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Italian cuisine is the most popular in the world, but there's much more to it than just pizza and pasta.

TravelCurious Tip

Dine alfresco in one of the city’s squares for a truly Roman summer evening.

Not built in a day

The Italians are famous for many things, but possibly one of their most widespread influences in the world has been their cuisine. Italian cooking has crossed oceans, and today you can hardly go anywhere without finding pasta on the menu.

The Roman love for food goes back a long way: in ancient Rome dinner time at any patrician’s house was an event full of feasting, entertainment and indulgence in all appetites. The meals would last hours and were extravagant affairs. There were courses of bizarre and exotic food, like peacock, heron, flamingo (with the plumage meticulously reattached for display) and camel’s feet. There were acrobats, fire-breathers and dancers to entertain the guests while they awaited the next course.

Today most Italian mealtimes are a bit less decadent. The traditional Italian meal as we know it was born on the table of the medieval peasant. In the Middle Ages meat was scarce and so the poor would toss pasta, which was cheap and filling, in the same sauce in which the meat was cooked, thus giving it more flavour. The history of pizza goes back as far as the ancient Greeks, who cooked flatbreads topped with herbs, onions and garlic; this too became a popular cheap and nourishing peasant dish.

Tradition reigns supreme

Modern Italians have held onto a formal meal structure of multiple courses, and you will find all of these listed on any menu in Rome. First there is Antipasti, which is the appetiser; it is also perfectly acceptable to order these for lunch. Next you have the Primi, the first course, usually a pasta dish or risotto or soup - be warned that lasagne is prebaked to order in a lot of places and may not be as fresh as other items on the menu. Then there is Secondi, the second course, which is meat or fish, with seafood that bit more expensive. It is worth noting that you will typically be served exactly what you order – no sides. If you want a side dish you can order from the Contori section of the menu.

Roman pizza is distinguished from the thick Neopolitan pizza by its thin, light and crispy base which is slightly charred at the edges. You can get pizzas in most restaurants, and also buy it by the slice in various pizzerias around the city. For dessert (Dolce), you can order favourite Italian inventions like tiramisu and, of course, gelato (ice cream). Dessert is generally accompanied by an espresso. In order to wash all this down you can order a Digestivo, a small liqueur of grappa, sambuca or limoncello. And, of course, the meal should be accompanied by a good bottle of Lazian wine.

The Romans take food seriously and they do it well. Freshness, simplicity and tradition are what you’ll find on the basic trattoria menu, with dishes in common that have hundreds or even thousands of years behind them. Don't miss the chance to eat like a Roman during your stay in the Eternal City.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Rome
Appian Way
This ancient Roman road goes outside the city walls and is crammed with fascinating sights.
Ostia Antica
This well preserved port town allows a real glimpse at day-to-day existence in the ancient Roman Empire.
Castel Gandolfo
A small town housing the Pope's summer palace, perched on a hill above the beautiful Lake Albano.
Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls
This church was built over the burial place of St. Paul, and is one of the four most important basilicas in Rome.
Smothered by a volcano and buried for over 1,500 years, Pompeii's beautiful buildings and art survive for all to see today.
Set below steep cliffs on Italy’s south west coast, Amalfi is filled with picturesque towns and gorgeous scenery.

Related Tours

A Taste of Rome Private Walking Tour: Eat Like An Italian
Munch your way through this tantalising food tour of Rome.

  • Experience Rome's best pasta dishes and wine at Flavio al Velavevodetto.
  • Sample Rome's amazing street food, including the famous 'suppli'.
  • Visit the unmissable Volpetti – a shrine to Roman food and excess.
  • Savour the very best Tiramisu from local pastry shops.  
  • Learn how to discern real gelato from the fake stuff.
  • Try one of Rome's most beloved pizza places.
Take a bite out of one of Rome’s tastiest neighbourhoods with this foodie tour through the enchanting local area of Testaccio. This is a great opportunity to experience authentic Italian cuisine and learn about the country’s delectable wines, whilst encountering a part of the city that is Rome through and through. Embrace the smells, buzz and charm of a neighbourhood where ordinary people live, eat and shop. Your tour guide will take you to the best local eateries, markets and shops, where you will not only get the chance to taste the delicacies but also learn about the people behind the magic. Understand the traditions and values that have produced such tasty good food for generations and see why Italian cuisine continues to be the trend setter for what we enjoy eating and cooking today. You will also have the chance to visit many key landmarks and sights and learn about the fascinating stories behind them.

Take a break from the popular tourist attractions and plunge into the Eternal City’s wine and food culture epicentre – expect to find a new favourite food before your tour is done! Buon appetito!
In Vino Veritas Private Walking Tour: An Evening Wine Tasting
This introductory tour to Roman wine will entice your palate, educate you about wine, cheese and meat pairings and help you choose the right bottle when you get back home – and it’s all set in the stunning evening setting of central Rome. 

  • Sample delicious cheese, meat and other side plates to go with your wine.
  • Learn about how Roman cuisine has evolved over time.
  • Explore the old and elegant Piazza Farnese.
  • Hear stories from over 2000 years of Roman history.
  • Easily adaptable for vegetarian tourers.
Through this three-hour tour, not only will you will learn about how Roman cuisine and palate has evolved over time, but also you will get to sample delicious wine and food. In the wine shops visited, you will try a glass of Prosecco; learn about the traditional pairings of red and white wine with cheese and meat; and sip on two glasses of amazing red and white wine. After several hours of drinking wine, sampling tasty food and learning about the history of one of the longest-held traditions of the Roman people, there’s no doubt you’ll come away feeling pleasantly warm and satisfied. 
Eat and Cook like an Italian Private Experience - Pizza and Gelato Class
Enjoy a fantastic foodie experience as you discover the secrets behind the best Italian dessert, the gelato, and prepare and bake a pizza. 

  • Begin your delectable experience at a historical trattoria 
  • Meet your chef and discuss tips & techniques of traditional Italian recipes 
  • Bake your own pizza and season it with a choice of fresh ingredients  - from basil to  salsiccia
  • Indulge in your wood-fire pizza, with a soft drink to wash it down 
  • Walk off the calories on a short walk to the gelateria 
  • Learn how Italians prepare gelato, before making your own 
Accompanied by your private guide, head to a historical trattoria in Rome and meet the chef, who will teach you how to bake a pizza according to the traditional Italian recipe. Season your own pizza with delicious, fresh ingredients and put it in a wood-fired oven for a perfect cooking. Enjoy the pizza you’ve prepared with your family and friends, accompanied by a soft drink. 

Enjoy a short walk in the city center before heading to your gelato class. Reach a typical roman “gelateria”, an artisanal workshop that has recently been renovated. Engage in a funny, entertaining activity and learn how Italian people prepare the famous gelato. 

 Make your own ice cream following the traditional Italian techniques and recipes and enjoy it with your family.

We built this tour because who wouldn't want to learn how to make their own pizza in Rome?!


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