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To fully experience Rome, you need to (at least) try pasta alla gricia (a pork-based pasta dish), carciofo alla giudia (a Jewish-style fried artichoke) and hearty meat and entrails recipes. Here's where to go.
You either love or hate traditional Roman cuisine. First courses are famous worldwide while meat courses are the most characteristic ones and least known. But where can you taste authentic, original recipes? Traditional but also contemporary restaurants cook classics like tonnarelli cacio e pepe, rigatoni alla amatriciana as well as artichokes, pajata and vignarola salad. To find them in the Capital, you will need a tour of the city’s neighbourhoods, discovering the true cuisine. Here are five dishes not to miss.
Pasta alla gricia is a true classic, though less known in comparison to pasta carbonara. It is a carbonara without eggs and dressed with oil, lots of black pepper, guanciale and pecorino romano cheese. Spaghetti, tonnarelli or a shorter pasta noodle like rigatoni are used – the choice is pretty flexible, but don’t confuse guanciale with bacon! Trattoria da Cesare aims to seek out the best raw ingredients: only the best meat, flour and vegetables from the Roman countryside and Sabina olive oil. The pecorino romano cheese is perfectly aged for a great combination with the egg pasta, which is exclusively hand-made.
Jewish tradition is what characterises this place. It is one of the cheapest and most original restaurants in Rome; the atmosphere is very friendly and vibrant with limited space and many tables. The artichoke ‘alla Giudia’ (deep-fried, upside down, served whole and opened like a flower) and Picchiapò boiled meat (an old recipe where the meat is served with tomato sauce and onion) are always on the menu.
In the heart of the Centocelle neighbourhood, there is a small restaurant with a communal table with seating for 10 people. The chefs – a young couple – like to cook traditional dishes: fried oxtail, tripe and chicory salad. Everything is instilled with contemporary haute cuisine techniques.
A neighbourhood trattoria since 1936, led by Felice, a popular character in Testaccio. He serves old family recipes and he never changes them. Everyone knows him for his main courses, such as carbonara, but the best recipe is perhaps his pasta e fagioli – simply unforgettable. Other excellent dishes are the anchovy and pecorino cheese pasta, meatballs and saltimbocca. It’s so popular that a branch opened in Milan in 2017.
A rustic environment, open for lunch and dinner and welcoming to everyone. Since 1968, it has been the historic restaurant of the Capital par excellence. Lazio cheese, focaccia and wood oven lasagne – a true rarity! The traditional dish is roast lamb, as a spring lamb (abbacchio) or castrato.