Rome is visited by 9.4 million tourists annually and is the 12th most visited city in the world. Much like the city, its cuisine has evolved over centuries due to political, social and cultural changes in the region. In ancient times, the Rome was considered to be the center of Italian gastronomy. Trying Roman cuisine is a must-have experience during your Italian trip, so don’t forget to try these traditional foods during your stay in the capital!
This pasta dish has been imitated around the world and adopted into different cuisines, although many Romans would argue that it has been done incorrectly! The real Carbonara recipe consists of: raw eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, black pepper, guanchiale (pork cheek) and spaghetti. The origin of the dish has been debated. Some believe that it was added into Italian cuisine after the Second World War when U.S troops provided eggs and bacon to the Italians. Another theory is that it is a modern version of the ancient dish “pasta alla gricia” which was incorporated into Italian cuisine in the 1800s.
Where to try it? The super famous Roman restaurant Sora Lella won the award for the best carbonara in the world! Make sure to reserve well ahead of time!
2. Cacio Pepe
This traditional Roman dish is named after its ingredients, literally “cheese and pepper”, not just any cheese but Pecorino Romano cheese (just like carbonara!). While the dish is prepared, the pasta water isn’t completely drained from the cooked spaghetti and is instead used to melt the cheese. The starch in the water helps mix the cheese and pepper with the spaghetti. This Roman staple is found in nearly every restaurant in the capital, but the Trastevere neighbourhood is a great place to try it!
You need a strong stomach for this Roman dish (literally) as trippa is the stomach lining of either cattle or sheep. Trippa alla Romana, or “Roman tripe” is prepared with vegetables, garlic, white wine and mint. It is served with tomato sauce just like regular pasta. It was adopted into Roman cuisine by the lower classes of society as it was the part of the “leftovers” once the clergy and noblemen had purchased the more expensive pieces of meat from the local butcher.
4. Carciofi alla Romana/alla giudia
If you take a look at a Roman menu, you are guaranteed to find artichokes! These flowers (not vegetables!) are consumed and prepared “alla Romana” meaning, the Roman way. The recipe involves preparing the artichokes while they are in season and fresh rather than using frozen or canned products. The artichokes are marinated with lemon juice, parsley, mint, and garlic. They are braised on a pan and mixed with oil and white wine. A similar version of this artichoke recipe is “carciofi alla giudia” which means “Jewish style artichokes”. The Jewish community made a big impact on traditional Roman cuisine, having contributed many recipes. You can still try carciofi alla giudia in the Jewish neighbourhood in Rome in the springtime, when the artichokes are harvested in the local area.