Everyone knows that Italy is responsible for some of the best food in the world. Take it from someone who’s lived there, it’s true. Although not the place to go if you’re buying into the low-carb craze, Rome has more than it’s fair share of delicious Italian cuisine. However, sometimes the sheer amount of restaurants on every block can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak any Italian. If you’re planning a trip to Rome anytime soon, or just in the mood to make yourself very hungry, check out my guide to eating in Roma!
First Some Italian Vocab….
First and foremost, it can be very challenging to order food in Italy if you don’t speak the language. The first couple times I went out to eat in Rome, I think I paid more attention to Google Translate than I did to my friends sitting next to me! Here are a few crucial words to know if you plan to restaurant hop in Italy.
Primi: First course, usually carb-filled dishes such as pasta or pizza
Secondi: Second course, usually consists of meat or fish
Bufala: Buffalo mozzarella
Rucola: If you type this into your translator, it will come up with the term “rocket lettuce.” If you’re like me and had no idea what that meant, Rucola just means arugula.
Vino: Wine, either Bianchi (white) or Rossi (red)
Acqua: Water, they’ll ask if you want Naturale (still) or Frizzante (sparkling)
Knowing some food vocab will always come in handy when visiting Italy, especially if you plan on getting off the beaten path where some restaurants might not have an english menu on hand. Take note of the words above before visiting the places below!
Where to eat
Located in trendy Trastevere, Dar Poeta is a must-visit for any trip to Rome. Their pizza has become famous, earning them posts on famous food blogs all around the world, including the American blog, @new_fork_city. To stress the deliciousness of this pizza, I included three pictures from the restaurant (only one taken by me). The food is so photogenic, none of my friends could resist snapping a photo!
When I lived in Rome, I spent a weekend traveling around Naples with one of my roommates. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Naples is the birthplace of pizza, which makes it pretty much heaven in my book. Although you may think pizza is all very similar around Italy, Naples pizza is much different. Mangia Napoli has three locations in Rome, all of which serve delicious and authentic Neapolitan pizza.
La Scala in Trastevere
A very popular restaurant in the area, and one that I actually hadn’t been introduced to until after I studied abroad, La Scala is a great option for lunch or dinner. They have a great outdoor patio which, during the daytime, is perfect for some people watching over wine and tasty Italian pasta.
Grazia e Graziella
Another one of our Trastevere favorites, Grazia e Graziella is located kitty corner to Tonnarello and Ombre Rosse. Clearly you don’t need to search far to find great food in this neighborhood. When we arrived at the charming little restaurant, they greeted us at the door with a glass of free spiced wine!
My favorite grab-and-go panini shop in Rome! Pane Piú is located in Piazza dei Calcarari, a quick 5 min walk from Piazza Venezia. Quick, cheap and delicious, it’s a great option for the Roman tourist on-the-go.
Sometimes a girl just needs to stuff herself full of all-you-can-eat Sushi… If that’s how you’re feeling, Kuriya is the place for you. €16 per person gives you access to an enormous menu full of amazing sushi, dumplings and more!
My mouth is watering even looking at pictures of sandwiches from La Proscuitteria. A five minute walk away from campus, this local restaurant makes one hell of a sandwich. Thick, buttery bread is filled with meat, cheese, veggies, olive oil and much much more.
Easily one of our favorite restaurants in Trastevere, we made reservations at Tonnarello for my friend’s 21st birthday (not relevant at all in Europe, but we still felt the need to celebrate). The food was fantastic, as was the wine, and they did not seem fazed at all by our obnoxious, slightly tipsy group of 15 American college students.
I didn’t discover Jaipur until I moved back to Italy to live in Florence. Although most people don’t go to Italy to eat Indian food…after living in the country for nine months the Italian food can get a little heavy. Along with the best Indian cuisine I’ve ever tasted, Jaipur is a cozy little restaurant with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere! Make sure to try the house specialty white murgh, paired with cheese naan it really doesn’t get any better. Bonus: they give you a free glass of prosecco as soon as you sit down!
Being born and raised in Wisconsin, one of the first things I did in Rome was sample the local beer. I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone be seeking out beer in the wine capital of the world? Don’t worry, I drank my fill of wine as well, but sometimes a girl just needs an ice-cold IPA alongside her carbonara. If you’re needing a break from pasta and pizza, Open Baladin has a huge selection of the best local beers in Rome along with a wide array of delicious bar food!
E’ Passata La Moretta
Located across the Tiber in Campo di Fiori, E’ Passata La Moretta was recommended to us by our Airbnb host while on a visit back to Rome. Inside, the restaurant is very plain, but the staff is friendly and the food is to-die-for. They’ll add truffle to any pasta dish on the handwritten menu, all you have to do is ask. The restaurant also has an outdoor patio that says open late into the night where many locals hang out to have a few glasses of wine.
Ombre Rosse has tasty food and a fun atmosphere! Half of their seating is outside on the cobbled streets of Trastevere. It’s a great place to have a bottle of wine and people watch with a friend or two!
I saved the best for last! For all four months we lived in Rome, we never wavered from our go-to drunk pizza place, Pizza Trilussa. I know all my friends from Rome are tearing up thinking about all the hilarious nights we spent there, covered in pizza grease and trying out our broken Italian on the very patient staff. They’re open every night until the pizza runs out and, being some of the best pizza in Trastevere, sometimes it’s scooped up fast! If you aren’t a believer yet, most of my friends (including myself) didn’t leave Rome without purchasing a Pizza Trilussa T-shirt.
Frigidarium won our, very prestigious, award of #1 Gelato in Rome. We had four months of eating gelato every week (let’s be honest, every day) and we were unable to find anywhere with better gelato than Frigidarium. They’ll even dip the cone in chocolate or vanilla! You’ll regret leaving Rome without trying a scoop (or six) of their delicious flavors.
A close second to Frigidarium, Del Viale is on top of their gelato game. Make sure to try a scoop from both if you’re ever in Rome. In the same night? I won’t judge.
While you’re hitting all the gelaterias in Rome, might as well stop by Della Palma. The sheer amount of flavors will overwhelm you, but, once you choose, it’s all worth it.
Since my university was located in Trastevere, most of the restaurants and bars I am familiar with are in that area. However, Rome is a huge city and there are many neighborhoods, streets and restaurants left to explore! Hopefully if you venture to Rome, my guide will you help you not be as hungry and confused as I was when I arrived.