Dining out in Italy isn't always pasta and pizza - Okay, maybe some of the best parts about Italy's regional cuisine do include those dishes, but there's so much more to experience! Rome, in particular, has a cuisine all its own, and it's one that should not be glossed over when visiting all of those historical attractions. Rome was built on innovation and creativity, and its most traditional - and best - foods reflect that.
Walking into any restaurant in Rome can be overwhelming if you're unsure of what you're looking for. Italian restaurants exist around the world but none of them quite echo the authentic dishes that travelers can find in the Eternal City, to which Rome is often referred, and its classic flavors. The next time you find yourself dining out in this beautiful city, here are some dishes to scan the menu for.
Artichokes, Any Way
If there's anything a traveler will notice about the fresh produce that's sold at markets throughout Rome, it's the sheer abundance of artichokes that are available. In a way, these have become the unofficial food of the city and they can be served in many different ways.
In most restaurants, these will appear on the menu as an option for whole fried or steamed artichokes. In terms of flavor, the artichoke's true flavor is permitted to shine through with simple ingredients such as good olive oil, garlic, and subtle herbs.
Cacio e Pepe
Hardcore pasta fans will already be familiar with this dish, which is the most iconic when it comes to Rome. Traditionally, the dish gets its name from cacio, the type of sheep's milk parmesan cheese that the region is known for. If you hadn't guessed already, pepe means black pepper, which is always cracked from fresh peppercorns.
The ingredient list is really that simple - just those two things, and a bit of some pasta water, are part of the city's greatest pasta dish. In this case, the flavor of the cheese matched with the spiciness of the peppercorns is what creates such a harmony of flavors - and it's hard to stop after just one bite.
Pizza al Taglio
Pizza al Taglio doesn't mean any specific type of pizza; rather, it means 'pizza by the slice.' Throughout Italy, travelers will notice that the pizza is wholly different from one city to the next. Each one has its own traditional ingredients and methods, and in Rome, the method involves giving the pizza an oblong shape.
The toppings can vary from shop to shop but when in Rome, trying the pizza is a must-do activity. More often than not, it'll be better than any pizza you've ever had (sorry, New York) and always features fresh, local ingredients as toppings.
Similar to arancini, these fried rice balls are equally delicious and can be found very easily at street vendors and in local markets throughout Rome. As a general rule of thumb, anywhere that a slice of pizza can be found, these can also be found!
Traditionally, supplí will have very tiny pieces of ground beef, chicken gizzards, or sausage in the rice mix that's used to fill them, or, occasionally, a mix of all three. This is what separates them from traditional arancini, which usually only have either rice and cheese, or rice, cheese, and ground beef. A piece of mozzarella goes into the center of a supplí before it gets fried and served with a side of tomato sauce.
Many countries have their own versions of a roasted pork sandwich (such as the Cuban) and porchetta is specific to Italy. In Rome, this sandwich is very popular and the slow-roasted pork that's used is cooked with herbs, salt, and pepper to ensure it has plenty of flavor.
These sandwiches can be found fairly easily at and delis or markets that are selling sandwiches. The tender pork is a solid match for the crispy ciabatta bread that's usually used to make the sandwich, and it's the perfect meal to pick up for lunch.
For something sweet, maritozzi is the perfect thing to find. This pastry is specific to Rome and is usually eaten in the morning for breakfast with a cup of espresso. The sweet flavor of this cream puff-like pastry is the perfect match for bitter coffee and it's the perfect combination to wake up to in the morning.
In most bakeries and cafés, these delicious treats can be found lining storefront windows. The bun that serves as their base is made with sweetened dough that's filled with subtly sweet whipped cream. A little powdered sugar gets dusted over the top, and then it's ready for eating!