With its quaint streets, beautiful culture, and easy living, Italy represents a deliberate and enjoyable life. The most authentic Italian experience is incomplete without good food which is very high on a typical Italian family’s priority list. However, in order to truly experience the most authentic Italian cuisine there is, you need not look beyond the busy streets of Rome. Filled with enterprising vendors selling home-made recipes that have been passed down for generations, the streets of Rome promise the ultimate Italian gastronomical experience that even the most jaded traveller would die for. To know more about this, check out our list of the 11 best street foods you must try in Rome, Italy.
Few authentic Italian dishes have taken the world by storm quite the way pizza has. With a soft thin bread covered with your choice of toppings including the special tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and other ingredients such as olives and basil leaves to add that texture and flavour that everyone craves, pizza has been adopted all over the world as a popular fast-food item. During your trip to Rome, you cannot miss the authentic Italian way of making pizza in a wood-fired oven. The pizza is baked in under two minutes in a stone oven that is heated up with pieces of wood for a few hours. With shredded cheese sprinkled over the pizza and traditional herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, and basil, you get a homely meal that is extremely delicious and filling.
2. Tigelle (Italian flatbread)
This type of flatbread is popular throughout Rome. It is a traditional dish served with pesto sauce, meat, or cheese. The word “tigelle” refers to clay plates that were used to cook the flatbread. Today, cooking methods have improved and the disc-shaped flatbreads are now cooked in a cast iron pan. Once baked, the tigelle is cut open and stuffed with delicious toppings such as cured meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, and pesto sauce. These days, fusion dishes are very common and you can easily find them on the streets. Some tigelle is even topped with salami, jams, ice cream, or chocolate.
3. Arancini (Fried rice balls)
Served as snacks throughout the streets of Rome, arancini balls are great meals to munch on as you go on walking tours or sightseeing excursions through the city. Prepared by coating rice balls in a batter of egg and bread crumbs then deep-fried, this snack is a sinful pleasure to indulge in and reward yourself with after a long day of sightseeing. Arancini literally translates to “little orange” which is what the little rice balls look like when deep-fried. In addition to rice, the fillings can be customised according to your preferences, from meat and tofu to some special sauce and cheese. Depending on which part of the city, you might find minor differences in the recipe owing to the regional variants this dish has.
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4. Panini (Italian sandwich)
Literally means “bread roll”, panini is Italy’s version of a sandwich. Made from bread toasted on both sides in a grill, panini is another popular Italian meal served all over the world. Originally called panino imbottito, which means “stuffed bread”, the term panini has become more popular in general use. To prepare this bread, vendors often have a special panini grill that is similar to a sandwich press. Stuffings include the usual ingredients that you can find in a club sandwich mixed with unique spices and herbs used in Italian cooking. You can find paninis prepared with meats of all kinds, tofu, cheese, vegetables, and more.
5. Porchetta Romana (Italian pulled pork)
Similar to a pork roast, porchetta is deboned pork with stuffing. The pork is specially prepared with a variety of flavourings such as salt, oregano, pepper, basil, thyme, garlic, rosemary, and more. This is a celebratory dish much like an English pork roast, and you can order it from streetside cafes in Rome. These days, you can also find many variants of porchetta ranging from porchetta sandwiches and porchetta pizzas to porchetta with rice.
6. Suppli (Rice ball)
Suppli, derived from the French word for surprise, is a popular snack in Italy. It is a must-eat Italian street food that you shouldn’t miss while vacationing in Rome. Suppli is prepared by coating rice balls with spiced batter and bread crumbs, and then deep-fried. Aside from the rice balls, you can also get suppli with other fillings such as minced meat, vegetable, mozzarella cheese, and more!
7. Carciofi alla Giudia (Jewish-style artichokes)
As one of the most popular dishes in Roman-Jewish cuisine, this dish is prepared by deep-frying artichokes after marinating them in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Usually, you can find it being served at Jewish restaurants along the streets of Rome. You can try this out as side dish to your main meal. This dish is usually available in the springtime as Roman’s artichokes are harvested after January every year.
8. Cuoppo Napoletano (Neapolitan cup)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
One of the most popular street foods in Rome, cuoppo napoletano is a great snack to munch on as you enjoy your walking tours along the streets of Rome, or while you are waiting for your pizza. It is prepared using a paper cone that holds a variety of deep-fried snacks such as potato croquettes, mini panzerotti (stuffed dough pockets), courgette flowers, mozzarella, zeppole (fried dough balls), and more. It can be a proper meal if you don’t mind fried foods.
9. Trapizzino (Pizza pocket)
This amazing dish is as popular as pizza and is sold in stores and restaurants throughout the world today. Essentially a pizza folded into a pocket, it combines the best of pizzas and pita pockets into a delicious dish that can be stuffed with a variety of fillings. You can find this anywhere throughout Rome.
10. Olive all’ascolana (Stuffed and fried olives)
All'ascolana, which means “Ascoli style”, is a recipe that originated from the town of Ascoli. Ascolano olives, a special variant of olives available in Italy, are commonly used in this special street food dish. Olives are first stuffed with a meat filling, then coated in batter and bread crumbs, and then deep-fried until golden brown. The meat filling used for this snack can be chicken, beef, or pork.
11. Lampredotto (Classic Florentine sandwich)
Hailing from Florentine, this unique dish is made from the fourth stomach of cows and a testament to the humble origins of most of Italy’s street food. Italians in the olden days could only afford a specific type of meat depending on their economic conditions, and the cow’s fourth stomach is one of the less popular parts. Today, it has become a classic dish because of the delicious way it is prepared.
An exceptional gastronomical experience in Rome
The best way to learn more about Italian culture is by going on a food tour. So when you plan a trip to Rome, be sure to sample all the traditional Italian dishes that the locals have been improving for generations.
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