From ancient artifacts to the new snacks on the block, the Rome street food scene has it all.
To misquote the old adage: ‘when in Rome, eat as the Romans do.’ And with street food experiencing a new popularity in the Eternal City, it’s a good place to start.
Rome is positively teeming with everything from the cliched take-away pizza slice to the modern and fancy. Here’s the low down on five of the most traditional (and not so traditional) offerings to help you make sense of Rome street food.
The supplì is the king of Roman street food. These easy to eat, deep-fried rice croquettes have been a local favorite for well over 150 years.
Similar to, but distinctive from Sicilian arancine, supplì come in various flavors. The most traditional is rice filled with ragù (meat sauce) but vegetarian options are available as well.
Supplì al telefono have a mozzarella center which stretches out like old-fashioned telephone wires when you try to take a bite out of them.
Where to get it: Award-winning chef Archagelo Dandini offers his take on this Roman classic at Supplizio, near Campo dei Fiori. For a more rustic experience, the Casa del Supplì is worth a visit. There are two branches, one near San Giovanni and the other in Trastevere.
The trapizzino is a modern marriage of traditional Roman flavors with the popular street food trend. It consists of a triangular pocket of pizza dough stuffed with various fillings that can include meatballs, melanzane alla parmigiana (baked eggplant with caciocavallo cheese), pollo alla cacciatora (chicken in tomato sauce) and tongue in salsa verde (parsley pesto).
Invented in 2008 by pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari, the trapizzino has now spread its wings and is available as far away as New York City.
Where to get it: The trapizzino is available in several locations across Rome. Trapizzino at Piazza Trilussa 46, doubles as a Trastevere wine bar. Another of our favorites is located inside the Mercato Centrale at Termini train station where a trapizzino can start or finish your visit to Rome.
3. Carciofi alla giudia
This dish, which dates back at least 500 years, used to be confined to Rome’s Jewish ghetto, but is now available all over the city. It consists of artichokes which have been flattened and then deep fried. You fight your way through the crispy outer leaves, like potato chips, to the soft, meaty center. You’ll find them on restaurant menus as starters as well as street food.
Where to get it: For the street-food version, Food Box, located in the trendy Mercato di Testaccio is our favorite. This dish is also available as a starter in any of the Kosher restaurants located in and around the Via del Portico d’Ottavia.
Pinsa is more than just the Roman name for pizza. It’s a dish that is supposed to have its origins in Ancient Rome and has characteristics very different from the Neapolitan pizza. For a start, the dough is made from a mixture of wheat, soya and rice flours. It has a 75% hydration which makes it easy to digest and is subject to a natural levitation of between 48–72 hours. Another difference is the elongated oval shape which makes pinsa visually distinct from pizza. Recently “rediscovered,” pinsa has become a very popular feature of the Rome street food scene.
Where to get it: Rome is positively littered with shops touting la vera pinsa Romana. Notable among these is Pinsa ‘mpò, located near the Vatican and perfect for a Roman lunch on the go. Domus Pinsa near the Pantheon, is a sit-down pinseria which boasts levitation of 120 hours.
Porchetta, whole roast pig stuffed with garlic, rosemary and fennel, is found all over Italy as well as on the Rome street food scene. The juicy meat and crispy crackling are served in a bun making it the most tasty Italian sandwich imaginable.
The porchetta truck is a feature of every Italian market and festival and is a real treat. Luckily, there are several places in Rome where you can get your fix every day. And if you’re a football fan, porchetta vans are always around the Stadio Olimpico when Roma and Lazio are playing.
Where to get it: The colorfully named Angrypig is a great stop before or after your visit to the Vatican Museums. On the other side of the Tiber, Il Panino Ingegnoso is a good bet for all your porchetta sandwich needs and is open late.