What to eat in Rome: 12 must-try local delights

From perfect pasta to authentic Roman street food, this list of Rome’s tastiest dishes and where to eat them is a must for food lovers

When in Rome, you'd better eat as the Romans do, but what food is Rome known for? Many people think Italian cuisine is the best in the world, and now it's time to see if you agree. There's nothing quite like sitting on a terrace on a summer evening in Rome, enjoying some of Italy's most famous food.

We've scoured the Eternal City for the best food that you simply must eat. Our list features popular food, such as different types of pasta, fresh pizza, refreshing gelato, and more. You'll find foods to try on your romantic dates in Rome, as well as child-friendly options that are suitable for the whole family. You can even learn how to make these dishes yourself. Buon appetito.

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1. Try pasta just like Mamma makes

What could be better than a meal with an authentic Italian Mamma? Well, how about pasta that Mamma shows you how to prepare yourself? Learn to make pasta from scratch in a real Italian home, then enjoy the fruits of your labor with a delicious leisurely lunch.

How to eat the best pasta in Rome:

A pasta cooking class will show you how to make the dough, cut it, fill it, and cook it. You'll be the envy of your friends when you go home.

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2. Pig out on porchetta

Porchetta is the Italian take on roast pork. It is a deliciously aromatic combination of succulent meat and zesty herbs. It's the kind of special occasion feast that will have you coming back for more.

How to eat the best porchetta in Rome:

Join a guided tour of the Testaccio markets. As well as porchetta, you'll be able to try cheese, ham, pasta, and other treats. Loosening your belt may be a good idea after partaking in the best porchetta.

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3. Wave goodbye to fast food with an authentic pizza

When you try a true Italian pizza, you'll understand why people here are so passionate about food, and you may never want American pizza again. Freshly made with meltingly soft mozzarella, rich tomatoes, and fragrant basil, this is hard to top.

How to eat the best pizza in Rome:

There are hundreds of restaurants claiming to serve the best pizza. There's nothing better than making it for yourself, though, with an authentic pizza-making class. You'll even get your very own rolling pin to take home.

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4. Wake up with cannoli for breakfast

Sweet and decadent, cannoli are a real treat for breakfast. These tasty treats consist of tubes of deep-fried pastry stuffed with ricotta. When they're freshly made, there's nothing quite like them.

How to eat the best cannoli in Rome:

Cannoli for breakfast? You're on vacation, so why not? Start your morning with exquisite Italian coffee and cannoli as you join a food and wine tour. Make sure to leave room for the food to eat later, such as cheeses, hams, and truffles.

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5. Feel like a star with the original Fettuccine Alfredo

Alfredo alla Scrofa is a restaurant that has been open for over a hundred years. Now a true Roman institution, it's the birthplace of Fettuccine Alfredo, a wonderfully cheesy pasta dish.

How to eat the best Fettuccine Alfredo in Rome:

There's only one place to go. The original restaurant has hosted stars like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra, and if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you, too.

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6. Enjoy the brain freeze with tasty gelato

In Italy, people take ice cream seriously. Join them by visiting the best gelaterias in Rome. Be warned: you'll need to sample lots of traditional and modern flavors before you can choose a favorite.

How to eat the best gelato in Rome:

A gelato walking tour will let you try the city's favorite frozen desserts. There's espresso and tiramisu, too, so get ready to indulge.

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7. Slurp down some supplì in a bustling bar

Supplì are the perfect Italian bar snack. They are deep-fried balls of rice that ooze mozzarella when you bite into them. They're the ideal bite-size treat to nibble on with a drink.

How to eat the best supplì in Rome:

A traditional trattoria is the perfect place to sample supplì. You'll also be able to try cheese, salt cod, and slices of pizza during your foodie odyssey.

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8. Indulge your inner gourmet with rich black truffles

Truffles are one of Italy's most famous ingredients. These richly aromatic fungi add a deep, earthy note to all kinds of dishes. They're so flavorful that just a few shavings are used at a time.

How to eat the best black truffles in Rome:

Try the heady truffle pate and the truffle-infused honey in this special tasting session. You'll enjoy the decadent, gourmet side of Italian cuisine in this amazing gastronomic journey.

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9. Savor the coffee-laced kick of a tiramisu

An authentic Italian tiramisu is one of the best desserts in town. With creamy mascarpone cheese layered over a bed of coffee-soaked sponge fingers, this fabulous treat is the perfect end to any meal or even the perfect treat in itself.

How to eat the best tiramisu in Rome:

Learn how to make tiramisu yourself with a cooking class. Start with spaghetti served with your favorite sauce, then finish with your own homemade tiramisu, all washed down with fine local wine.

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10. Keep it cool with ham and salami

Cold-cured meats are a real treat in Rome. Ham, salami, and other favorites are commonly served with different types of cheese, bread, and great olive oil. It's the ideal light meal.

How to eat the best cured meats in Rome:

Take a walking tour of the old Jewish ghetto. You'll learn some history along the way, and you'll be able to sample the best ham and salami in town.

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11. Try real street food with trapizzino

Is it a sandwich? Is it a pizza? You may still not be entirely sure, but either way, trapizzino is definitely packed with flavor. This pocket of pizza is filled with all kinds of toppings and served in a cone so you can eat it on the go.

How to eat the best trapizzino in Rome:

Romans love this local street food classic. Try it yourself on a sunset tour of the city. You can pick the toppings to make your own gourmet masterpiece.

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12. Leave the tomatoes at home and try pizza bianca

Pizza bianca literally means white pizza, and that's what it is. This Roman favorite is a pizza without the tomato sauce. The emphasis is on the fresh, chewy dough, the crunchy salt, and the rich olive oil.

How to eat the best pizza bianca in Rome:

A full foodie tour will take you to markets, bars, restaurants, and more. Pizza bianca is just one of the many great dishes you'll get the opportunity to eat along the way.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Rome?

Every city in Italy has its own unique dishes. In Rome, some of the favorites include simple pasta dishes like spaghetti carbonara or cacio e pepe, as well as street foods and bar snacks like supplí, pizza bianca, and trapizzino. For desserts, there's tiramisu.

What are the best food tours in Rome

You'll find a wealth of food tours available in Rome. A morning food tour will usually take you to a market to sample the local produce, while an evening tour focuses on bars and restaurants.

What are the top local food markets in Rome to visit?

The biggest food market in Rome is the Mercato Trionfale, with a dazzling array of hundreds of stalls. It's open Monday to Saturday, from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM. If you want ready-to-eat street food rather than fresh produce, you can try the Mercato Centrale.

What is the best time of year to visit Rome for food lovers?

Italians eat well all year round. Seasonal eating is extremely popular in Italy, so at any time of year, you'll find some great specialties available. Summer in Rome is one of the best times of the year, though, as that's when you'll find the best tomatoes, Mediterranean vegetables, and gelato.

How much should I budget for food in Rome?

You can usually expect to pay between €15 and €25 for a sit-down meal, but if you go to a gourmet restaurant, that price can go up a lot. The price will also depend on the drinks you choose. Street food is a cheaper option and will allow you to eat for under €10 per head.