Fast food, Rome style
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Lunchtime offers you the perfect opportunity to savor Roman fast food—and picnicking is great for any meal: on the steps of a medieval church, on a curb by a fountain on a piazza, on a grassy bit of lawn overlooking the Colosseum by the Roman Forum, or simply back on your hotel room balcony.
Pizza by the slice
Rome's best food-on-the-go is pizza rustica, or pizza à taglio, sold in tiny shops where they cut the pizza of your choice from big, steaming sheets and wrap it halfway up in waxed paper for easy carrying.
Rome averages a tiny pizza rustica joint every three blocks or so. Just pop in, point to the bubbling sheet with your preferred toppings behind the counter, and hand over a couple euro. It's priced by weight, but they'll slice off however much what you hand them will cover. About €2 will get you a healthy portion.
Some varieties to try: pizza margherita (tomato sauce, cheese, and basil), pizza con patate (with julienned potatoes, but no sauce), and pizza napolitana (with anchovies). Or go minimalist with pizza rossa (just the sauce) or pizza bianca (just the dough, brushed with olive oil and salt, sometimes with rosemary; exquisite).
Bars—not just for alcohol
Dining for free in Rome
Want a free dinner in Rome—or at least a hearty snack to stave off hunger until dinner? Do a stuzzichini (snacks) crawl from bar to cafe during the aperitivo /Happy Hour for tons of free bar snacks and scrumptious canapés. » moreA Roman bar, although it does indeed serve liquor, is more what we'd call a cafe, a place to grab a cheap panino (flat roll stuffed with meat, cheese, and/or vegetables) or tramezzino (large triangular sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off—like giant tea sandwiches).
Both come stuffed with fresh mozzarella and pomodori (tomatoes), prosciutto and provolone, or perhaps tonno (tuna).
Eat standing at the bar for the lowest prices (everything costs more if you sit down; Italian quirk).
Tavole calde—Tiny Roman cafeterias
Dar Filettaro - Tucked into a tiny, triangular, sloping piazza just off the southeast corner of Campo de' Fiori you can join the line of people threading to the back of the bare room to order a filet of baccalà (salt cod) fried golden brown da portar via (wrapped in paper to eat as you passeggiata)... Largo dei Librari 88, tel. +39-06-686-4018, Closed Sun; open only evenings. » moreYou can sit down for a quick pasta or prepared meat dish steaming behind the glass counters at a tavola calda (literally "hot table") for about half the price of a trattoria.
The dishes are sold by weight, either on plates for eating in or in little aluminum tubs for take-away.
A rosticceria is basically a tavola calda with spits of chickens roasting in the window.
Picnicking on the freshest food in Rome
A picnic is one of my favorite ways to eat in Italy—and super-cheap. Putting together a Rome picnic—what to order, how to order, shops and markets to get your picnic pickings—is all detailed on its own page. » more
- Putting together a Rome picnic
- Dining in Rome / Rome Restaurants
- Typical dishes in Rome
- Wine bars in Rome
- Pizzerie in Rome
- Gelato in Rome
- Italian dining norms
- Useful Italian phrases for dining
This material was last updated February 2011. All information was accurate at the time.
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