Eating out in Rome

Are you planning a holiday in Rome and wondering: what the best traditional Roman dishes are?

Spare a thought for your palate and the delicious Roman specialities you'll be able to enjoy in the city's characteristic restaurants.  

Typical Roman dishes tend to be highly nutritious since they derive largely from rural traditions where farm workers needed a good, solid meal to keep them going through the day's work. Thanks to the women of the house, who have passed down the original recipes from generation to generation, it is still possible to sample the authentic flavours of Roman cuisine 

Roman specialties

Italians love eating and their cuisine is known and loved throughout the world. And the capital city of Rome is an excellent example of this! 

The dishes one can find in Rome are many and varied: from side dishes to meat dishes, not forgetting pasta, of course, the cornerstone of the Roman diet.

Curious? Here are some Roman recipes that are not to be missed!

Carbonara

Let's start with the first courses. And not just any old first course! 

Pasta Carbonara: typical of Lazio, loved all over the world, anything but a light meal!

An apparently simple recipe, with few ingredients, yet notorious difficult to blend:

- First of all, the pasta: spaghetti or rigatoni

- The guanciale (jowl bacon), or pancetta (pork belly bacon), depending on who you listen (opinions are deeply divided!)

- Eggs

- Pecorino cheese, Roman, of course

- Salt and pepper

The origin of the tasty and enticing first course remains shrouded in mystery. Some attribute its invention to charcoal burners ('carbonari' in Romanesque) due to the easily available and preserved ingredients, while others sustain the allied hypothesis, suggesting the dish originated in the US. 

In any case, whoever the genius was who first blended these ingredients so skilfully, was responsible for creating a delicious and well-loved dish and one with the greatest number of variations abroad, reflecting the recipe's popularity! 

Pasta alla gricia

Well less famous than Carbonara, Pasta alla gricia is no less loved by the citizens of Rome. Also known as "white amatriciana", gricia differs in that is made without tomato and is traditionally served with bucatini, large spaghetti with a hollow centre, as the name suggests ('buco' means hole). 

What about the ingredients? Sautéed onion, Roman pecorino cheese, guanciale, salt and pepper. Once again, a simple, but by no means banal recipe. 

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper)

Yes, another pasta dish! To conclude the trio of first courses, let's try spaghetti cacio e pepe

The recipe consists of just three ingredients: pasta, cheese and pepper. 

The following are some tips on preparation:

- You certainly can't just use any cheese. Clearly, Roman pecorino is the ideal choice, due to the creamy sauce tit creates when mixed with water. 

- The pasta must be drained a few minutes before the suggested cooking time and then finished in a frying pan. This is the only way to obtain the right consistency of the dish.

- In order to ensure that the grated pecorino cheese is melted only by the heat of the pasta and a little of the cooking water, wait until the pasta is ready and has been removed from the heat before adding it. 

Tripe alla Romana

After a enjoying a tasty pasta dish, it's time for a second course.  

Our first meat dish is a recipe of humble traditions and uses less refined but no less tasty cuts of meat: the offal. These were the parts that remained to the peasants after selling the best cuts of meat to their wealthier customers. 

The appearance of tripe can be a little off-putting, and not everyone is brave enough to taste it. But those who do try never regret it! 

Although there are numerous tripe recipes from all over Italy, the "Roman" version is distinguished by the smell of mint, the guanciale and - you guessed it - a generous sprinkling of Roman pecorino!

Tradition has it that tripe is served for lunch on Saturday, but what's wrong with the rest of the week?  

Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal)

This is another world-famous Roman dish. This may be due to its simplicity and the home-cooked tradition, or its delicious taste. 

Originally, saltimbocca was a staple recipe of holidays, celebrations and special occasions. 

The recipe is also mentioned in Pellegrino Artusi's famous cooking manual, considered the first gastronomic survey of Unified Italy. According to Artusi's Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well, the veal chops «the thickness of half a finger»are firstseasoned with salt and pepper, and then garnished with «half a sage leaf (a whole leaf would be too much) and on the sage a slice of ham [...] ».  

La pinsa, a special pizza

The Roman pinsa is not only a variation of the classic pizza, but also its ancestor! 

Soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, thanks to the blend of flour and the fact that the dough is allowed to leaven for 24 hours, la pinsa is much easier to digest than the more famous pizza.

But why is it called pinsa? The term comes from the Latin pinsere, literally "to stretch". In fact, due to its use at the time of the Roman Empire, the typical focaccia took on an oval shape, similar to a tray, on which to place juicy meat preparations. 

Today, it is served with typical cold cuts, vegetables and Roman cheeses.  

In short, to fully appreciate the differences between Roman and traditional pizza, you'll just have to try them both! 

Carciofi alla giudia

And last, but not least, a typical Capitoline side dish: artichokes alla giudia

The excellence of this dish lies not only in the recipe but also in the product itself. In fact, it is prepared using a specific type of artichokes, the cimaroli, also known as mammole. These large, round artichokes do not have thorns, so just tuck in! 

This tasty dish has its origins in the Jewish ghetto of Ancient Rome, yet today it is still one of Italy's favourite dishes. 

How are they cooked? Deep fried in seed oil, and then seasoned with salt and pepper. 

 

Is your mouth watering already? 

Now you know what to order when you sit down to dine in one of the many typical trattorias in the city of Rome.

Enjoy your meal!

 

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