The food of Italy is regional meaning that the best way to have a great meal is to order the local specialties which vary around the country according to the produce and history of the area.
Roman cuisine makes the most of the ingredients of the surrounding Lazio region. The food is simple and satisfying, with maximum flavour skilfully teased out of just a few fresh ingredients to create something magical.
Here are the top 15 Roman recipes you should taste when in Rome:
Probably the Romans’ most beloved pasta dish, the traditional Carbonara is made with eggs, guanciale (pork jowl bacon), pecorino romano cheese and black pepper. Despite such simple ingredients there are many variations but one thing the locals all agree on is that it should never be made with cream!
This hearty tomato-based pasta is also made with crunchy guanciale bacon and topped with pecorino cheese but is usually served with bucatini, a thick spaghetti with a hole running through it.
The simplest of the Roman pastas is no less delicious. Cacio e Pepe is named from its two ingredients: ‘cacio’ (pecorino romano cheese) and ‘pepe’ freshly-cracked black pepper which are gradually mixed with starchy pasta water to create a creamy, cheesy sauce. Usually it will be served with tonnarelli, a long, square-cut fresh pasta similar to spaghetti.
Supplì are the Roman verson of a fried rice ball. Arborio rice is cooked with a tomato and meat sauce and left to cool before being shaped into ovals around a piece of mozzarella. They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried.
Often eaten as an appetizer at Roman pizzerias, these battered zucchini flowers are stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy before being deep-fried until golden.
Roman pizza is thin, crispy and sometimes slightly burnt (as opposed to the thicker-based, doughier pizza found in Naples). Toppings are simple and often seasonal. Try it fresh from the wood-fired oven in one of the city’s many pizzerias.
Tradition dictates that baccalà (salt cod) is eaten on Fridays in Rome when it will usually be cooked with ‘ceci’ (chickpeas) or dipped in batter and fried.
Meaning ‘jump in the mouth’, Saltimbocca are thin cutlets of veal topped with prosciutto and sage and pan-fried with a splash of white wine.
The queen of Rome’s ‘quinto quarto’ (fifth quarter or offal) dishes, this oxtail stew is slowly cooked with tomatoes, carrot and celery until the meat falls of the bone. The sauce may also be eaten as an accompaniment to pasta or gnocchi.
Not for the faint-hearted, Roman-style tripe comes from the cow stomach lining. It is cut into thin strips and cooked until tender in a tomato sauce with pecorino cheese and wild Roman mint.
Small lamb cutlets which are marinated with herbs and quickly pan-fried. The name ‘scottadito’ means ‘finger-burning’ referring to the fact that they should be eaten with your hands.
The Romans’ typical chicken stew is cooked slowly with tomatoes and bell peppers to create a sweet, sticky sauce just begging to be mopped up with plenty of bread.
Roman artichokes hit peak season in the spring and can be found in many forms. The most common recipes are ‘alla Romana’ (Roman-style: braised until soft with garlic, parsley and mint) and ‘alla giudia’ (Jewish-style: deep-fried until the leaves become crispy and golden).
Originally a recipe of the Roman Jewish cuisine, this dessert is a pastry pie filled with sweetened ricotta cheese and sharp sour cherries.
Although not a truly historic Roman recipe no trip to Italy would be complete without tiramisu. With a name meaning ‘pick-me-up’ in Italian, the combination of coffee, sweet mascarpone and cocoa is sure to give you a lift.
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