What to Eat in Rome

what to eat in rome

What to eat in Rome? That’s a question that can make anyone drool. Food is the very essence of the Roman spirit, and no social gathering is complete without it. The practice of using local and seasonal ingredients in cooking has been the norm for countless centuries. The restaurant industry has grown increasingly sophisticated over the years. The traditional no-frills trattorias of Rome remain the ultimate gastronomic destinations, offering the most unforgettable dining experiences. So don’t be shy and dig in. You’ll never regret what to eat in Rome.

What to Eat in Rome

In this guide, I will ll show you the best restaurants; the best vegetarian options and the best times to enjoy each food in Rome. I will also give you an introduction to the Roman food tradition and its history. So get ready to feast your eyes and your stomach on what to eat in Rome.

Roman Cuisine 101

Similar to many Italian cooking styles, the cucina romana (Roman cuisine) came to be through the judicious use of local ingredients Taking advantage of the more affordable cuts of meat, such as guanciale (pig’s jowl), and greens that could be foraged from the fields. Several iconic Roman dishes are served in almost every trattoria and restaurant in Rome, but despite their apparent simplicity, they are notoriously difficult to prepare well, and heavily reliant on carbohydrates for comfort. These dishes include carbonara (pasta with pig’s jowl, egg, and salty pecorino romano cheese, a type of sheep’s milk cheese), alla gricia (with pig’s jowl and onions), amatriciana (created when a chef from Amatrice added tomatoes to alla gricia), and cacio e pepe (with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper).

As delightful and profoundly satisfying as these ageless dishes may be, they are accompanied by centuries-old dining customs that have been scrupulously maintained alongside them. As per tradition, many trattorias in Rome serve up gnocchi (dumplings) only on Thursdays, baccalà with ceci (salted cod with chickpeas) on Fridays, and tripe on Saturdays. These customs have been kept alive to this day, preserving the timeless culinary heritage of the Roman people.

It is worth noting that the cucina romana has always been grounded in practicality, with a keen understanding of the nutritional value of different foods. The cuisine remains true to its roots and history, showcasing the unique flavors of the region, and taking full advantage of the natural bounty of local ingredients. Whether you’re a seasoned foodie or simply curious about the culinary traditions of Rome, the cucina romana offers a truly unforgettable dining experience, steeped in history and tradition.

Best Restaurants in Rome

If you’re a foodie visiting Rome, you’re in for a treat! The city has a thriving restaurant scene with an increasing number of special-occasion, fine-dining spots popping up all over the place. In fact, in 2017 alone, five new chefs in Rome were awarded their first Michelin star, which is a testament to the city’s culinary prowess.

One of the standout restaurants in Rome is All’Oro, run by chef Riccardo di Giacinto. Not only is the food mind-blowing, but he’s also incorporated a stunning boutique hotel into the premises, making it the perfect destination for a foodie getaway. For those looking for a view to go with their meal, Michelin-starred Aroma at Palazzo Manfredi, with its enviable location across from the Colosseum, is a must-visit. Chef Giuseppe Di Iorio’s creations are the talk of the town, as are Francesco Apreda’s dishes at Imàgo, which offer a modern take on traditional Roman cuisine.

Casual Restaurants

If you’re looking for something a bit more casual, there are plenty of options for all-day dining. Check out Baccano, Porto Fluviale, or the multistorey mall Eataly, which has a wide range of restaurants to suit every craving, from fried food to fine dining. And if you want to sample some of the best food Rome has to offer all in one place, head to Mercato Centrale at Stazione Termini, where you’ll find some of the city’s top culinary artisans, including the legendary pizza-maker Gabriele Bonci of Pizzarium.

Traditional Roman Restaurants

Traditional Roman cuisine has been turned on its head to create a world of gourmet fast food. Supplizio, Trapizzino, Al42, and Zia Rosetta are just a few of the wildly popular addresses that have emerged, each with their own unique twist on quick-eats. From posh supplì (fried rice balls) to doughy, cone-shaped trapizzino sandwiches, there is no shortage of innovative food to be found.

But the revolution doesn’t stop here. In the Testaccio covered market, Michelin-starred chef Cristina Bowerman is winning over foodies with her cardboard cups of gourmet soups and savory dishes at Cups. Her restaurant Glass Hostaria in Trastevere is one of the few Italian female chef-owned establishments to have been awarded a Michelin star. Her latest venture, Romeo e Giulietta, is a vast restaurant, pizzeria, bakery, deli, and cocktail bar rolled into one, located on Piazza dell’Emporio in Testaccio. This establishment is a testament to her commitment to making haute cuisine accessible to all.

Pastry Shops

For those with a sweet tooth, pastry shops known as pasticcerie are undergoing a transformation into chic and artistic destinations. Pasticceria De Bellis is at the forefront of this trend. In the historic center, Tiramisù Zum specializes in the classic Italian dessert, serving it in a plethora of flavors. Meanwhile, in the fashionable Monti district, the savvy crowd gathers at Grezzo to indulge in exquisite tiramisu miniatures and one-bite pralines. This chocolate boutique’s specialty is raw, organic, and gluten-free treats.

We hope you enjoyed our selection of the best restaurants in Rome. These are the places where you can savor the authentic Roman cuisine and experience the warm hospitality of the locals. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite, a romantic dinner or a family feast, you’ll find something to suit your taste and budget in Rome. But don’t forget to leave some room for dessert. After all, what to eat in Rome is not complete without a scoop of gelato or a slice of tiramisu.

Best Vegan, Vegeterian & Gluten-Free Dining

What to eat in Rome if If you’re a vegetarian? There are so many delicious dishes to choose from, like antipasti, pasta, salads, side dishes, and pizzas. Some fancy restaurants even have a special vegetarian menu. For example, Imàgo has one. And you can also find places that only serve vegetarian or vegan food. Babette and Il Margutta are near the Spanish Steps. Vitaminas 24 is in Pigneto, which is a cool area. But be careful of some things that might have meat or fish in them. Sometimes they don’t tell you on the menu. For example, some courgette flowers have anchovies inside them. So you can ask them if it’s senza carne o pesce (without meat or fish). Some Italians think vegetarian means you only don’t eat red meat.

Vegan Restaurants Rome

Vegans might find it harder to eat out. Cheese is everywhere, so you have to say senza formaggio (without cheese) when you order something. And fresh pasta has eggs in it. Sometimes they put it in soups too. The best thing to do is to cook your own food or go to a vegetarian restaurant. They usually have some vegan options too.

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Rome

Most restaurants are good with gluten-free food. They know about celiac disease here: Aroma is one of the best restaurants in Rome and they have a gluten-free menu with four courses (€115). Just say Io sono celiaco or senza glutine when you get there and they’ll help you pick something good.

Best Specialities to Eat in Rome

The local food scene in Rome is steeped in tradition and boasts unique dishes specific to certain neighborhoods.

Jewish Ghetto Specialities

One area renowned for its cuisine is the Jewish Ghetto, where you can indulge in Roman-Jewish dishes that have been passed down for centuries. The cuisine is characterized by deep-frying, which became popular during the 16th to 19th centuries when the Jewish community was confined to the Ghetto. They had to get creative with limited ingredients, so they started frying everything from mozzarella to salted cod to add flavor. Their most addictive specialty is the carciofo alla giudia, a crispy and salted deep-fried artichoke that’s flattened out into a flower shape.

Testaccio Specialities

On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for heartier dishes, head over to Testaccio, a working-class district that’s home to the city’s former slaughterhouse. Here, you’ll find the heart (and liver and brains) of Roman cuisine. One of the most popular dishes is coda alla vaccinara, which translates to “oxtail cooked butcher’s style.” It’s a rich and savory sauce that’s slow-cooked for hours with tender pieces of meat. For those who want to try something daring, there’s pasta with pajata, a dish made with the entrails of young veal calves, which are considered a delicacy since they contain congealed milk from the mother. And if you see coratella on the menu, it means you’ll be eating lights (lungs), kidneys, and hearts.

Rome’s diverse cuisine has something to offer for every taste bud, with each neighborhood boasting its own unique specialties. From the Jewish Ghetto’s deep-fried delights to Testaccio’s hearty dishes, you’re in for a culinary adventure.

How to Eat in Rome

Let’s talk about prices!

When we talk about the cost of a meal in this area, we’re usually referring to the total price for a primo, secondo, dolce, and a glass of wine. But keep in mind that most places will also add a charge for bread and cover (usually around €1 to €5 per person) to your bill.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly meal, you can find options for less than €25. If you’re willing to spend a bit more for a fancier dining experience, expect to pay between €25 and €45. And if you’re looking to indulge in a truly luxurious meal, be prepared to spend more than €45.

So, depending on your budget and preferences, you can definitely find a meal that fits your needs and tastes.

Openin Hours

When it comes to opening hours, most restaurants in the area typically open from noon until 3 pm and then again from 7:30 pm to 11 pm. But keep in mind that many restaurants close one day a week, usually on Sundays or Mondays.
If you’re planning on visiting during August, be aware that many eateries close for at least a week, and some even close for the entire month. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and make sure your chosen restaurant is open and ready to serve up some delicious food!


Here are some tips for dining etiquette in Italy:

  • Dress to impress. Italians take pride in their appearance and tend to dress nicely when dining out, so you might want to leave the sweatpants at home.
  • When eating spaghetti, it’s considered bad manners to slurp it up. Instead, bite through the hanging strands of pasta with your teeth and twirl it onto your fork.
  • When eating pasta, use your fork to twirl the noodles and enjoy them without the aid of a spoon.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to eat pizza with your hands in Italy, just be sure to fold it properly to prevent the toppings from sliding off.
  • In Italian homes, it’s common to use a piece of bread to “fare la scarpetta” or “make a little shoe” to wipe your plate clean of any remaining sauce or juices.
  • If you’re invited to someone’s home, it’s a nice gesture to bring a gift such as a tray of dolci (sweets) from a pastry shop, a bottle of wine, or flowers.

By following these simple etiquette tips, you’ll be sure to fit right in with the locals and have a more enjoyable dining experience in Italy.

Tipping in Rome

When dining in Italy, it’s good to know the tipping culture. While service charges are often included in the bill, it’s still appreciated to leave a little extra for your server. For example, if you’re in a casual pizzeria, you might leave around 5% as a tip. However, if you’re in a fancier restaurant, it’s more customary to leave around 10%. And if you’re not sure how much to tip, at least rounding up the bill is always a nice gesture.

A Seasonal Guide to Eating in Rome

If you want to experience Rome’s food culture, it’s essential to eat according to the seasons.


In the spring, you’ll find succulent lamb dishes roasted with potatoes, as well as the famous carciofo alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes) that are in season from March until June. You won’t want to miss out on the grass-green fave (broad beans) served with salty pecorino cheese, and the fluted zucchine romanesche (Roman courgettes) are delicious with their deep-fried orange petals.


Moving into the summer, fresh tonno (tuna) is plentiful from the waters around Sardinia, and seafood dishes like linguine ai frutti di mare and risotto alla pescatora are perfect for the warmer weather. It’s also the time for mouth-watering melanzane (aubergine or eggplant) dishes, either grilled as antipasti or fried and smothered in rich tomato sauce for melanzane alla parmigiana. And don’t forget about the lattuga romana, Rome’s very own lettuce, which is sturdy and flavourful.

The summer also sees an abundance of full-bodied tomatoes, juicy peaches, apricots, figs, and melons that will tempt you at every market stall. So, make sure to indulge in the fresh and sun-ripened produce while you’re here.


As the seasons change, so do the culinary delights found in the Lazio region of Italy. In the autumn, hearty dishes are aplenty, particularly those prepared in the alla cacciatora (hunter-style) tradition. These dishes are made using meats sourced from the region’s hills, such as cinghiale (wild boar) and lepre (hare). If you prefer seafood, autumn is the perfect time to indulge in fried fish from Fiumicino, including the flavorful triglia (red mullet) or mixed small fish, like alici (anchovies).

During the autumn months, mushrooms become a staple ingredient in many dishes, particularly the meaty porcini, galletti, and ovuli varieties. The markets are overflowing with broccoletti (also known as broccolini), a unique cross between broccoli and asparagus, as well as juicy uva (grapes), sweet pere (pears), and various nuts.


When winter arrives, warming dishes featuring chickpeas and vegetable-rich minestrone are popular choices, as well as herb-roasted porchetta di Ariccia (pork from Ariccia). Those in search of a unique winter green can look for puntarelle, a delicious and slightly bitter chicory that can only be found in Lazio. The markets are also overflowing with broccolo romanesco (Roman broccoli), juicy aranci (oranges), and mandarini (mandarins).

February brings carnival time, and with it, the delicious frappé, strips of fried dough dusted with sugar. Indulging in these treats is a time-honored tradition during this festive season. The changing of the seasons in Lazio brings an abundance of unique and flavorful ingredients, each with its own place in the region’s rich culinary tradition.

Sagre aka Feasting Festivals

While many festivals in Italy involve food, some festivals exist just for the sake of food. These celebrations are called sagre or feasting festivals, and they typically feature local specialties such as hazelnuts, wine, and sausages. It’s a great way to indulge in delicious food and learn about the local culture and traditions at the same time.

When to Eat in Rome

Breakfast: Fare Colazione

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and that means starting your day with a cappuccino and a flaky, buttery cornetto for breakfast. It’s the perfect way to fuel up for the day ahead. But make sure you don’t fill up too much because lunchtime is serious business in Italy.

Lunch: Pranzo

Shops and businesses often close for a few hours in the afternoon to allow everyone to enjoy a leisurely pranzo. If you’re lucky enough to be in Rome on a Sunday, then you’ll be treated to a particularly special lunch. And if you’re looking for a more casual option, check out the brunch buffets offered by many restaurants on the weekends.


Come evening, it’s time for aperitivo. Think of it as happy hour, Italian style. For a reasonable price, you can enjoy a drink and unlimited plates of tasty snacks to nibble on. It’s the perfect pre-dinner ritual.

Dinner: Cena

Speaking of dinner, cena is usually a simpler affair than lunchtime, although that’s slowly changing. But if you’re feeling up for the full Italian experience, a proper meal includes an

  • antipasto,
  • primo piatto,
  • secondo piatto with a side dish,
  • dolci, fruit, coffee,
  • and a digestivo to finish it all off.

But don’t worry, when eating out you can mix and match to your heart’s content.

Feasts & Festivals

And let’s not forget about the feasts and festivals! Italians love to celebrate their local specialties, whether it’s hazelnuts, wine, or sausages. And of course, there’s the tradition of eating lean the day before a big feast to prepare for the indulgence to come.

Where to Eat in Rome

If you’re looking for a place to satisfy your hunger, the options are abundant and diverse. From the bustling vibe of a Roman pizza joint to the comforting ambiance of a family-owned trattoria that has been passed down for generations, there’s something for everyone. You can even choose from posh bars with lavish appetizer spreads, modern bistros, and high-end restaurants that serve up dishes that are both visually stunning and delicious.

Ristorante, Trattoria & Osteria

Trattorias, osterias, and restaurants all offer different dining experiences. Traditionally, trattorias were simple, family-run eateries that offered a modest selection of local dishes at an affordable price. Osterias, on the other hand, specialized in one particular dish and usually served house wine. While there are still plenty of these types of restaurants around, ristoranti offer a wider variety of menu options and more upscale service, but come with a higher price tag.


It is quite fascinating to note that pizza was not a common dish in Rome until after World War II when southern immigrants introduced it to the city. However, it quickly caught on and became a beloved meal for every Roman, thanks to its simplicity and affordability. Roman pizzerias are renowned for their wafer-thin bases that are smothered with fresh, bubbling toppings and served by waiters on a mission. Given that most pizzerias use wood-fired ovens, they usually open in the evening when the ovens are heated to the perfect temperature.

Before devouring their pizza, most Romans indulge in a starter of bruschetta or fritti, which are mixed fried foods such as zucchini flowers, potato, and olives. They then wash it all down with beer, but the trendiest new pizzerias in the city only serve craft beer. Pizza menus in Rome are typically divided into two categories: pizza rossa, which means ‘red’ pizza and comes with tomato sauce, and pizza bianca, which is ‘white’ pizza and has no tomato sauce. Traditionally, it is simply sprinkled with rosemary, salt, and olive oil, but nowadays it is available with a variety of optional toppings. Some of the newer pizzerias, such as Sbanco by Stefano Callegari of Trapizzino fame, serve pizza with a thicker and fluffier base that is more Neapolitan in style.

For a quick snack on the go, Rome’s pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice, is hard to beat. It is loaded with toppings and served atop thin, crispy, light-as-air, and slow-risen bread that is simply divine. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in gourmet pizza places, with Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium, located close to the Vatican and inside Mercato Centrale, reigning supreme as the king of the crop.


In Rome, indulging in gelato is as much a daily routine as sipping on morning coffee – once you try it, you’ll understand why. This city boasts some of the world’s most exceptional ice cream parlors, sourcing only the finest seasonal ingredients from the most exquisite regions. In these artisan gelaterie, don’t expect to find a strawberry flavor in the winter; instead, they serve pistachios from Bronte, almonds from Avola, and so forth. This practice has come a long way since Nero’s time when he consumed a mixture of snow, fruit pulp, and honey. A general rule of thumb is to inspect the pistachio flavor’s color: an ochre-green hue indicates that it’s “good,” while a bright-green hue implies that it’s “bad.” During the summer season, Romans like to satisfy their sweet tooth by devouring grattachecca, which translates to “scratched ice.” Kiosks along the riverside are open from May to September, selling crushed ice topped with fruit and syrup – a perfect way to beat the scorching heat.

Most gelato shops open from approximately 8 in the morning until 1 in the morning, with reduced operating hours during the winter season. The cost of a cono (cone) or coppetta (tub or cup) ranges from roughly €2 to €5.50.


Enoteche, or wine bars, are a popular option for locals to grab a bite while sipping on a glass of wine. They usually offer a selection of snacks such as cheeses, cold cuts, and bruschette, as well as hot dishes that pair perfectly with a glass of vino. Some enoteche, like Casa Bleve, even provide full-fledged dining experiences.

Tavola Calda aka Italian Fast Food

Fast food has been a well-established and enduring tradition in Rome, with a plethora of delectable street food options to choose from. If you’re in a hurry, the tavola calda (meaning ‘hot table’) provides an economical solution with its pre-prepared pasta, meat, and vegetable dishes. Similarly, a rosticceria specializes in cooked meats. Although they may not be the most ideal choices for a romantic evening, these options are known for their deliciousness.

One of the most beloved fast foods on-the-go are the arancini, which are fried balls of risotto filled with tantalizing ingredients like mozzarella and ham. Though originally from Sicily, these snacks are immensely popular in Rome as well, where they are referred to as supplì.


Rome’s bountiful array of delis and fresh-produce markets are a true delight for food enthusiasts. Each neighborhood boasts several local delis, along with its daily food market. For all your deli supplies and wine needs, head to the alimentari, which are typically open from 7 am to 1.30 pm and 5 pm to 8 pm, with the exception of Thursday afternoons and Sundays. During the summer months, they may also close on Saturday afternoons instead of Thursdays.


Markets operate from around 7 am to 1.30 pm, Monday through Saturday. On weekends, the city also plays host to a plethora of excellent farmers’ markets.

Rome’s Most Famous Markets

What to eat in Rome? A lot of things! But if you love food and are visiting Rome, don’t miss the chance to explore the city’s famous markets. One of the most picturesque is the Mercato di Campo de’ Fiori, but keep in mind that it’s also the most expensive. Prices are actually graded according to the shopper’s accent, so if you don’t want to pay top dollar, try to keep a low profile!

For a more budget-friendly option, head to the Nuovo Mercato Esquilino, where you’ll find a treasure trove of exotic herbs and spices. If you’re near the Vatican and looking to stock up for a picnic, the Piazza dell’ Unità market is your best bet. Open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm Monday through Saturday, you’ll be able to find everything you need to make your al fresco dining experience a success.

If you’re staying in Trastevere, be sure to visit the Mercato di Piazza San Cosimato, which has been a neighborhood institution for over a century. Here, you’ll find fresh, locally sourced foodstuffs that are sure to make your taste buds sing. And finally, the Nuovo Mercato di Testaccio is a covered market hall that’s perfect for those who want to indulge in some gourmet fast food on the go. With so many amazing options to choose from, you’re sure to find a market that’s right up your alley in Rome.

So What to Eat in Rome?

I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to eat in Rome and where to find the best food. Rome is a city that will delight your taste buds with its rich and varied cuisine. Whether you’re looking for pasta, pizza, meat, cheese, sweets or anything in between, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings. And don’t forget to try some of the seasonal specialties that make Roman food so unique and delicious. There’s always something new and exciting to discover in Rome’s food scene. So go ahead and book your trip to Rome today and get ready to eat like a king (or a queen). Buon appetito! And remember: when in Rome, do as the Romans do – eat well! What to eat in Rome? Everything!

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