When in Rome, eat as the Romans do. The Pantheon and Colosseum are nice to gawk at, but the true monuments in Rome are pizza, gelato, and endless pasticceria. First time visiting the Eternal City? These are the top cheap and delicious classics that every foodie needs to get a bite (or lick) of during their first visit to Rome.
Pizzarium makes superb pizza.
“The best pizzas are eaten standing up,” a native Roman once told me. Pizzarium, just a few steps shy of Vatican City, is just that. Take a number and be prepared for a bit of a wait at this tiny takeaway pizza counter. Flavours change seasonally but don’t skimp out on tried and true classics like tomato with oregano and potato with mozzarella. Eat standing up for maximum true local effect.
Antico Forno Roscioli has all the classic pizza flavours.
Rome is home of pizza bianca, and few do it better than Antico Forno Roscioli. Pizza bianca is simply baked crust with a brush of olive oil and scattered salt. From the Roscioli family of restaurants comes one of Giada de Laurentiis’ favourite pizza spots. Baked in five-foot-long crispy, bubbly slabs, go-to’s include the classic pizza bianca, but get it with mortadella inside.
Forno Campo de’Fiori has great to-go meals.
Forno Campo de’Fiori arguably boasts Rome’s best pizza rossa. It comes on a flat crispy base and parchment paper to take-away (sorry, standing room only like a legit Roman pizza spot). Take a number, grab a red slice and fior di zucca to make sure you get your money’s worth. It’s laden with zucchini flower, anchovy, and mozzarella.
Le Levain is a highly acclaimed bakery.
Even though it is French,Le Levain is highly regarded as one of the best bakeries in Rome for their downright delectable croissants, pain au chocolat, and freshly baked bread. Full disclosure: This writer went to Le Levain two mornings in a row, it was so good. Like all must-visit spots, the bakery is small with a few seats, but where you will feel like a true local.
Il Fornaio is a local favourite.
You can’t miss Il Fornaio: There is a giant mortadella announcing its presence. Near the Pantheon in the center of Campo de Fiori, this popular bakery full of traditional Italian baked goods is famous for its cannoli, giant meringues, torta di pistacchi, pizza e mortadella, and an endless array of sweets, focaccia, pizza, and cookies. The price you pay is based on the weight of your order.
Hostaria La Botticella has traditional Roman cuisine.
This one-woman run show is a popular dinner spot in hipster hood Trastevere. Settle down for an intimate and delicious traditional Roman dinner of fiori di zucca (deep-fried zucchini flowers with mozzarella and anchovies), a classic bucatini all’amatriciana (pasta with bacon, tomatoes, and cheese), and coda alla vaccinara (one of the most typical Roman dishes: oxtail with celery, carrots, and tomato sauce).
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina has the best pasta.
For a delightful introduction to Roman cuisine, have dinner in a wine cellar. Start with an antipasto of bis di Mariozzo (porchetta, robiola cheese, and anchovies on brioche), followed by a pasta carbonara with crispy pork cheeks, a three parmesan cheese rigatoni (burro e parmigiano), and a sampling of charcuterie (the mortadella is a fan fave).
Otaleg’s gelato is both fancy and delicious.
It’s “gelato” spelled backward. This popular, all-natural gelateria is known for their decadent ricotta whipped gelatos and inventive flavours like Edelweiss (white chocolate, beetroot, ginger), zabaione (egg yolks with Marsala, a Sicilian sweet wine), and even gorgonzola.
Frigidarium’s chocolate dipped ice cream is unforgettable.
There’s always a queue around this takeaway-only gelato shop around Piazza Navona, known for their chocolate dipped scoops. Choose between hot dark chocolate or white chocolate poured over your gelato. Don’t miss the signature Frigidarium flavour – it comes with a cookie on top.
Il Gelato di San Crispino makes classic gelato.
On your first visit to Il Gelato di San Crispino, close to the Trevi Fountain, get the signature miele (honey) con panna. On your second visit, go for the unique “meringues” like caramel, lemon, or hazelnut. Note: This is a cups-only establishment. No cones. On the plus side, all flavours are free of artificial colours, chemical, preservatives, or emulsifiers.
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