Rome is known for their amazing cuisine. It will change your perspective on food, resulting in a life-changing experience by the time you leave the city. There is a lot to learn about what makes food great. It’s not just something you consume to survive, but something to enhance your lifestyle. You don’t need a lot to elevate a dish. Cacio e pepe is notorious for proving you need four simple ingredients to make a tasty dish.
When Eena and I went to Rome last year, we had an idea about what we wanted to eat, but a lot of the final decisions were on the spot. I love that because there is more flexibility, and I’m not stressing out about having to hit a certain destination. Italians LOVE Google reviews, and the results were pretty spot on. The rule is four stars and above.
McDonald’s De Italia
We did not go to the McDonald’s at the iconic historical location. We went to the one at the train station (Roma Termini Railway Station (XRJ)) due to convenience, and it was almost 11PM. I kept hearing that McDonald’s in foreign countries is better than in the US. It was late, so I didn’t want to commit to an entire hamburger. Nonetheless, here’s my order:
- Fries: The fries tasted the same. No net difference.
- Chicken Wings: I was surprised at how amazing the chicken wings tasted. It was VERY crispy and better than Buffalo Wild Wings, Wingstop, and Bonchon combined.
- Chicken McNuggets: The breadding is different in Italy. I prefer the ones in the US more.
- Tomato and Mozzarella Panzerotti: The little calzones weren’t all that impressive. There wasn’t enough filling, and I felt like I was eating bread. Not recommended.
My friends recommended that I order an espresso and a pastry if I wanted a true Italian breakfast experience. I said, “say less”. During the walk to the Colosseum, we found Er Caffettiere. They had a huge selection of delicious pastries. The espresso kept me awake throughout the morning. I ordered the cream-filled croissant.
Via Urbana, 72/73
00184 Roma RM, Italy
We were HUNGRY after the Colosseum tour. The first few lunch choices had lines, and we eventually found Pasta Imperiale. This is a very casual pasta restaurant with made-to-order dishes. You can choose the pasta, sauce, drink, and dessert. The price ratio is amazing, so you can’t ask for the world. It was enough to inspire me to remember that Italian dishes are simple. A few ingredients make the whole dish.
Via del Boschetto, 112
00184 Roma RM, Italy
Rome Food Tour
We booked a Rome food tour, and the guide took us throughout the community to taste some staple dishes. The tour guide was great at communicating the history behind certain dishes, fun facts, and how they’re made. I was definitely cultured through this food tour.
First, we stopped by a meat shop. Italy is known for salami, prosciutto, soppressata, and other cold cuts. There are different grades of salami, with the fancier ones being infused with truffle.
Arancini is a fun appetizer, which is basically a deep-fried rice ball. It can be stuffed with cheese, meat, risotto, and other fillings. I love onigiri, but this is a great alternative. I’ve never had arancini in the US. White Truffle Arancini is a menu item at Bottega Louie, so I guess I’ve missed out all this time! Now I know!
Pizza shops in Italy sell by the weight. You can choose to have a thick slice or a small bite. I’m a huge fan of this because it helps people control their portion intake. There are different styles of pizza throughout Italy. My favorite is the Neapolitan pizza… From Naples, of course. The rectangle cutouts had a different texture and taste. Interestingly, potato and zucchini pizza is a thing in Italy.
We learned about the history of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome. The term “ghetto” originated from Italy to indicate the impoverished areas. The Carciofo Alla Giudia (deep-fried artichoke) also originated from the Jewish community in Rome. I had a huge appetite for artichokes in 2023, so this was perfect. It tasted like what a deep-fried artichoke should be.
We finished the Rome food tour with gelato! We learned the indications between real gelato shops. Pistachio should never be green, so expect it to be brown. I had coconut gelato, which kick-started my craving for coconut-flavored ice cream in the US.
Another breakfast consisting of pastries and espresso! We found this cafe outside of the Vatican. Perfect!
PS. The rule is that you cannot have a cappuccino after 12:00PM. You better get this through your morning fixes.
Piazza del Risorgimento, 7
00192 Roma RM, Italy
Sfiziami Italian Bistrot
We were looking for a pasta restaurant after our Vatican tour. The portion size was really generous here, and we could tell the difference between here and Pasta Imperiale. It did take a while because the table before us had eight people. This was where I learned I had made a mistake by ordering “heavy” pasta. Maybe I didn’t need all of that meat. It didn’t help that our prioritized options were not available.
Via degli Ombrellari, 7
00193 Roma RM, Italy
This was our first legit restaurant because the menus didn’t have pictures, and the Italian culture was heavy among the staff. Eena ordered a very delicious mussel pasta, which made me jealous, and I prioritized that dish in Ostia.
My appetite was out of order during the trip, and I didn’t know what to eat. The staff (I think his name is Franco) was very helpful and recommended a fish dish. They brought out an entire cooked fish and a different staff member deboned it for me. He dissected the fish with just a fork and knife and removed its skin, bones, and junk (like the fins and veins). With the sauce, this was the best cooked fish I’ve ever had. I felt so cultured that I took this knowledge and deboned a cooked fish in the US.
I also made the mistake of drinking espresso at 9PM, which explained why I pretty much had an all-nighter and binged Shadow and Bone.
Via Vicenza, 18
00185 Roma RM, Italy
Bar Fondi (or Caffe Fondi) was our last stop during our Rome tour. More espresso and pastries for breakfast, and this locked me in. Since coming back from Rome, I’ve mostly had espresso. I stopped drinking iced coffee. This fixed my stomach issue.
Via Milazzo, 16
00185 Roma RM, Italy