use a mechanical ice crusher rather than shaving or grating the ice by hand.
It is a perfect solution for the hot summers in Rome, to refresh yourself after exploring and walking. There are many famous places to get it. I went to "La Sora Mirella".
It is located on Lungotevere degli Anguillara, in front of Tiberina Island, near Trastevere, and I found it delicious.
You will be in Italy, and hopefully, you like wine so ask your waiter/sommelier which wine goes best with your meal, and you will drink delicious Italian wine.
Do you like Wine?
If the answer is Yes! Check out the wine tasting available in Rome here.
Liquori tipici Laziali/Local Lazio's Liqueurs
There are many typical liqueurs of the Lazio region, the region of beautiful Rome.
To try absolutely my mom's favourite liqueur, the gentian liqueur, is inevitable at the end of the meal. It has an amber colour and an intensely bitter taste. It is made with gentian roots.
My favourite, the strawberry liqueur, is made with strawberries.
Nocino liqueur, made with walnuts. The Mistra ' is made with star anise and other natural flavours and the Sambuca liqueur with an aniseed flavour.
Of course, you will also find the famous Limoncello, but that is originally from southern Italy.
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