You’re bringing your appetite to Rome, right?
As you wander the ancient streets, an artisan gelato shop will call your name from every corner. You may think you’re on your way to the Trevi Fountain but find yourself in a pasticceria, entranced by the aroma of freshly baked focaccia. The Eternal City is a maze of eateries that you may never want to escape.
You can feast like an emperor at every red-checked tablecloth, but leave room for Rome’s specialties – the dishes the city prides herself on. You may recognise a few of them, but don’t be surprised if Rome’s foodie favourites reinvent your idea of flavour.
Carbonara – not all are created equal
Can a dish as inherently delicious as carbonara get much better? Choose a reputable Roman restaurant, slurp up a string of pecorino-coated pasta, and tell us the answer.
The ingredients are simple – guanciale, or pork cheek, pecorino cheese, eggs, and pasta, but the mouth sensations are complexities of bliss. From the flavour explosion of crispy pork to the teeth-pleasing texture of al dente pasta, a well-cooked carbonara is a dish you could write poetry about.
You’ll need to reserve in advance to dine at Rome’s top-rated carbonara restaurants. Book a table at Restaurante Roscioli, Luciano Cucina Italiano, or Cantina e Cucina. We promise it’s worth it.
Supplì al telefono – not the same as arancini
You may think you know these crumbed rounds of goodness, but Roman supplì have criteria that set them apart from arancini.
They are smaller than their Sicilian cousins, and traditionally contain only rice, red sauce and mozzarella, but the preparation of the mozzarella is key. A nub of cheese is enclosed within the rice before breading and deep-frying, so a bite results in a long string, or ‘telephone wire’ of cheese. There are flavour variations, but try the original to truly appreciate a Roman staple.
Supplì are the perfect appetisers, and you’ll find it hard to resist filling up on the crispy golden balls before dinner. Try them at Suppli Roma, Supplizio, or at countless stands at the Testaccio Market.
Artichoke – as you’ve never tasted it before
Romans have adored artichoke for centuries, and once you wrap your lips around a carciofi alla giudia, or Jewish-style artichoke, you may find yourself a convert.
It sounds simple – trim the prickly parts, deep fry in olive oil, season and spread the petals, then fry again. Tear off the crispy outer leaves and eat them like chips, before biting into the buttery perfection of the inner vegetable.
It’s hard to describe how toe-curlingly delicious this straightforward dish can be, so head to Rome’s Jewish quarter to discover it for yourself at one of the enticing kosher restaurants that line Via del Portico d’Ottavia.
Maritozzo - a bursty breakfast brioche
Italians like to take their morning espresso and pastry while standing at the counter, but we recommend you take a seat to savour every bite of Rome’s signature breakfast pastry.
Meet the maritozzo, a fluffy brioche bun filled with weightless whipped cream. Variations include the addition of fruit, nuts, and candied orange peel, but there’s no need for extras when you can enjoy the original at one of Rome’s many world-class pasticcerie.
Freshness is key when it comes to enjoying these bursting beauties, and they’re hard to find by the time lunch rolls around. Once you’ve experienced the blissful explosion of freshly baked brioche and delicate cream, you’ll be waking up early to hunt down the best buns in town.
Try local favourites Regolia and Pasticceria Bar Romoli, or visit Il Maritozzo Rosso for a twist on the classic.
Pizza al taglio - when in Rome…
Eat pizza as the Romans do.
In other parts of Italy, you may have a pizza set in front of you without a slice in sight - it’s up to you to carve up your delectable wheel. But Romans are busy people, and they like to grab their ‘za to go, or al taglio - by the slice.
Any traditional Roman pizza worth its salt will have a few things in common: a rectangular, pre-cut shape, a minimum of toppings, and a flavourful crust that is soft in the middle and crispy on the bottom. Your flavour choices can range from pizza rosso, a simple topping of red sauce, to gourmet concoctions such as mortadella and crumbed pistachio.
Head to Pizzarium, Pinsere or Angelo e Simonetta to try some of the world’s most celebrated ‘pizza by the slice’.