The Eternal City may not be as costly as, say, Venice but considering the many expenses travelers have to sustain during their Roman holiday (museum entry fees, lodging, transportation, etc.) sometimes food ends up being the least priority. No need to compromise and skimp on good food to save money during your stay, here is a list of great places for eating well in Rome without breaking the bank.
Sergio’s ciabatta sandwiches stuffed with hearty Roman classics like tripe, tongue, stewed beef or meatballs are sold for €3 at his popular stall in the Testaccio Market. Great value for your money here.
A hearty slice of the universe’s best pizza bianca costs less the €1, and any other pizza by the slice costing a bit more. You can also go for a pizza al taglio sampler, plus a supplì and a few slices of porchetta for under €10, or indulge in some of the prepared food at the small cafeteria section in back. Here you can eat 2 courses for around €14.
Another great option for pizza by the slice (I like the plain “rossa” with minimal tomato sauce topping) at Forno Campo de’ Fiori. The staff is not always super-cheerful, but the quality of their products makes you ignore it. The adjacent annex sells sandwiches for around €5.
Some days I get sick of eating cucina romana, so I jump on the bus and head to Esquilino for some of the city’s best Middle Eastern food. For a plate of falafel, salad, heaps of hummus, tahini sauce, and always a courteous smile, I never spend more than €6. Grilled lamb shawarma, taboulleh and dolma are also very good (and cheap). Does take-out as well.
This inexpensive Pigneto institution serves porchetta –slow-roasted and aromatic pork – from the Castelli Romani and table wine at affordable prices. There’s also a good choice of heaped plates of pasta, cured meats, cheeses and other nibbles like olives and great bread to boot, without going over €15.
Wine bars are also a perfect solution for eating in Rome on a budget: these offer a light meal with a glass of wine for a handful of Euros. Some establishments like Panella L’Arte del Pane do a “happy hour” aperitivo deal in set hours, which on the strength of one drink, you can eat from the unlimited buffet spread.
La Barrique and Al Vino Al Vino (both in the Monti district) plus Il Goccetto near Piazza Farnese, all offer stellar wines and a wide range of moderately priced dishes. Lunch at La Barrique is about €15, dinner’s a little more expensive. A plate of caponata at Al Vino al Vino and a good glass of wine and bread go for less than €12. At Il Goccetto a glass of wine and a grazing board with cheese and charcuterie, or a slice of quiche is under €10.
Do you have a favorite budget dining spot in Rome?
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, journalist, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her show “ABCheese” is broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso. She loves guiding culturally curious, food-passionate travellers seeking experiences in Italy beyond the guidebook.