When many of us think of Italian food, our minds (and mouths) usually think of the culinary delicacies of Sicily with their cannoli, delish seafood dishes, cassata among many others. Or perhaps your thoughts and taste buds jump to Napoli and the exquisite pizza that can be had there. What about the culinary delights from Tuscany? Or the delicious dishes of Bologna and its surroundings?
And then there’s Rome and Lazio.
Recently, I held a party with some of my friends, and one of them asked me: “What’s good to eat in Rome?”
You’ll hear Italians often say that Rome is one of the worst places to eat out. Many of the great restaurants are simply too expensive for the casual diner, and you will almost never find an Italian eating at a restaurant that caters to tourists. It is difficult to suggest great restaurants since everyone has such wide and varying tastes, but, when I know of a great place to dine and try a specific dish, I will recommend a restaurant.
Below are some typical Roman dishes that you must try on your next trip to Rome:
- Spaghetti alla Carbonara
This is a very popular Roman dish, and you’ll see it served not only with spaghetti but with rigatoni and other forms of pasta. I ate this dish in Rome at a great little restaurant called Trattoria Perilli (via Marmorata, 39), but without the spaghetti (pictured).
This is by far my favorite Roman dish, and the mixture of eggs, cheese, and guanciale just comes together so well. You will find this dish prevalent on many Italian menus, even in the more tourist-centric restaurants.
Trattoria Perilli is a great place to dine and most certainly a Roman establishment. Please keep in mind that, since this restaurant is “off the beaten track” that the waitstaff does not speak English, I cannot promise that there would be an English menu. Also, reservations, according to many reviews of this trattoria, are recommended.
- Penne all’arrabbiata click to see some images
This angry pasta dish is very spicy! If you like your pasta dishes with a bit of a kick, then this one is definitely for you. Most often served with penne, this is a simple tomato sauce with abundant amouth of peperoncini (for an added punch!), some garlic and tomato sauce and usually served with some chopped parsley. The best part — you can make this dish at home once you get back from your trip and have it taste just like it did while you were in Rome!
- Bucatini all’Amatriciana
This is another Roman culinary staple and is another one of the most famous Roman dishes that you have probably had in a restaurant in an Italian restaurant in your own home.
What’s in this dish? It’s usually made with bucatini, a rounder and slight thicker form of pasta than spaghetti. It’s also has pieces of guanciale, tomatoes, salt, pepper, a little white whine, and a hint of pepperoncino and some pecorino cheese.
The photo, pictured on your left, is also from Trattoria Perelli. Doesn’t that just look scrumptious?
- Coniglio alla Ciociara click to see a photo
This is a very typical dish from the area of Ciociara and also of Lazio! Coniglio is rabbit, and it is quite a tasty dish if you do not mind eating rabbit. It is served with a bit of garlic, anchovies, and a variety of spices! It has an interesting blend of flavors that you might be surprised to find quite enjoyable!
- Carciofi alla giudia click to see some photos
Artichokes are a staple of many Roman dishes, and this one by far is one of the most famous if not most tasty! You’ll find this dish served up a lot in the Jewish Ghetto section of Rome (Ghetto ebraico di Roma). They are cooked in an abundance of olive oil after being coated with a healthy coating of salt and pepper and then cooked on high heat for several minutes. They are often served as an appetizer (antipasto) in many Roman restaurants.
- Bignè di San Giuseppe
These tasty puff pastries are to die for! Anyone who has been to Rome and Lazio during Carneval is sure to have eaten them. They are filled with a delicious custard and are typically found in Rome between Carneval and the festival of San Giuseppe on March 19th.