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Visiting Rome but don’t want to break the bank? Then we have the guide for you. This article will guide you through all the best cheap eats in Rome so that you can dine like royalty without being afraid to check your account balance afterwards.
This is a guest post by the wonderful Ciara McNally. Ciara is an Irish primary school teacher and the voice behind My Suitcase Diaries. She is a pro at making the most of a teacher’s salary and school holidays, showing you what you can really do with your time and money when both are limited. Ciara is a fan of city breaks, foodie trails, splashes of sunshine and unbelievable views. Originally started as a way for Ciara to record her travels, her blog has grown into a helpful and informative resource for like-minded travel lovers.
Budget Friendly Places to Eat in Rome
La Cittá Eterna (AKA – Rome) is full of personality all year round. The immersive history from Rome’s empirical past, the delicious dishes and relaxed café lifestyle stands in stark contrast with the crazy traffic, beeping cars and mopeds whizzing past.
When you’re visiting somewhere as magical as Rome you want to make the most of your time, right? And I don’t know about you but EATING is at the top of my list of things to do whenever I’m in Italy.
The Mediterranean love of delicious, fresh fruit, vegetables and locally-produced ingredients means food is a celebrated element of the day. Eating in Rome is a ritual to be savoured. The last thing you want is to waste time eating in over-priced, tasteless tourist traps.
So, of course, I went and found all the BEST, tastiest and cheapest places for you to eat/drink so that you would never get caught out. It was arduous research but I did it all for you. You’re welcome! I’ve got pizza, pasta, dinner, bars and gelato spots for you so let’s dig in. These are some of the best and cheapest places to eat in Rome.
Gelato, the Italian word for ice cream, is bound to be on your taste list so here’s a hint – avoid brightly coloured ice cream and neon store signs (like Blue Ice) and you’ll be on the right track. A two flavour mini tub (coppetta) costs between €2-3 depending on the gelateria.
I’d highly recommend the established, Giolitti on via Uffici del Vicario, which does one of my favourites; champagne sorbet. It’s open since 1900 so they certainly know what they are doing. It is tucked away along a side street in the maze that is Camp Marzio.
Remember to pay for your cup (coppetta) or cone (cono) first and then queue up at the counter to ask for your ice cream.
They do a fig and meringue combo that is utterly delish. Their flavours are kept in metal coolers, covered to prevent sunlight tampering with the flavours. Each container has its own temperature controller to ensure the flavours are kept at optimal freshness.
What they may lack in abundant flavours they more than make up for in taste and quality.
If you find yourself in the Trastevere neighbourhood do not miss Fatamorgana. They have sprung up in a few locations around the city now and thank goodness because their flavours are so fun and unique that you won’t want to be too far from one for refills.
Their tobacco chocolate was featured in the New York Times as a must-try and while it’s not my favourite it is certainly worth checking out.
Grabbing an ‘on the go’ snack or something light to picnic on is always a good idea when exploring Rome. Pop into Forno Campo de’ Fiori and order a pizza bianca or rossa to go (or “per portar via” as they say in Italian).
Make a sandwich of your perfect pizza slice, stock up on a few handmade biscotti and munch your way around the city. After all, there is so much to see in this beautiful city. Sure you’ll have all that delicious food walked off in no time.
So it might be worth mentioning that Roman pizza is the best pizza. Period. The thin, crispy base outranks the deep dough of a Neapolitan pizza every time.
Ai Marmi is a great bet for groups. There are no frills and you might need to wait for a table, your waiter may be grumpy but the food is good and not pricey. Make sure to order the fiori di zucca (fried courgette/zucchini flower) and house wine for the table and dig in.
If you find yourself near the Repubblica metro stop take a stroll down to Pinsere, on Via Flavia, and let me know whether you agree with me that this little pizzeria is an incredible find. By far, this is one of my favourite spots for cheap eats in Rome.
In summer I order the fig and ricotta with walnut and honey pizza and I am not joking when I say it’s the highlight of my trips back to Rome. I literally travel miles for this pizza. The jovial staff and personal sized mini pizzas make for a fun pit stop.
Rome also does pizza slices or pizza a taglio and these vary in price depending on weight. It’s a thicker crust, still crispy but perfect for take away and best enjoyed piping hot from the oven.
The toppings are nothing like you’d get at home in Domino’s. You’ll find zucchini flower pizza and potato pizza, give them a try, they’re DELICIOUS!
If you are in the Prati district near the Cipro metro stop check out Pizzarium on via della Meloria for more flavours . It’s great for veggies too!
Sigh, I wish we had the weather for outdoor, aperitivo culture in Ireland. Simply explained, aperitivo is where you pay for your drink between 4-7pm and the bar brings out snacks for you to nibble on.
Some wine bars offer fancier snacks like bruschetta, pizza, cheese and meat platters and some, like Freni e Frizioni, put on a full vegetarian buffet with pastas, salads, breads and fruits. It’s basically a meal for the price of a drink.
Choose your aperitivo location well and you will be handsomely rewarded, in snacks. Passaguai in Prati near the Vatican is a great little wine bar that offers delicious aperitivo plates of bruschetta, prosciutto and cheese and it’s a great spot to chill out after an interesting but no doubt hectic tour of St Peter’s.
When you’re in the Trastevere neightbourhood make a reservation at Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 on Via dei Vascellari, 29 for dinner (open from 7:30pm but not on Sundays).
This traditional Roman eatery is wildly popular for the high quality and simple nature of the dishes served. Expect a wait even if you’ve booked because this place is always jammed.
Make sure to order the panzanella con burrata (a veggie side of soaked stale bread with tomatoes and basil layered on creamy burrata cheese) and the pasta al sugo di coda (rich, oxtail sauce over rogatoni pasta).
As you’re strolling down towards the train station in Trastevere you’ll pass Hosteria Bruciapadelle. Order the caponata (an aubergine/eggplant dish) and the amatriciana and wallow in the deliciousness. It is an unassuming location with outside tables near Piazza Ippolito Nievo. If you want to sit outside make a reservation as it fills up with locals which is always a great sign.
Perhaps you’ve had enough of pasta and pizza and you’re afraid to say anything lest you be harshly judged. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Big Star in Trastevere serves burgers and curries and great craft beers so you can take a reasonably priced pasta break , if you need to.
Not over on the Trastevere side of the city? Not to worry, have a look at Mamá RistoBistrot near the Vatican and what they lack in size they make up for in simple, scrumptious dishes. I used to bring family there all the time when they came to visit.
Well, who says Rome on a budget can’t be absolutely delicious. Rome has so many fantastic eateries and neighborhoods to eat in that it would take a lifetime to try them all. Hopefully these few starters will help kick off your Rome visit to a good start. Buon appetite.
For more destination ideas and tips check out mysuitcasediaries.org.