When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Here are our tips to get the best local food experience.
Eat lots of ice cream
The rule is: eat at least one gelato a day.
Drink your coffee standing
Coffee should be enjoyed at the bar, not on a terrace. It’s much more fun and also much cheaper.
left: coffee at the bar of Sant’Eustachio; right: at Caffè Greco, however, you are allowed to sit down and enjoy your coffee while admiring the cafe’s beautiful interior
Book in advance
Romans love to go out for lunch and dinner (especially at gloobles’ tips). Always book in advance to secure a table. As a tourist, you will also be treated better by restaurant staff if you have made a booking.
Have dinner after 9pm
Don’t book your table before 9pm. It’s not fun to eat in an empty restaurant.
Follow the pasta guidelines
1. Only use your fork (using a knife as well is still sort of ok, but using a spoon… ‘o my god’);
2. Share: lunch and dinner in Italy often consist of 1) antipasti (appetisers) followed by 2) il primo (pasta) and 3) il secondo (fish or meat) accompanied by 4) one or two contorni (side dishes), then 5) il dolce (dessert) and later 6) a coffee and / or 7) an amaro (‘digestive liquor’) to finish it off. To be able to enjoy every bit of this heavenly but heavy experience, we highly recommend to share il primo (often delicious, but very full and filling); just have a taste and leave an empty spot for the rest. Restaurants are always happy to divide one pasta dish over two plates.
Use the scarpetta
A scarpetta (‘little shoe’) is a piece of bread that you use to soak up the remaining sauce from your pasta / meat / fish dish. It is often the most enjoyable part of a meal and goes particularly well with tomato / oily / buttery sauce!
Italian wines are delicious and should be enjoyed with each meal.
Try these traditional dishes
You cannot leave Rome without having thrown a coin in the Trevi Fountain and without having tried these traditional dishes for lunch or dinner:
Instead of flat or very sparkly water, try water with a subtle sparkle from natural sources near Rome. Aqua di Nepi is our favourite.
Fiori di zucca (deep fried zucchini flowers filled with anchovies and mozzarella);
Suppli (deep fried rice balls filled with beef, mozzarella and tomato sauce).
Amatriciana (pasta with spicy tomato sauce, pancetta and pecorino cheese);
Carbonara (pasta with egg, pecorino cheese and pancetta, the one at Roscioli is simply the best);
Cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and black pepper, at Roma Sparita it is served in a bowl of parmesan cheese for extra deliciousness).
Saltimbocca (veal with pancetta, sage and butter sauce);
Abbacchio allo scottadito (‘finger burning’ grilled lamb chops).
Puntarelle (crispy vegetables in an anchovies / vinegar dressing);
Carciofo alla Romana (artichoke Roman style, can also be ordered as antipasto).
left: a delicious fiore di zucca awaiting its attack at Sora Margherita; right: perfect rigatoni all’Amatriciana on the terrace of Da Augusto in Trastevere