Where to Eat on a Budget in Rome
Trapizzino | © Maria Pasquale
Finding cheap eats in the Eternal City
isn’t easy, but by heading off the beaten path and following the locals it can be done. Here is a list of the best budget dining options in Rome.
Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan
Superstar pizzaiolo Stefano Callegaro’s signature street snack made its debut in his Testaccio pizza joint back in 2009 and since then has taken Rome by storm with branches popping up not only across Rome but also in far-flung destinations such as the US and Japan. The simple yet delicious Trapizzino consists of a pocket of fluffy pizza bianca stuffed with classic Italian and Roman dishes such as oxtail stew, chicken cacciatore and meatballs. A great way to taste traditional local cuisine without breaking the bank.
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
This tiny shop selling fresh pasta near the Spanish Steps does a storming trade at lunchtime, when locals line up to grab a plastic takeaway container of their simple yet satisfying dishes. The choice is limited but changes daily and the bargain price of €4 also includes unlimited water and a glass of wine. Without a doubt one of the best value food spots in a usually pricey part of town.
Da Simo Pane e Vino
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Tucked down a picturesque sidestreet a stone’s throw from Piazza Navona, Da Simo is one of the centro storico‘s best-kept secrets. The miniscule shop serves up tasty panini generously stuffed with homecooked Roman dishes starting at €4.50, which can consumed at the outside tables and washed down with a cold beer for just €1. Try the house special of sausage and grape stew or the classic Roman-style tripe in tomato sauce.
Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian
Beloved by locals, Luzzi sits in an envious position just a few blocks from the Colosseum and offers a cheap and cheerful dining option in one of the most touristy parts of town. With homecooked pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas hovering around the €5-6 mark and a litre of house wine at €4, it is easy to see why the place is always packed, especially on sunny days when the crowds spill onto the outside tables. Either make a reservation or be prepared to wait.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian
This bustling hole-in-the-wall takeaway spot in Trastevere is named for its speciality, supplì are fried rice croquettes which ooze with a rich meat and tomato sauce and a melted mozzarella heart and are one of the most filling, best value Roman snacks. However the shop also sells a wide range of fried bites and some of the best pizza al taglio (pizza sold by the slice and priced by weight) in the neighbourhood. Follow the crowd at lunchtime to be rewarded with a portion of the daily pasta, lasagna or cannelloni and don’t miss Thursday when, as is tradition in Rome, gnocchi are always on the menu.
A Testaccio institution, Da Remo has been serving up wafer-thin Roman pizzas from its wood-fired oven since 1976. The menu is limited and the decor sparse but for real local atmosphere and a great-value dinner this is the place to be. Arrive before 8pm to avoid a wait and make sure to add a few of the freshly fried appetizers such as filetti di baccalà (battered salt cod) or fiori di zucca (stuffed battered zucchini flowers) to your order.
Pizzeria, Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Just a short walk from Termini station, Pinsere is the local lunch spot of choice. Unlike the usual pizza-by-the-slice joints, here you pick a whole pinsa (a mini-pizza based on an ancient Roman concept) to enjoy on-the-go. The counter boasts a huge range of toppings utilising fresh, local ingredients from simple Margherita to more creative combinations such as radicchio and gorgonzola or ricotta and fig, all for the very reasonable price of €4-5.