As the famous saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do. This is particularly true when it comes to food. Rome is the 3rd most visited city in the EU and one of the world’s top tourist destinations. This unfortunately means that alongside its breathtaking monuments and welcoming citizens there are also many tourist traps to be avoided, particularly when it comes to eating out. As a general rule of thumb, if you want to avoid the ‘touristic’ restaurants where prices are high whilst quality is poor, avoid eating in the major piazzas and stick to the side streets. When the menu is (poorly) translated into several languages, photos of the dishes are included and the waiters just don’t stop smiling you know you’re in trouble. To help you not only avoid such places, but also enjoy some truly delicious food we have investigated the top dishes to sample in Rome focusing on 5 of the city’s best and truly authentic restaurants.
For breakfast, fend off the urge to grab one of the many microwave-baked industrial ‘cornetti’ on display and instead head to Caffè Sant’Eustachio. It is situated on a hidden piazza near the Pantheon and has been in business for over 70 years. It is often if not always crammed with locals which testifies to its offering truly scrumptious and truly Roman delights. From a simple espresso to a refreshing granita they offer a wide variety of coffee based drinks as well as savoury and sweet delights to set you up for a busy day.
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali is a good choice for a standard, high quality lunch in Rome. It offers a wide range of fairly priced, classic dishes from gnocchi to saltimbocca alla romana, as well as house specialities like home-made pasta with white-truffle sauce. The entire menu is cooked by the expert chef and owner Alessio Liberatore, whose children work in the restaurant serving the food. This strong sense of family and tradition embodies the Roman spirit and Alessio’s passion for this shines through in the delicacies he prepares. Although the restaurant is also open for dinner, you have to reserve well in advance, hence we recommend a lunchtime visit.
Italy is famous worldwide for its ice-cream and Rome boasts some of the country’s best gelaterias. The locals favourite haunt for truly delicious icy treats is La Fonte della Salute which is considered the “best ice cream maker of Trastevere” according to Tiziano Virive of spottedbylocals.com. The choice of flavours is endless from hazelnut to pistachio with double cream layers and fruit based treats are also available for those who wish to avoid lactose. They also sell crushed fruit ice called granite and crepes and if you get sick of ice-cream. Although when it tastes this good, we don’t think that will be a problem!
For dinner, one of Rome’s best trattorias is Armando Al Pantheon where the Gargioli family have been serving authentic Roman classics to the delight of locals (and the tourists who discover it) since 1961. Here the price tag isn’t exactly what you’d called cheap, but in this case it is definitely worth it. Unlike the average tourist spot where prices are exorbitant and taste mediocre, at Armando Al Pantheon it is worth paying a little more to sample this excellent Roman cuisine. The dishes are considered symbols of true Roman quality such as fettuccine ai funghi porcini and parmigiana di melanzane. It is notorious for its cuisine and friendly personnel both of which represent what it is to be Roman.
Finally, we would like to dedicate a section to the dish that we all know you will be sampling in Rome: pizza. Of course, you can get a good pizza even in the city centre in a tourist-aimed joint, since it is pretty hard to get bad pizza in Italy. However if you want to discover what it is to truly sample Italian pizza, we recommend Formula Uno. Here the thin, crispy crust and wide selection of toppings are matched with wondrously cheap prices to provide an unforgettable meal that you are sure to want to sample again. It is open for lunch and dinner, since there really is no wrong time to eat pizza….at least not when in Rome!