Food Walk in Historic Rome (Self Guided), Rome

Whether it’s a long lunch or a stop-off for an ice cream on an evening stroll, eating in Rome is a very social activity. Culinary traditions run deep in Rome, and it may well be one of Italy’s most pleasurable cities in which to eat. Most restaurants exclusively serve Italian or Roman cuisine – either traditional or “with a touch of creativity” – with more and more choosing organic food made with freshly selected ingredients. Deli shops, prosciutterias, pizzerias, fornos (bakeries) and caffès are also very popular and offer a great alternative to a restaurant meal. On this self-guided walk, you'll get to explore some of the most treasured eating and drinking places in the city's historical center, most of which have developed a cult following throughout Rome, Italy, and beyond.

Getting to Sight #1. The first tour stop (Campo de' Fiori Market) is a short walk from Rrevi Fountain or can be reached by Bus: 30, 64, 87; Train: FL3, FL5; Metro: A, B; Tram: 8
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Food Walk in Historic Rome Map

Guide Name: Food Walk in Historic Rome
Guide Location: Italy » Rome (See other walking tours in Rome)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 12
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Campo de' Fiori Market
  • Forno Campo de Fiori
  • Antica Norcineria Viola
  • Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina
  • Antico Forno Rascioli
  • Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè
  • Angelo Feroci
  • Alfredo alla Scrofa
  • Giolitti
  • Sacro e Profano 11
  • Prosciutteria Cantina dei Papi Trevi
  • Gelato di San Crispino
1
Campo de' Fiori Market

1) Campo de' Fiori Market

In the morning and noon hours, head to one of the most beautiful and colorful open-air markets in Rome – the main attraction of the Campo de' Fiori area. The market is primarily for fresh fruit and vegetables, but you will also find other foods such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, vegetable pâté (pesto, artichoke, etc.), liquors, spices, cheeses, flowers, souvenirs, and flea-market-type things. Some vendors sell small products you can take home, and also give free samples, so this can be a pleasant way to try local specialties. With so much fresh fruit, some will happily make most of it into a juice for you – try the pomegranate for some intense goodness!

There also are many great restaurants and cafés laying around, with a view on the market, so you can try some handmade pizza or some carbonara if you're peckish. In the late afternoon and evening, the square turns into terraces for the restaurants and cafés, gradually becoming a nightlife hotspot with lots of street artists and performers who entertain the crowds.

Tip:
Please follow European tradition and don't touch the produce unless vendors tell you to "pick". They're happy to give advice and share recipes but, as anywhere in Rome, don't really bargain much (unless you're buying more than one of somethings at a time).

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am–3pm
2
Forno Campo de Fiori

2) Forno Campo de Fiori

The pizza and baked goods at this small bakery are outstanding. You walk in the door (be prepared for a line up) and the pizza is on your right. Several different toppings (potatoes, mushrooms, shredded zucchini, etc) and you get to choose the size of your slice, which is then chopped off, wrapped in paper, weighed and handed to you with a receipt (to be taken to the register – cash only).
Their “pizza bianca” – which is a flatbread made with a no-knead dough, very soft and seasoned with sea salt and olive oil – has reached legendary status, the secret to its extraordinary success apparently lying in the long fermentation process. A similar thin-crusted type, but smeared with red tomato sauce is called “pizza rossa”. They both come out very fast late morning and at lunchtime, and are always amazingly crispy fresh. Try them – you will lick your fingers. A big square stuck in your bag is the perfect packed lunch (ask for napkins at the food counter), and is good all day long – but you could also eat it while perching yourself on the fountain out front and watching the busyness of the outdoor market.

They use the same delicious dough for their tasty (and equally inexpensive) Mortadella sandwiches, or you could opt for other freshly-baked snacks such as cakes and biscuits (get a mix of the almond and hazelnut biscotti!).

If you're not in the mood for pasta or a sit-down lunch, Forno Campo de' Fiori comes highly recommended. You will see many local working people coming to this forno as well, which is always a good sign!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 7:30am–2:30pm / 4:45–8pm
3
Antica Norcineria Viola

3) Antica Norcineria Viola

This historic shop (since 1890) needs to be a stop for every lover of meat when visiting Rome. It's a great place for all things involving cured meats – especially pork. All the prosciutti, salami and guanciale you want, in any shape and size, and from all over Italy, including up north. Service is very personal, with staff speaking enough English to understand you.

The products are very high-quality, but usually, they’ll have a little tasting plate for visitors to try as many samples as they like before buying the desired amount. A suggestion, therefore, would be to try new items rather than sticking to standard salami. Examples: the dark sausages made with pork liver that are a masterpiece of Roman cuisine (to be spread as they are on bread, no cooking), the soft "ciauscolo" salami (also to be spread with no cooking), or the "coppa" (a cold cut made with mixed pork meats and salted jelly).

You can buy "in bulk" or ask to have your purchase sliced to your order. They can also seal the products under vacuum for transportation... or you could just buy bread from a nearby store and prepare some tasty sandwiches!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am–10pm; Sun: 10am–10pm
4
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina

4) Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina

There are plenty of reasonable restaurants in the tourist hub that is Rome, but this family-run deli-cum-restaurant in the Campo di Fiori neighborhood receives rave reviews for its authentic produce, perfectly executed classic dishes (such as the Sicilian “pasta con le sarde” or the crunchy, mouth-watering Roman carbonara), and more inventive food combinations which feature a few gourmet ingredients sourced from outside Italy.

When you get inside, you're confronted with a big counter of cured meats and everything you'd need for the greatest antipasto (appetizer) of your life. In the midst of all this are some tables, closely placed, with better lighting than in the typical trattoria. Booking a table here will keep you close to the action and the atmosphere, but there are other rooms as well, including the cellar which is a good choice for a bit more privacy and a cooler, quieter environment, surrounded with wines, whiskeys, and gins.

Order the selection of meats and antipasti for starters and then the pasta or, really, anything else on the menu. There are many options to chose from and they're all great, but ask for help with the wine, because the waiters will bring you a selection to try, and you will drink things you've never heard of (but which are fantastic).

The place is open until midnight six nights a week, and even then they're turning people away as they pull the doors closed. If you're after something different from the usual restaurant, if you're after an adventure and an education, book early (online is easy), sit down near the counter and congratulate yourself on a great choice.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 12:30–4pm / 7pm–12am
5
Antico Forno Rascioli

5) Antico Forno Rascioli

Part of the Roscioli family’s food empire, this bakery churns out amazing baked goods for 13 hours a day, the smell of freshly baked bread filling via dei Chiavari from early morning. This is the place to get traditional breakfast pastries at the start of the day, or the best slices of “pizza rossa” – disputed only with the friendly competition from nearby Forno Campo de' Fiori – at any other time.

The pizza here is classic Roman style, which means it has a very crispy and thin crust that's sparsely topped with a pinch of cheese, crushed ripe tomatoes, and a dollop of olive oil. The various toppings are only available during traditional lunch hours; in the evenings, you can only get plain crust topped with tomatoes (delicious, yes, but it may disappoint traditional pizza lovers).

The lines here form quickly, especially during popular mealtimes, and ordering then is not for the faint of heart as most Italians don't seem to respect the idea of an orderly queue. Elbow up to the bar and order at the pizza counter (but make sure you know what you want or get ready for a gruff reception). After they weigh it and give you a receipt, take the receipt to the register, pay, then take the paid receipt back to the pizza counter to collect your food. They will wrap your slices in paper for easy carryout, as seating is very limited.

The bakers also sell “casareccio” (home-style bread made with white flour), flavorsome “pane di Lariano” and robust “pane di segale bio” (organic rye bread), as well as fresh sandwiches in the smaller alcove on the left side of the bakery.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 7am–8pm; Sun: 8:30am–7pm
6
Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè

6) Sant’ Eustachio Il Caffè

The recipe for success at this celebrated espresso bar seems to lie in the water, coming from a 2,000-year-old aqueduct, and in the wood-roasted Sant’Eustachio coffee blends. Opened in 1938, it definitely remains a rendezvous for Romans even today, where they are sure to drink a good coffee in a place that still reminds of its heyday when it was frequently in newspapers, even worldwide.

As non-flashy as it is, this place thus usually gets crowded, so you will have to wait in line, but the line usually moves quickly and the service is quite fast. Like most caffès in Italy, you order at the register, turn in your receipt (if it's busy, try placing your receipt on the counter with a coin tip on top) and then enjoy your coffee and pastry while standing at the counter (the recommended and traditional way) or sit at a table (though these fill up and cost an extra fee).

Any type of coffee creation you get here will be good, from the traditional cappuccino and shots of espresso to the “gran caffè” (which sort of combines the best of both) or the to-die-for “granita” (frozen coffee interlaced with layers of whipped cream) and “monachella” (espresso, coffee and cream).

Tip:
Sugar is added to the coffee beforehand so make sure that you ask for “senza zucchero” (no sugar) before ordering if you don’t want any.
Each espresso shot is pulled behind a metal partition so the secret to the extra-thick, flavorful “crema” remains a mystery.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am–12am
7
Angelo Feroci

7) Angelo Feroci

An excellent butcher shop in the centre of Rome (between the Pantheon and the Parliament) with a good selection of gourmet food as well. Treasured since 1885, it's on the expensive side, but that's because it serves not merely food, but culinary art.

Great display and great quality; well presented very nice cuts (quite unusual in Rome), and a huge variety of ready-made portions, which the server will even advise on how to reheat. Among these, many Roman specialties such as the Polpette (meatballs) alla Romana, or the Polpettone (the really big version of a meatball!) stuffed with truffles, chestnuts, artichokes, ham and mozzarella, apples and prunes... The vegetarian spinach burgers are a delight, as are the many “antipasti” (appetizers), such as broccoli’ pie, grilled eggplants or zucchini, masterfully stuffed with prosciutto, olives, mozzarella, etc. Apparently, the only things missing here are the desserts!

Bottom line, if you are looking for some good food for a picnic or takeaway lunch, this is a good place to get it. Grab your produce at the small but high-quality market around the corner (Piazza delle Coppelle) and you're all set for a great meal!

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed, Fri: 6am–1:30pm / 5–8pm; Thu, Sat: 6am–1:30pm
8
Alfredo alla Scrofa

8) Alfredo alla Scrofa

If you’re a fan of homemade Italian pasta, you simply must dine at Alfredo alla Scrofa in the heart of Rome’s historical center. Fettuccine Alfredo is their hundred-years-old signature dish, loved and celebrated all over the world; an historical, artisanal and unique technique that employs high-quality raw materials like authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano (dating back to the Middle Ages) and fine butter, along with the daily-prepared pasta (so thin that it cooks in less than 30 seconds). While seated, it's nice to see the waiter dramatically prepare the dish in front of you.

Choose between lunch, a full dinner, or a pasta cooking class with lunch or dinner, and as you dine, check out the photos of other celebrities who dined in this world-famous restaurant: Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Curtis, Ava Gardner, Walter Chiari, Salvador Dalì, and many more.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 12:30–3pm / 6–11pm
9
Giolitti

9) Giolitti

Opened over a century ago, the Giolitti shop on a side of Piazza di Monte Citorio still retains its historic character and charming features. It's a nice little café where you can eat breakfast, drink coffee, and – particularly recommended – sign up for a gelato experience! Giolitti is certainly one of the most popular gelaterias in Rome, with many holidaying visitors stopping by for a quick fix – as Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn did, too, in the film “Roman Holiday”.

They have more than a hundred different flavors of ice cream served, from the traditional to the exotic, alongside other refreshing treats like ice cream stuffed biscuits and decadent sundaes like the “coppa giolitti” with chocolate, cream, zabaglione, whipped cream and hazelnut. It's a great place for the lactose-intolerant, too, as the sorbetto favors are numerous.

They still observe strict, traditional Italian bar etiquette here. Pay first at the register by the door, choosing between cup or cone (as tempting as the latter may be, a cup is always easier to manage, especially when it’s hot outside); then take the receipt, make your way to the back and stand in line to get served. The goal: make eye contact with the gelato server. Use your maneuvering time to decide what flavor you want, then loudly place your order immediately following eye contact. You can also ask for the gelato to be “con panna” which will get you your favorite flavor topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream.

If all that seems intimidating, you can ask to be seated on the other side. Sure enough, you'll pay a tiny up-charge, but look at those extra few euros as an investment in serenity, as you will get served and finished in the same time you could wait in line and fight the crowd at the serving bar. Plus, you get free WiFi, so there's that! Enjoy!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am–1am
10
Sacro e Profano 11

10) Sacro e Profano 11

Few steps from the Trevi Fountain, Sacro e Profano 11 boasts one of the most interesting interiors, so even if just for an Aperol Spritz, try to get a table inside. Tastefully furnished and fully air-conditioned, the two-level building is an old church (now deconsecrated) with frescoes of angels still adorning the walls and even an antique organ (long out of use) upstairs.

Their specialty is Calabrese cuisine (if nothing else, ask the server to explain that to you) along with a selection of southern Italian wine, all of this served at honest prices. The menu is full of refreshing Mediterranean fares of seafood and pasta, such as Benedetto Cavalieri spaghetti with carpet-shells, grilled prawns, or the catch of the day baked in a crust of zucchini with mushrooms.

As for their special pizza with multiple ingredients, it is prepared directly in front of the guests, so you can watch how it is made before it goes in the wood-fired oven. Instantly, you will notice that simplicity and quality of the ingredients are the main secrets here.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11:30am–11:30pm
11
Prosciutteria Cantina dei Papi Trevi

11) Prosciutteria Cantina dei Papi Trevi

There are two notable “prosciutteria” restaurants in Rome – Trastevere and Trevi. Gourmet food is a synonym to Italy and these establishments are perfect for authentic local meat and cheese, or the classic “lasagna”. The selection of wines is superior, too – not to mention the friendliness of the staff, the willingness to please, the nice music, cozy environment, and good prices.

All in all, a quaint, rustic, seat-yourself sort of deli place with the quality of a higher-end restaurant. If you can get the table out the front, it's a great daytime spot for people watching and snacking in the shade.

Tip:
Order a charcuterie wood board, which comes at a great price and is very filling. The boards are one-of-a-kind each time you order, but always with quality meats and cheeses, plus perfectly ripe fruits! It is possible to personalize the board you get, although if you let the staff decide they choose pretty well.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am–11:30pm
12
Gelato di San Crispino

12) Gelato di San Crispino

One of the top ice cream shops in Rome, Gelato di San Crispino offers a wide range of seasonal and changing flavors. The shopkeeper takes pride in the purity of his product, which uses high-quality ingredients without the use of artificial preservatives, chemical emulsifiers and prepared or frozen foods. Talk to the people behind the counter and you will also learn that though the gelato is handmade, each closed individual container is kept at the perfect temperature depending on whether it is fruit or spices and chocolate. Ask nicely, and they will let you try some different (unusual) flavors.

The shop is located a few blocks from the famous Trevi Fountain, so it is well worth stopping by on your visit there as service is quick. For some, the shop's inclusion in the 2010 Hollywood movie “Eat, Pray, Love” (starring Julia Roberts) is an added draw.

Tip:
They have quite a selection of gelatos so don't feel rushed in picking a flavor. Try also the many sorbets, such as the grapefruit one which has just the right mix between sweetness and tanginess.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 11am–12:30am

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