Rome Eating Guide

Eating is a pleasure in the Eternal City, with tons of different choices from its world-famous Italianrome food cuisine. Here are some things that you should know in dining in at Rome.

Trattoria – This is usually a family-owned diner that serves home cooking. It is actually considered more of an eating club rather than a restaurant. The trattoria has no menus, casual service, few food choices, low prices, and emphasis on having a steady clientele rather than having sophisticated cuisine. The food is modest and served in family-sized quantities. The best tratorrie are found in Trastevere and the old Jewish quarter such as Da Lucia (try Roman specialty “pollo con peperoni” or chicken with peppers) and Paris (old-fashioned Roman-Jewish cuisine).

Ristorante – The Italian version of a restaurant. A ristorante is more formal in setting, with a wider selection of dishes. Among the most famous in Rome are “Boccondivino” in Colonna (which features new versions of Italian classic cuisine), Il Posto Accanto in Via del Boschetto; La Rosetta in Centro Storico (focuses on seafood dishes, although expensive); and Vecchia Roma also in Centro Storico (ideal to visit during summer).

Osteria – An osteria is actually an inn. It only boasts of a few local dishes, but the serving of wine is almost endless.

Pizzeria – As the name suggests, it is where you get your fill for pizzas. Aside from pizzas, pizzeria also serves antipasto, pasta, meat, and vegetable dishes. To savor the best-tasting pizzas, it is best to visit the pizzeria at night as it takes almost the whole day to get the wood in the oven at the right temperature. Also, avoid going to pizzerias in tourist areas as the pizzas there are not only doubly-prized, but also tastes like reheated frozen pizza. Get Rome’s most famous pizza at “Da Baffetto” along Via del Governo Vecchio, or mingle among the locals and students at “Pizzeria Maratoneta” in Via dei Volsci. Roman pizzas are usually thin-crusted.

Pizza al taglio – In other words, “pizza by the slice.” It is a good and inexpensive way to have your quick food fill. Just point at the pizza that you want and tell the attendant how big (or how small) the pizza slice should be. The slices are actually sold by weight, usually at every 100 grams.

Panini – Simply put, these are Italian sandwiches made from small loaves of bread, usually ciabatta, and filled with salami, ham, meat, cheese among others. When ordering for panini, the attendant would always ask if you want your sandwich toasted. If you rather keep it hot, just say, “Caldo, per favore.” Remember that panini is a plural term; its singular form is panino. So, it would be quite an embarrassment to order for “2 paninis” or “1 panini.”

Gelato – This flavorful desert is an Italian version of ice cream, its difference being denser and it does not contain any cream (only milk, sugar, and fresh fruit—or other types of food—used for flavoring). When looking for a gelateria, make sure it has a big “G” signaage on it outside. You pay for your ice cream first, take your receipt, then fight your way through the crowd to choose your flavors. Upon ordering, the attendant would ask, “Panna?”, meaning if you want whipped cream on top of your gelato (this is usually free). Remember that you have to pay extra just to sit inside the gelateria.

Offal – Some cow innards are also eaten in Rome, as well as most parts of Italy. You might not know with the Italian words described in your dish, but you could be eating an offal without knowing. For instance, “trippa” means cow tripe (towel-like stomach lining), while “osso buco” means bone marrow, and “coratella” means heart.

Vegetarian cuisine – Finding a vegetarian dish in a traditional Italian ristorante is relatively easy. Buffets usually have a good range of delicious vegetable dishes such as roast peppers and aubergines. Also, not all pizzas have cheese such as a Marinara (tomato, garlic, and oregano). However, there are actually a few vegetarian restaurants in Rome. “Arancia Blu” in Via Dei Latini is posh and a bit overpriced, but the wine list is impressive.

Coffee – Ordering for coffee in Rome, as with much of Italy, is completely different from what you might get used to in Starbucks. For instance, a “latte” is just a glass of milk; if you want coffee in your latte, ask for “caffe’ latte.” A “latte macchiato” is steamed milk stained with a smaller shot of espresso. “Espresso” is espresso, but more commonly referred to as “caffe’.” “Espresso doppio” means double shots of espresso, while “espresso macchiato” is espresso marked with a dab of steamed milk. “Americano” tastes similar to filer coffee and it is not drunk by the locals. Also, be reminded that it is considered very un-classy to order a “cappuccino” after 11:00 a.m. or after a meal.

 
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