While vacationing in Rome for 10 days I ate nothing but carbs, a lot of carbs. The Italian diet: croissants for breakfast, pizza for lunch, gelato for dinner, & carbonara for dinner. Repeat. How do the Europeans stay so thin?
SEE ALSO: Day Trip from Rome To Amalfi Coast
When I was in Rome, I booked the Taste of Rome – The Trionfale Foodie Tour on TripAdvisor. It was a 4-hour walking tour where we ate 18 different classic Roman foods. Our tour guide Morgan was from the States but has been living in Rome for 2 years now so I learned a lot of about the food and culture in Rome during the tour.
Here are the 17 iconic foods of Italy you have to eat in Rome!
1. SPAGHETTI CARBONARA
Pasta, egg, cheese, and bacon – I’ve eaten this plenty in Italian restaurants here in America and made it home. This was my top thing to eat in Rome.
2. CACIO E PEPE
Cheese and pepper – nothing else and that’s the true beauty of cacio e pepe. Almost every restaurant serves in Rome and there’s even a restaurant that’s named Cacio e Pepe in Rome.
3. EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Also called Melanzane alla Parmigiana in Italy. The trick is to find it made by a local grandma in a local food market.
I took a cooking class in Rome on making ravioli with a local Italian chef. We learned everything from making the dough from scratch, mixing the filling, rolling out the door, cooking the pasta, and the pasta sauce. The chef yelled at me constantly to cook the ravioli, “al dente, al dente.” I failed but it still tasted amazing anyway.
Italian dumplings made with just a couple of ingredients – potato, flour, egg, and sometimes parmesan.
An obvious choice but tiramisu is what the Italians are known for and when in Rome, you have to eat tiramisu.
7. FRIED ZUCCHINI FLOWERS
Zucchini flowers are a traditional appetizer in Italy. I’ve had them coated with a light batter so it was interesting to have them with a chewy texture and stuffed with mozzarella.
8. PORCHETTA SANDWICH
The classic Italian porchetta is the savory, fatty, and moist boneless pork roast. The meat is tender and flavorful and if you get a piece of the skin, my favorite part, it’s crispy and salty.
Drink lots of wine in Rome. Water costs money anyway in the Rome restaurants (the restaurants don’t offer tap water so it’s not free), so you might as well. Pick up any bottle of Italian wine and look for DOCG, DOC, and IGT.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG): wine producers followed the strictest regulations possible to make that wine. Only a handful of Italian wines qualify for DOCG status.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC): DOC wines are much more commonly found. The rules governing quality and authenticity are still very strict, but they’re a little more generous than those for DOCG status.
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT): the last tier after DOC and DOCG but still great wines.
Info via thekitchn
10. JEWISH FRIED ARTICHOKES
Carciofi alla giudìa is one of the best-known dishes of Roman Jewish cuisine. This was my first time having an artichoke entirely deep fried, delicious!
11. FRESH MOZZARELLA
Fresh mozzarella is everywhere in Rome – pizza, salads, sandwiches, and served just by itself. You can find fresh mozzarella at local markets like the Trionfale Market. If you do buy fresh mozzarella, don’t refrigerate it for the first 3 days because it’s very milky.
12. PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA
I encourage you to step into any meat shop (Paciotti Salumeria pictured above) and ask to taste the proscuitto di parma. Prosciutto di Parma is cured for a minimum of 12 months.
When in Rome, you must have gelato every single day. My favorite gelato shop in Rome was Gelateria La Romana. Order the hazelnut and pistachio at least once when you’re in Italy because the nuts are from the region. Most of the pistachio in America is fake because pistachios are very expensive.
Pro tip: Ask for cannoli to be piped fresh so you don’t get a soggy one out of the bakery case.
Italians always take their coffee hot and never iced.
Two best pizza spots in Rome are Roscioli (I went here 3 times in one day), and Bonci. Bonci is called the Michaelangelo of pizza by Vogue pizza. In Rome, pizza is cut by scissors and weighed because back in the day in Naples, pizza carts would weigh your coins to the equal amount of pizza.
Suppli is an Italian street snack that’s a ball of rice with mozzarella and tomato sauce and then fried. Shouldn’t cost more than €2 or else you’re overpaying.
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