Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City

With a range of rich, fresh, and flavorful options, eating well in the eternal city is easy.

The destination experts at OMNIA Vatican and Rome, the sightseeing pass for the top attractions in the city, want to make sure you’ll get your fill of amazing Roman cuisine. They made this guide to give you understanding of the most notable classics.

fiori di zucca

*Note: While finding authentic cuisine is not a difficult feat in Rome, you still have to beware of the tourist traps that are sprinkled throughout, especially around the Fori and historical center. Wander around the Vatican, Trastevere and the Borghese gallery. For options closer to the center, explore the Jewish Quarter, Campo de’ Fiori, or even the Monti area.

And remember: Enjoying a meal in Rome is a social ritual and a very important piece of the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Share, chat, laugh and indulge! Buon Appetito!


Antipasti, or appetizers: Cured meats, cheese plates, and fritti (fried food)

Primi, or the first course: Pasta, soup, dishes with rice

Secondi, or second/main course: Fish or meat

Contorno, or side

Dolci, or desserts


Don’t underestimate the power of pasta made by hand with good ingredients and love. This Italian staple takes many shapes and forms, and each region claims to champion a few, along with some flavorful sauce pairings.

Bucatini all’amatriciana: a historic dish from Amatrice. Thick tubes of pasta (bucatini) in a rich tomato sauce that includes pork cheek (guanciale), pecorino cheese, onion, garlic and chili.

Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City - amatriciana

Cacio e pepe: Another simple dish, that is delectable when done right. Cacio is the famous pecorino romano, while pepe is pepper.

Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City - cacio pepe

Spaghetti alla carbonara: A Roman staple and another historic dish (brought from the coal men, or carbonari) of Umbria. A few ingredients, including guanciale or pancetta (Italian bacon), eggs, parmesan, olive oil and pepper.


Pizza romana: A thinner crust than that of pizza napolitana. Drink with beer, instead of wine. Some of the best comes from non-descript places, like bakeries, bars, and pizzerias that sell it by weight.

Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City - pizza


*Try to stick to regional plates from Rome and Lazio

Abbacchio alla scottadito, or charcoal-grilled, marinated lamb cutlets: Abbacchio dialect for little lamb, scottadito means “burnt finger”. This unusual name is actually a joke: by tradition, lamb cutlets are eaten by hand and served hot.

Coda alla vaccinara, or Roman oxtail stew made with vegetables like celery, carrot and tomato, pancetta and herbs. The coda is sweet and sour—cooked with raisins or candied fruit.

Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City - coda alla vaccinara

Filetti di baccalà fritti, or batter-fried baccalà: A traditional Christmastime dish of salted cod.

Feeling adventurous? Try dishes with quinto quarto, or offal. Look out for pajata (lamb, veal or goat kid intestines) or testarelle (whole roasted lamb’s or goat kid’s head).


With a bounty of fresh vegetables and cheeses from nearby farms, Roman cuisine can cater very well to vegetarians, and even vegans.

Bruschetta aglio ed olio (toasted bread topped with garlic and olive oil) or bruschetta alla romana (topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs): For antipasti

Gnocchi al pomodoro or pizza marinara: For main dishes

Puntarelle: Catalonian chicory that is found exclusively in Rome. Tender tips of greens, soaked and tossed, available from November until February. The dressing is made of garlic and vinegar, and often has anchovies, but there are vegetarian varieties.

Carciofi alla romana, or Roman artichokes: violet artichokes stuffed with a mix of oil, lemon, garlic, parsley and mint, then braised until tender.

Roman Cuisine: A Guide to the Real Food & Wine of the Eternal City - carciofi

Carciofi alla giudia, or Jewish artichokes: deep-fried globe artichokes common in the historic Jewish ghetto of Rome.


Gelato: Try unusual flavors, and even gelato with ricotta cheese. A Roman specialty, includes ricotta, eggs and cognac.

Bignè di San Giuseppe, also known as Zeppole: Deep-fried or baked sugary dough balls with a cream filling

Maritozzi con la panna: A cross between bread and pastry, opened like a sandwich and filled with cream.


Lazio’s volcanic soil, lakes and mild climate make it a conducive home to many vineyards.

Frascati wine: Made nearby Rome, in the Castelli Romani area. Try the delicate white wines with fish, antipasti and cheeses.

Est! Est! Est!: Produced near Montefiasconethe, this wine uses grapes of Trebbiano Toscano e Malvasia. Aromatic, it pairs well with antipasti like artichokes and fritti.

Cesanese: Made in Southern Lazio in the areas of Piglio, Frosinone and Zagarolo, this variety has a warm aroma of mulberry, blueberry and juniper. It goes wonderfully with meat dishes like abbacchio, stews, or with gnocchi.

About: OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card

The OMNIA Vatican & Rome card is a sightseeing pass which gives holders free entry to top attractions in the city as well as Fast Track Entry – saving over 4 hours! Make the most of your time in Rome with The OMNIA Vatican and Rome Card.

Want to explore Rome some more? Make a personalized day-by-day itinerary using your interests in budget in moments at, or check out the Discover Rome page to find more restaurants, bars, museums, shopping, and more!

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