Planning a trip to Rome, the Eternal City? Italy’s capital has plenty to offer for tourists if you know where to look for them. Of course, there’s the magnificent architecture, the grand old churches, the well-preserved ruins from the days of ancient Rome, the sculptures, the art — and, of course, the food. Many people flock to the city for authentic Italian food, filling up ristorantes and trattorias near some of the best-known attractions.
The opulent ambiance, intimate setting, and the fine selection of Italian food and decadent wine pairings create the traditional image of eating in Italy. However, a gastronomic trip to the city is incomplete without trying the Rome street food. And with Italy’s undisputed reputation as home to some of the best dishes in the world, you know that even the street food will be good.
So, here are the most famous ones found in Rome for you to try on your next trip.
Best street food spots in Rome: Buon Apetito!
As the name suggests, street food is usually everywhere in the city. But if you want to make it an itinerary item for Roman street food, there are a few places to get the best ones.
Mercato di Testaccio / Testaccio Food Market
One of the most well-known places in Rome is the Testaccio Market, located in its namesake neighborhood. It’s about thirty minutes away from Roma Termini station by train. The place is steeped in history; initially an open-air market, Testaccio grew into a larger, roof-covered market hall. The size, stalls, and crowds eventually outgrew the original address in 2012, so the market moved to its current 5,000 sqm location in Via Aldo Manuzio.
Testaccio offers some of the best food in Italy, period. The hundred stalls all provide something unique for visitors and locals to try. Some stalls here have been in business for literal decades. Tourists, sightseers, and especially foodies will enjoy a trip here.
Trastevere is a historic district located on the western bank of the Tiber River in Rome. Colloquially known as the city’s bohemian neighborhood, Trastevere is famous for its colorful architecture, vibrant nightlife, and unconventional, artsy atmosphere. Tourists flock to this place in droves to experience the “heart of Rome.” And where there are tourists, there are restaurants, food stalls, and street food.
List of the best Roman street food
Start your street food tour in Rome with five of the best and most popular ones.
Supplí or Suppi: The best street food in Rome
Doing a quick Google search about street foods in Rome will inevitably show you supplí in the top or near the top. And this, my friends, is well-deserved.
Suppli are traditional Roman dishes. They’re deep-fried, slightly oblong balls made from rice and a tomato/meat-based sauce, with a square of cheese, usually mozzarella, at the center and coated with breadcrumbs for that extra crunch before the gooey center. It’s one of Rome’s most famous street foods, which locals and tourists love. The simple ingredients and easy preparation ensure these delicious rice balls can be found everywhere in the city. You can try La Casa del Supplì at Viale Furio Camillo if you’re ever nearby.
Italians are very creative in the culinary arts, and you can bet that they’ve adjusted supplí’s recipe for every occasion. Additions like black pepper, meaty centers, seafood fillings, or completely vegetarian options are widely available. There are several popular types like Cacio e Pepe supplí, carbonara supplí, and a whole lot more.
Pizza al Taglio: An authentic Roman food experience
People automatically think of Rome, art, history, culture, churches, and pizza when someone says Italy. Translated as “pizza by the slice,” this heavenly little street food is another excellent choice for a quick and satisfying meal. The recipe could trace its roots back to Rome itself, made by baking traditional Italian pizza in square or rectangular trays, making them a bit bigger than the traditional circular sliced pizza (pizza rondo).
Pizza al Taglio is sold by weight, usually by 100 grams, which makes them excellent choices for Roman street food on the go. Take a tiny slice or a big chunk, whichever you prefer. Eat it while walking or watching the crowd pass by in one of Rome’s many piazzas. Topping choices depend on the store, but this is Rome, for goodness’ sake. You know that there will be a lot of choices, some of which might be new and unfamiliar to tourists. You can find some of the best pizza al taglio in Rome in the Testaccio Market or the Trastevere neighborhood.
Trapizzino: A novel take on pizza
Have you ever folded a pizza slice in half and eaten it like a sandwich? In Italy, you don’t have to resort to such tactics. Not when you can get trapizzino in Rome.
Trapizzino (trapizzini for plural) is the term for a half-sandwich, half-pizza street food shaped like a triangle or a cone. The name is a play on the words tramezzino (triangular sandwich) and pizza.
The bread or crust is usually thicker than the usual pizza; after frying or baking, the triangle’s base is cut open and topped up with various fillings (the process that sets it apart from calzones, although this has changed in recent years.) The usual ingredients are beef, chicken, pork, fish, and egg, but trapizzini can be filled with more exotic fare like cuttlefish, tripe, cod, and oxtail. Its presentation makes it a popular food to eat on the go.
What’s surprising about this famous street food is that it’s relatively new. Pizza al taglio, in its current form, was first introduced in the 1950s. Supplí is even older, with records indicating that it was being sold in Rome during the 19th century. Trapizzini, meanwhile, was first sold in 2008 by Pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari in his store 00100, located in the Testaccio District. It was an immediate success in Rome, with the novel concept spreading like wildfire throughout the city.
Since then, the original 00100 store has closed down and been rebranded as Trapizzino. There are six of these stores in Rome, in places such as Testaccio, Mercato Centrale, and Ponte Milvio. These places offer other food like supplí and supplement their menu with various liquor like craft beers. The Trastevere branch is particularly noteworthy for also being a winery. You can check the classic Trapizzino store website here.
Carciofi alla Giudia: A marriage of cultures
Ancient Rome (both Republic and Imperial flavors) and Judea didn’t have the best relationship during the first few centuries A.D. Jewish settlements didn’t like how Roman armies tramped and Pax Romana-ed around the Mediterranean with their plumed helmets and their many, many gods. Romans, meanwhile, didn’t appreciate Judea’s monotheistic approach and refusal to have their religion co-opted into the Roman pantheon. Neither did they like their provinces rising in revolt.
Over the centuries, the schism between the two states and their different beliefs was healed, and Rome became more accepting of the Jewish faith and way of life — a sentiment neatly represented by the fact that the next item on our list is a distinct combination of both cuisines.
Cariofi alla Giudia, or “Jewish-style artichokes,” is a beloved and iconic street fare in the Eternal City, part of the Roman Jewish cuisine. The dish is made using Romanesco artichokes, which can be harvested between February and April. They are then cleaned, trimmed, flattened, and arranged to resemble a flower, then deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. The artichokes are then seasoned with salt and other ingredients with the aim of complimenting or contrasting their deep-fried flavor. Cariofi alla Giudia is a popular street food found in many places in the city.
Pinsa: Revisiting Rome’s older recipes
On paper, pinsa sounds like (in more ways than one) some sort of pizza. Both are flat, both are baked, and both are topped with several ingredients. The difference primarily lies in the dough. Traditional Neopolitan pizza dough is made with yeast, wheat flour, water, and salt. Pinsa’s dough is made using a blend of different flours like rice, wheat, and soy, which makes it more fluffy and crumbles easily. Additionally, the dough is fermented to give it an extra kick in flavor. This unique combination makes pinsa lighter both in texture and in terms of calories. Pinsas are also made in uneven oval shapes due to the consistency of their dough.
There is evidence that the recipe for pinsa has existed since ancient Roman times, making them a part of classic Roman dishes. Its adoption into contemporary culinary circles has been met with enthusiasm, with the type of street food growing in popularity in recent years.
Maritozzo con la panna
This is one of Rome most famous sweet. It is a soft and pillowy brioche bun usually sliced in half and filled with a lot of whipped cream. People in Rome eat this delicacy for breakfast or as a mid morning snack. Many pastry shops or coffee shops sell these freshly baked every morning.
That wraps it up for our favorite street foods. There are a few more popular choices in the Rome street food scene that we haven’t discussed, like gelato, porchetta, maritozzo, and others. Our list is by no means extensive, and we’re sure you’ll find other Italian street food to try on your walking tour. Again, food is an important part of Rome’s rich history and culture. So take the time and relish them during your trip.