From Da Danilo to Suppli, these are the top must-eats in Rome.
1. Da Danilo
A classic Roman pasta, this takes the pecorino Romano and fresh black pepper of the cacio e pepe but adds in guanciale (smoked pork jowl) and egg. Nothing else is added, especially not cream or peas, which means the dish is a fresher, lighter version of the comfort food you might know from back home. Try carbonara at Da Danilo, a tiny trattoria in Esquilino that has received several awards for its classic, slightly upmarket Roman cuisine. Its version comes with the smokiest, crispiest chunk of guanciale you’ve ever tasted.
2. Coda alla vaccinara
Oxtail stew may not be the first thing that jumps out on a menu to you, but this modern Roman dish is definitely worth a try. Its star ingredients are tender oxtail, pancetta, tomato sauce, celery, cloves and cinnamon, and sometimes…chocolate! Yes, bitter chocolate may be grated in in small amounts, giving the stew a sweet and sour taste that will have you craving more.
3. Roman-Style Pizza
Here, locals like it served with a crispy thin crust and baked until it’s nearly charred, though you’ll be able to find just about any style of pizza you want. You’ll also be able to find served many different ways, from rectangular pieces eaten as snacks from tiny hole in the wall joints to elegant pizzas topped with seasonal ingredients at sit-down restaurants. You can also try pizza bianca, similar to focaccia and sprinkled with salt, or pizza rossa, baked and spread with tomato sauce. Both are made of the same dough and both make delicious snacks.
4. Nonna Betta
Roman artichokes are world-famous; in fact, they’ve even been given protected-origin status (PGI, or Protected Geographical Indication) by the European Union. While you can find them steamed, stewed or thrown onto a pizza, one of their most satisfying treatments originated in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto, where they come fried to a lighter-than-air crisp. Today, you can find “Jewish-style artichokes” across Rome — but some restaurants make them far better than others. Just remember that, like other types of produce, these are seasonal. Outside of the months from February to May, the “Roman artichokes” you see on menus either have been frozen for months or are imports from elsewhere. So at that time of year, it’s best — not least of all for your taste buds — to let the artichokes be.
The name comes from an Italian take on the word “surprise” in French (spelled the same as in English but pronounced differently). Fittingly, you may be surprised at how tasty these are! Suppli are small croquettes made out of rice, mozzarella cheese, and often tomato-based ragu sauce, though the fillings may vary a bit from place to place.