Rome’s cuisine reflects the spirit of the city itself: straightforward yet nuanced, approachable yet elegant, traditional yet cutting-edge. Just a few ingredients are combined to create simple dishes that are served in Michelin-starred ristoranti and neighborhood trattorie. Here’s how to experience Rome’s proud food culture.
Pasta reigns supreme in Rome, and the lion’s share of the city’s most classic dishes are primi, or first courses. You can’t leave the city without sampling at least one of its four fundamental pasta dishes: pasta alla gricia, a short or long pasta tossed with pecorino romano (aged sheep cheese) and guanciale (cured pork cheek); bucatini all’amatriciana, similar to pasta alla gricia, but with tomatoes added to the cheese and pork; spaghetti alla carbonara, long pasta tossed with pecorino romano, guanciale, eggs, and cracked pepper; and cacio e pepe, long or short pasta tossed with pecorino romano and cracked pepper.
If you’re not a fan of pasta, don’t despair. Other options range from Rome’s popular street food treat of supplì—fried rice balls mixed with tomato sauce, ground meat, or mozzarella—to rich secondi, second course meat dishes such as veal saltimbocca (pounded veal, wrapped in prosciutto) and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew). One of Rome’s most historic cuisines is found in the Jewish Ghetto, where restaurants serve up carciofi alla giudìa (fried artichokes), baccalà all’ebraica (fried codfish), and other traditionally kosher dishes.
- Browse the stalls piled high with fresh fruit and vegetables, local meat, sheep cheeses, and Mediterranean fish at one of Rome’s neighborhood markets on a guided tour.
- Begin the day with the Roman breakfast of champions: a cappuccino and maritozzo (sweet bun filled with whipped cream) at a bustling corner bar.
- Experience one of Rome’s most unique and historic cuisines on a food tour of the Jewish Ghetto, stopping in at kosher food shops, family-run delis, and landmark Jewish restaurants.
- Learn how to reproduce one of Rome’s classic pasta dishes by joining a pasta cooking class with a local chef.
- Savor the magic of Rome after sundown with a tour of Rome by night paired with dinner, a wine tasting, or a stop for pizza and gelato.