The eternal city is wonderful to visit with its grandiose art visible around every corner you turn. You can soak up the history without even having to step into a museum. With Rome’s historic allure, that intrigues numerous tourists each year, there is one small problem. When it comes to authentic Italian food it is getting harder and harder to find, even for Italian visitors, due to the effects of over-tourism.
Sure, you can grab a bite at one of the many street vendors and fast food trucks that circle the city, parking often in the same lucrative spots, luring travelers into their tourist trap honeypots. All too often these Panini and sandwiches are not the real deal. Instead these vendors’ ingredients are laden with frozen and pre-prepared items that come from factories outside of the city and are barely a reflection what authentic Italian food in Rome is all about.
To help you skip the tourist traps, and dig into some authentic Italian food, I have compiled a few of my favourite restaurants in Rome. These are where you can dig into authentic Italian food without ever having to munch on frozen bread or soggy prosciutto and mozzarella.
AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD THAT IS AS TRADITIONAL AS THEY COME
This is one of the restaurants in Rome that has been around for three generations. It is named after Lella, the kind of chef that just doesn’t exist anymore. A great restaurateur and cook, she was everybody’s Italian grandmother in the 70’s and 80’s due to some major Italian TV appearances. Sora Lella’s cuisine is as authentic as Italian food gets. A few of my favourites you will find at her restaurant in Rome are: Amatriciana, Rigatoni Cacio e Pepe, and “Coda alla Vaccinara”. And just like every true Italian grandmother, you won’t go home starving! So, make sure to come with an appetite and a reservation as it is one of the oldest restaurants in Rome where Italians say: “Si Mangia Bene!” (You eat well!).
WHERE TO FIND AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD ON A BUDGET
Antici Forno Roscioli
If you happen to be taking a stroll near Campo dei Fiori, one of Rome’s favorite squares, you might see the lineup of locals at lunch hour and smell the delicious “Suppli”. Suppli is the quintessential quick lunch that dates back to the 1800’s. Best described as delicious rice filled round balls of ragu and cheese, these might just be what you need if you are looking to spend less time sitting down and more on the go while visiting the Eternal city. Oh, did I forget to say you can have lunch here for just 3€! Now that’s good authentic Italian Food that is perfect for any traveler’s budget.
SLOW AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD IN ROME like MAMMA INTENDED
Da Armando al Pantheon
This restaurant in Rome might be one of the few slow food establishments that you can still find in Rome’s historic centre. An area mostly invaded by what Italians call “Mordi e Fuggi”, take a bite and run, is normally where you would be hard done by to find authentic Italian food. This restaurant in Rome prides itself in only using the best ingredients that are strictly local and represent a little slice of Italian history. I highly recommend trying the “Stracciatella alla Romana”. This is an authentic Italian dish that is so simple yet so amazing, usually only be found served in Italian homes, and rarely at any of the restaurants in Rome.
AUTHENTIC ITALIAN FOOD ALONG THE TIBER
Da Enzo al 29
This small Osteria in Trastevere is located where the magic happens every night, near the Tiber river. The menu is small, the tables are few, but everything is just perfect for quick bite of authentic Italian food. This restaurant in Rome sticks to traditional Italian dining hours, so you can only make reservations for 7:30 pm. Keep this in mind or you will be in for a bit of a wait that is worth your time standing in line. Dig into some truly authentic Italian food by ordering the famous “Carciofo alla Giudea”. These artichokes are especially typical of Roman cuisine in the spring and are simply cooked to perfection when in season. To round out your meal I recommend sharing a classic first dish of Cacio e Pepe and washing it all down with a good bottle of local red wine.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR FINDING AUTHENTIC ITALY FOOD
Visiting Italy is just as much about the epic sites as it is about Italy’s world-famous food. Find good food while on vacation is just as important to Italians, such as myself, as it is for non-Italians in search of some authentic Italian food. So instead of listing another place to eat I thought I would offer the personal tips and tricks that I use when visiting Rome and I am on the lookout to find some authentic Italian Food.
GETTING THE WAVE DOWN
It is a RED FLAG if a person is trying to get you to come inside one their restaurants in Rome. These places are rarely fantastic, and their cuisine usually has nothing to do with verified authentic Italian food. So, when you are being hailed down like a taxi cab, walk-on and move on to the next restaurant in Rome on your list.
BECOME A FAN OF WAITING IN LINE
You would never wait in line unless it was for something good, right? Well Italians are no different. Keep your eyes peeled and be out on the lookout for line-ups. The Eternal city is a busy place and the best restaurants in Rome generally have a que of Italians waiting to get in and grab a bite.
From one food loving traveler to another, take heed and avoid tourist traps by being a little adventurous. Get away from the main tourist sites whenever possible because if you explore a little you might just find the most authentic Italian food inside one of the least expected restaurants in Rome.
Have you eaten at an unexpected restaurant in Rome? One off the radar, that expected off all the boxes for an authentic Italian food experience. If so, I would love to hear from you and know about your experience.
If you have done Rome one too many times and really want to dive into Italian culture where the tourists don’t go, then check out our itineraries filled with authentic, unique food and wine experiences. Or maybe you are trying to figure out how to travel Italy gluten-free? Then check out our gluten-free Italy travel resources or view our tours for gluten-free Italy travel planning made simple.