I’m not a professional food critic by any stretch of the imagination but even as a student abroad I refuse to believe that I have to sacrifice flavor, quantity, and quality for price. In my travels so far I’ve found Rome to be one of the most affordable cities in terms of finding filling and delicious meals for just a few euros. So without further ado, I present five eateries where you can always find a fresh, home-cooked meal without paying an arm and a leg. Note: These locations are in order of ascending prices, with final cost based on what I ordered that day.
Pastificio Guerra: €4
While you’re shopping the bustling streets of via del Corso, via Condotti and via della Croce (which can work up quite a hunger), stop by Pastificio Guerra where you can find fresh pasta prepared daily. Whether you’re popping in for lunch or for dinner, for just 4€ you can choose between two savory pasta dishes and feast like a Roman god. At lunchtime this spot is crowded with locals looking for a quick eat and will often take their pasta on the go. When in Rome!
Il Pastaio di Roma: €4.50
Located across the river from the Castel Sant’Angelo, il Pastaio di Roma sells pasta so fresh that they make it right in front of you! While you sit and wait for your order to come up, you can actually watch the chefs in the back make, boil and prepare your lunch right before serving it to you: a dramatic contrast to the hidden kitchens and pre-packaged nightmares of American fast food chains. As a regular, the shop’s owner and chefs don’t shy away when it comes to boasting about the freshness of their product and their wide selection of pasta dishes, salads and desserts. For under 10€ you can fill up with a gracious serving of your favorite pasta, a salad and a drink (plus there’s a student discount!).
If you’re tired of spaghetti but still crave an Italian experience, LikeAt is one of my personal favorites in all of Rome. Priced between €4 and €6, LikeAt prepares some of the biggest and baddest panini in the game. But apart from their locally sourced bread, meat and vegetables (they’re brought in daily), the men working there are quirky, charismatic, and completely committed to finding your one true match in panini heaven. Pro-tip: ask for the special, it’s usually a wonderfully bizarre combination of flavors all under one bun, like the fried chicken, scrambled egg and bacon special. Find them on corso Vittorio Emanuele II near the ponte Vittorio Emanuele II bridge.
Antico Forno Roscioli : €6.95
Much like panini and pasta, pizzas are easy to make and hard to mess up, which is why most of these small places only focus on perfecting one specialty (not to mention the ease of access to local, fresh ingredients from the Italian countryside) and can sell them for very little. At Roscioli, you can try a slice of their famous pizza bianca for €1 or, if you’re feeling hungry, you can go for one of their specialty types like their pesto and burrata pizza, which will cost you based on weight.
This last restaurant is for those days you want a nice lunch or dinner but remember you spent all your money on a weekend trip to Naples. Pianostrada, located in the always vibrant Trastevere neighborhood, offers a wide selection of first and second courses all made to order in their exposed kitchen. Whether you’re on the go or on a date, the food here is fast, fresh and flavorful, the perfect meal trifecta.
Who says traveling has to be expensive? At least as far as Rome is concerned, I find comfort in knowing I can eat for a whole day with only €15 in my pocket and that includes a necessary dessert break for gelato.
As a student of Art History and Chemistry at Williams College in Massachusetts, Veronica Veliz’s natural curiosity has led her across the globe, specifically, to Rome. Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Veronica’s Latina heritage has inspired her passion for all things food, music, and art. Her hobbies include travelling, dancing and binge-watching Netflix.