A Budget Traveler’s Guide to Local Foods in Rome

When in Rome, do as Romans do including eating tons of carbs. No, not necessarily pastries or croissants like you’d eat in Paris. Rather, follow the locals and fill your plate with pasta or get a slice or two of pizza. And don’t forget to finish your meal with a little treat high in carbs of course. You are in Rome, the capital of carbs, after all. What’s more, you can eat like a local in Rome and still stay on budget. This budget traveler’s guide to local foods in Rome is going to show you how.


Pasta is huge in Rome. There is literally no day without spaghetti and noodles in the capital of Italy. Delicious, creamy pasta when you travel on a budget? It’s easy! With that being said, for all my fellow budget travelers, get your forks ready and try these local foods in Rome.

Spaghetti Carbonara

Every chef is absolutely sure in his or her way of preparing a dish. Moreover, they are convinced that only their recipes and methods of cooking make the food taste divine. Spaghetti carbonara didn’t escape this fate. There are many variations of carbonara, one of the most popular local foods in Rome that even budget travelers find hard to resist.

One thing about this dish, however, unites all great Italian cooks. Roman spaghetti carbonara should never have cream added to it. Two main ingredients that differ this dish from other types of spaghetti or rigatoni are eggs and guanciale (cured pork jowls or cheeks). The recipe is simple. You cook the port in fat and put it in the fresh spaghetti. The next step is adding raw eggs (some recipes ask for only egg yolk), cheese and more fat if needed. And your first budget traveler’s local food in Rome is ready.

Local foods in Rome for budget travelers, roadsanddestinations.com

Bucatini Amatriciana

Bucatini amatriciana is a perfect local dish for those budget travelers who look for the creamiest pasta in Rome. The dish is similar to spaghetti carbonara with the exceptions that it uses bucatini noodles and amatriciana salsa. The signature sauce includes guanciale, Pecorino cheese, tomato, white whine, black pepper, chili and sometimes onion. It goes very well with spaghetti with bigger holes to get soaked in all this creaminess.

Cacio e Pepe

In several Italian dialects, “cacio e pepe” means “cheese and pepper”. And this dish like no other local foods in Rome stays true to its literal translation to the delight of all budget travelers. It’s so simple that even kids can cook this dish. All you need is black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, pasta and a bit of starchy cooking water. Easy and delicious!


Exploring Rome certainly takes lots of energy. Often in a rush to see many landmarks of the city visitors simply don’t have time for a proper meal. In that case suppli come to the rescue. The suppli are deep-fried risotto balls with bits of meat and tomato sauce (classic recipe) and gooey mozzarella cheese in the center. One of the most popular local foods, this snack gives budget travelers necessary boost to continue their sightseeing activities in Rome for hours to go.


Trapizzino is one of the newest culinary inventions in Rome. This street food combines elements of pizza and sandwich. The principle is simple. A pizza pocket gets stuffed with Roman classics like eggplant Parmesan, meatballs, chicken cacciatore and tongue with sauce.

Local foods in Rome for budget travelers, roadsanddestinations.com

Pizza al Taglio

Pizza is a signature dish in every part of Italy. In Rome though this type of local foods takes a completely unconventional look that at first can really confuse unaccustomed budget travelers. In most cases pizza in Rome doesn’t have a classic round shape. Rather, dough is baked in square pans with variety of toppings such as marinara (tomato sauce), cheeses, vegetables and meats. Furthermore, pizza in Rome is called pizza al taglio, which means “pizza by the slice”. Usually you choose a selection of slices of different kinds of pizzas and pay per kilo per type of slice.


Baccala is one of those local foods that go well with both budget travelers and gourmets dining at expensive restaurants of Rome. As street snack, baccala or salted cod is fried in batter and served hot.


Non-vegetarian budget travelers are especially happy about porchetta, one of the heaviest local foods in Rome. The main ingredient includes slow-roasted pork seasoned with salt, pepper and herbs. The meat is usually served as a sandwich filling.


Every place has at least one food that signifies its culture and traditions. In Rome such food is artichoke. A simple vegetable steals hearts and stomachs of locals and visitors alike. In fact, in late November and springtime, when artichoke is in season, Romans seem not to have enough of it. There are different ways of cooking and eating this favorite food. The most popular of them are Jewish (artichokes are deep-fried) and Roman styles (Carciofi alla Romana or artichokes stewed with garlic, mint and parsley). Restaurants usually serve this plant as a side dish. Many budget travelers, however, like the convenience of eating Roman local foods in the form of sandwiches. Moreover, quite often you will find pizzas with artichokes toppings.


Gelato in Rome, roadsanddestinations.com


Cannoli came to Rome from Sicily. This fact tough never got in their way of becoming one of the most favorite local treats. Cannoli consist of tube-shaped shells filled with a sweet, creamy ricotta mixture.


Your visit to Rome can’t be complete without traditional gelato. On top of that, Roman popular frozen desert literally overwhelms you with variety of flavors. From chocolate to fruity and nutty taste you hardly resist the temptation to try all of them. However, make sure to check out labels as many places sell gelato with lots of artificial colors and other not so healthy ingredients. For vegan and health conscious budget travelers, Grezzo Raw Chocolate offers some of the best local gelato and other sweet foods in Rome.


Traditional Roman breakfast can put a frown on face of any nutritionist. Cappuccino and a pastry is not what they’d recommend to eat in the morning. Locals in Rome, however, don’t give up of their favorite foods and share them with all type of visitors including budget travelers. Thus, alongside croissants you can find maritozzi, sweet bread rolls filled with whipped cream, on breakfast tables in Rome.

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