Food to Try During Your Italy Travel Adventure
Italy is a country that is world-famous and dearly loved for its simple, yet utterly delicious food. With some of the best pizza, pasta, meat dishes, fish, seafood, breads & baked goods, pastries, sweet treats, coffee, and wine, a trip to Italy is a absolutely a trip to culinary heaven! A few superb, expensive meals in Rome are an absolute must if you can afford it, but if you’re on a budget, don’t worry – there are many fantastic, affordable food options that will also sate your appetite and leave a smile on your face. Here are a few of the best options for eating on the cheap during your Italy travel adventure:
1. Pizza al Taglio – Slices of Happiness
Pizza al Taglio, or “pizza by the slice”, is one of the most popular take-away foods in Rome. The pizza is baked in huge rectangles, with a large and mouth-watering variety of toppings available, including mozzarella, basil & tomato, quattro stagioni (cheese, mushrooms, artichokes, ham, & olives), and many more unique and delicious topping combinations! Choose a few slices of whatever kind of pizza you fancy, and enjoy them as a snack or as a quick and affordable lunch in-between sightseeing. Pizza al Taglio is usually generously laden with fresh, locally sourced toppings, with a medium thickness base instead of the characteristic thin, crunchy base that most round Roman pizzas have. When in doubt or stuck for ideas for a quick meal when out in Rome, pizza al taglio is always a good choice.
Foodie suggestion: Buy some pizza al taglio and some drinks, and have a picnic in one of Rome’s beautiful public parks. The shade will be a welcome oasis from the sweltering heat in summer!
You can also often get arancini at a pizzeria al taglio – deep-fried, crumbed rice balls stuffed with meat, cheese, or veggies. Arancini pack a flavour punch, but are quite rich and indulgent!
2. Roman Vegetables – Broccoli, carciofi, zucchini
If you’re looking for a light, healthy lunch on the go, why not try some of Rome’s unique vegetables? Roman artichokes are especially popular, as are vegetables dishes including a mixture of grilled or fried aubergine (melanzane), sautéed green beans, steamed Roman broccoli, zucchini, and tomatoes. You can order a side dish of vegetables at a restaurant and have them as a small lunch, or buy fresh vegetables at a local farmer’s market, like the one at Campo di Fiori, and cook them at your hostel or rented apartment. A visit to one of the vegetable markets offers a great opportunity to experience daily life and the food culture of Rome.
Foodie suggestion: Vegetable side dishes go very well with foccacia (flat bread), some slices of cheese, and cold meats! Add a glass of white wine and you’ve got a simple yet satisfying Italian lunch.
3. La Dolce Vita – Sweet Treats
If you enjoy a sweet late-afternoon snack or a great dessert, then Rome will not disappoint! Here are a few suggestions to look out for:
- Cannoli – a mouthful of heaven! A rich ricotta filling rolled in a firm pastry casing, the cannoli is an indulgent and creamy dessert that makes the perfect end to a great dinner.
- Amaretti – small, crunchy biscuits with a strong almond taste, and the perfect accompaniment to an after dinner espresso with a shot of Amaretto on the side.
- Panettone – usually available before, during, and after Christmas, panettone is a large, semi-dry sweet bread loaf made with sultanas and commonly served with mascarpone and coffee.
- Torrone & torroncini – a hard nougat candy that is often coated in chocolate, and delightfully crunchy!
- Tiramisu – a decadent dessert made with layers of savoiardi (“lady finger” biscuits) soaked in coffee liqueur, liberal layers of mascarpone, and a dusting of cocoa on top.
- Biscotti – hard, crunchy biscuits that are ideal for dipping in coffee! They come in many different kinds, such as orange and almond, dark chocolate and hazelnut, and even cranberry and vanilla!
- Cassata – a sponge cake soaked in liqueur or fruit cordial, and layered with ricotta, fruit, and sprinkled with candied orange peel.
Foodie suggestion: Get a variety of different pastries and biscuits to enjoy with a companion over a coffee. Most of the desserts listed above are from regions other than Rome, but they are readily available in the capital.
4. Gelato – Refreshing summer frozen treats
Summer in Italy would not be complete without gelato! Gelato is not your average “ice-cream” – it’s made with more milk, and churned more slowly, than traditional ice cream. Gelato is delightfully dense and creamy, and the flavours are amazing – pistachio, stracciatella, nocciola, strawberry, chocolate, and so many more! If you’re lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or vegan, there are many great non-dairy options too. Sorbetto is one great choice – essentially flavoured, smooth ice, it is completely dairy-free and comes in several fresh and genuine flavours such as lemon, strawberry, watermelon, raspberry, etc. Granita is a similar, but has a coarser texture due to the freezing process (I.e., no churning!).
Then you get zabaione, which is a dessert made from whipped egg yolks, custard, sugar and a sweet wine, or it can also be prepared as a post-dinner drink. Finally, semifreddo is a delicious semi-frozen dessert that has the texture of a mousse. On a hot summer’s day, a cold, sweet dessert will hit the spot before you enjoy a slow, romantic walk through Rome’s piazzas at night.
These are just a few great snacking and affordable meal options available in Rome – there are so many amazing and unique foods to discover! In addition to Roman specialties, you’ll find all kinds of Italian delicacies that you never even knew existed. Gourmet food is certainly high up on the bucket list of things to do in Rome, but local street food found on your Italy travel adventure is equally satisfying and worth a try.