Roman cuisine comes from the Italian city of Rome. It features fresh, seasonal and simply-prepared ingredients from the Roman Campagna.[1] These include peas, globe artichokes and fava beans, shellfish, milk-fed lamb and goat, and cheeses such as pecorino romano and ricotta.[2] Olive oil is used mostly to dress raw vegetables, while strutto (pork lard) and fat from prosciutto are preferred for frying.[1] The most popular sweets in Rome are small individual pastries called pasticcini, gelato ("ice cream") and handmade chocolates and candies.[3] Special dishes are often reserved for different days of the week; for example, gnocchi is eaten on Thursdays, baccalà (salted cod) on Fridays, and trippa on Saturdays.


Classic Roman spaghetti alla carbonara

Rome's food has evolved through centuries and periods of social, cultural, and political changes. Rome became a major gastronomical center during the ancient age. Ancient Roman cuisine was mainly based on cereals, cheeses, legumes and fruit.[4] Subsequently, the empire's enormous expansion exposed Romans to many new, provincial culinary habits and cooking techniques. In the beginning, the differences between social classes were not very great, but disparities developed with the empire's growth. Later, during the Italian Renaissance, Rome became well known as a center of high-cuisine, since some of the best chefs of the time worked for the popes. An example of this could be Bartolomeo Scappi, who was a chef working for Pius IV in the Vatican kitchen, reaching fame with his cookbook Opera dell'arte del cucinare, published in 1570. Here he lists approximately 1000 recipes of Renaissance cuisine and describes cooking techniques and tools, giving the first known picture of a fork.[5] Roman and all Italian cuisine were transformationally influenced by the introduction of new world crops by the Spanish, especially the tomato.

Traditional cucina romana

The Testaccio rione, Rome's trade and slaughterhouse area, is the place where Rome's most original and traditional foods can still be found. The area was often known as the "belly" or "slaughterhouse" of Rome, and was inhabited by butchers, or vaccinari.[6] The most common or ancient Roman cuisine included the "fifth quarter".[6] Popular foods include pig's trotters, brain, and the genitals of other animals,[6] which were often carefully cooked and richly spiced with different savouries, spices and herbs. The old-fashioned coda alla vaccinara (oxtail cooked in the way of butchers)[6] is still one of the city's most popular meals and is part of most of Rome's restaurants' menus. Lamb is also a very popular part of Roman cuisine, and is often roasted with spices and herbs.[6] There is a considerable Jewish influence in Roman cuisine, since many Jews lived in the city, and some of the traditional meals of the ghetto date back over 400 years. Such include the carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes), Jewish courgettes and the pizza dolce di Beridde.

Pasta in Rome

Pasta is one important element of Roman cuisine. Famous Roman pasta dishes include cacio e pepe (cheese and black pepper), gricia (a sauce made with guanciale and hard cheese, typically pecorino romano), carbonara (like gricia but with the addition of egg), and amatriciana (like gricia but with the addition of tomato). Alfredo (invented in Rome by the chef of restaurant Alfredo alla Scrofa) is famous abroad, but not considered traditional and mostly unheard of in Rome.

There used to be a pasta museum in Rome called the Museo Nazionale della Paste Alimentari (the National Museum of Pasta),[6] but now there is a hotel there. Rome's most common pasta shape is spaghetti, but there are many other forms.[6]


The city is known as a center of white wine. Frascati and Castelli Romani have been called the best ones in the city.[7]


There are also many desserts and sweets in Roman cuisine, many of which are made with ricotta cheese. Typical of Rome is the grattachecca, a type of shaved ice.[6]


Name Image Description
Abbacchio alla romana floured lamb chops cooked in garlic, olive oil and chopped ham. Cooking is completed with rosemary, vinegar, salt and pepper. It is usually served with roasted potatoes. At the end of cooking the abbacchio in the oven, a sauce based on anchovies and aromatic herbs is added.[8]
Bucatini all'amatriciana pasta dish with tomato sauce, guanciale, and grated pecorino romano[9]
Bruschetta a popular antipasto or appetizer in central Italy. It comes from the Romanesco word 'bread which is lightly burnt' and it's typically rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and tomatoes.
Cacio e pepe pasta dish with a sauce made with black pepper and grated pecorino romano
Carciofi alla romana whole artichokes filled with minced garlic and parsley and cooked in olive oil[10]
Carciofi alla giudia (Jewish-style artichokes) whole artichokes deep-fried in olive oil[10]
Coda alla vaccinara oxtail stew, either cooked with tomato sauce, bitter chocolate, celery, clove, white wine, lard and onions, or with tomato sauce, celery, dark cocoa, pine nuts and raisins
Coppiette ("couples") stripes of dried meat (pork or horse), usually spicy
Crostata di ricotta tart made with ricotta, sometimes flavored with lemons (or oranges) and Marsala wine[6]
Fiori di zucca zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella and anchovies, battered and deep-fried
Gnocchi alla romana oven-baked semolina gnocchi
Maritozzi a split brioche roll filled with cream
Pasta alla gricia pasta dish with a sauce made with guanciale, black pepper and grated pecorino romano
Penne all'arrabbiata pasta dish with a sauce made from garlic, tomatoes and dried red chili peppers, cooked in olive oil
Rigatoni con la pajata pasta dish with a sauce made with ringed intestines of a milk-fed veal and pecorino romano[11]
Saltimbocca alla romana Roman-style veal with prosciutto crudo, sage, white wine, butter and flour. Saltimbocca is a contraction of "salta in bocca", which literally means 'jump in the mouth'.[12]
Scaloppine alla romana veal sautéed with fresh baby artichokes
Spaghetti alla carbonara pasta dish with a sauce made with egg yolks, guanciale, black pepper and grated pecorino romano
Supplì fried rice croquettes, either filled with beef ragout and mozzarella, or chicken giblets, mincemeat and provatura
Trippa alla romana tripe cooked with tomato sauce, pennyroyal, chilli pepper, cloves, laurel, celery, carrots and onions and topped with pecorino romano[13]

See also

Media related to Cuisine of Rome at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b Boni (1930), pg. 13.
  2. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 14
  3. ^ Eats, Serious. "Gina DePalma's Guide To Rome Sweets". Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Cucina Antica Roma E Ricette Romane" (in Italian). Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  5. ^ Rolland, Jacques (2006). The food encyclopedia. Toronto: Robert Rose. p. 273. ISBN 0-7788-0150-0. OCLC 70176309.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Eyewitness Travel (2006), pg. 312 - 313
  7. ^ Eyewitness Travel (2006), pg. 314 - 315
  8. ^ "Abbacchio alla romana" (in Italian). Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  9. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 44.
  10. ^ a b Boni (1930), pg. 156.
  11. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 150.
  12. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 96.
  13. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 94.