/Budget Dining in Rome, 2017 Edition

Budget Dining in Rome, 2017 Edition

UPDATED FOR LATE 2017: In the past week I have gotten quite a few emails from travelers and abroad students inquiring about budget dining in Rome, so I thought now would be a good time to share some tips. My previous posts on the subject are way outdated, so here is a brand new list of places where you can eat very good food without breaking the bank (and don’t miss this post about sightseeing on the cheap):

Bakeries and Takeaway Joints

Mordi e Vai at Box 15 in the Testaccio Market has become an institution since it opened 5 years ago. Sergio Esposito sells incredible brisket, pajata, tripe, and kidney sandwiches there–vegans rejoice! The braised artichoke is ace, too–all for €5 or less. There’s a second location in San Giovanni.

Forno Campo de’ Fiori: This legendary bakery serves some of the best pizza bianca in town (their other pizzas aren’t quite as satisfying). Sandwiches are served in the adjacent annex for around €4.

Antico Forno Roscioli: A hearty slice of some of Rome’s best pizza bianca costs less the €1, while pizza by the slice costs quite a bit more. Still, you can try a few types of pizza for under €5, or grab some of prepared food like pasta and roasted meat at the back. Prices vary, but you can eat a couple of courses for around €12.

Pizzarium: Rome’s best pizza by the slice isn’t always cheap—I once spent €40 on lunch–but if you stick to pizzas with simple toppings like potato and mozzarella or plain tomato, you can eat here for €5 or less. Just let the person serving you know that you don’t want to spend a lot, give an amount, and they will work with you.

Panificio Bonci: I visit daily for pastries, cookies, or pizza con la mortazza (a sandwich made of flatbread and bologna). The bakery also sells roasted chicken (one of my top bites in town!) to go. It’s magic.

Mercato Centrale: There are more than 15 stalls in this food hall in Termini Station but for the best food focus on Bonci’s Bakery and Trapizzino at opposing ends of the complex.

Janta Fast Food: This Indian cafeteria and takeaway spot (formerly Kabir Fast Food) has been serving tasty curries, stews, and many vegetarian/vegan/gluten free dishes in a spartan dining room just off Piazza Vittorio since 1996. Start with fried vegetable samosas or pakoras and finish with one of the tooth-achingly sweet desserts, such as ras gulla or gulab jamun.

C’e’ Pasta…e Pasta is a cafeteria near the Trastevere Station serving kosher Roman Jewish classics like concia and pezzetti fritti. As the name implies, there is also lots of pasta.

Trapizzino: This growing fast food chain got its start in Testaccio and has now expanded to several locations including Ponte Milvio, Mercato Centrale, and Prati. The name trapizzino is a play on words, combining tramezzino (a triangular sandwich served in cafes) and pizza. Unlike the calzone or calzoncino, the bread for a trapizzino is baked separately, then stuffed with the requested filling to order. The fillings are mainly rooted in the Roman classics, but the concept takes cues from other Italian cities where street food culture is strong. They are priced around €4.

Forno Pietro Roscioli: Not to be confused with Antico Forno Roscioli, Pietro Roscioli’s bakery just off Piazza Vittorio sells sweet and savory baked goods while also serving as a tavola calda (cafeteria) with prepared dishes for dining in or taking away. Among the sweets, the brutti ma buoni, and tozzetti are highlights, whereas the pizza bianca (Roman flatbread) is best filled with thin slices of mortazza (mortadella). The vegetable dishes at the tavola calda are a good budget option and offer a break from all the carbs.

Wine Bars and Pubs

Be.Re.: For under €10 you can get a craft beer and a Trapizzino at this excellent pub in Prati. It’s a great place to stop for a snack en route to the Vatican Museums a mere 5 minute walk away.

Open Baladin in central Rome is great for a beer and a plate of potato croquettes (€5 each). Get the cacio e pepe flavored croquettes, please.

Restaurants

Mesob in Pigneto/Prenestino is one of the city’s best restaurants. Eat spectacular and authentic Ethiopian cuisine here for around €12 a head.

It’s tough to eat a whole meal (antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, and dolce) for under €40 anywhere in town these days. And frankly I would be very suspicious of what kind of ingredients are going into such a cheap meal. However, it’s unusual for Romans to go out for such blow-out feasts these days. Unless it’s a special occasion, locals pick 2 to 3 of the aforementioned courses and you can, too, which means you can eat awesome meals at Tavernaccia da Bruno, Cesare al Casaletto, and other places for €30 or less per person and still have an excellent, affordable meal. Just be respectful of the fact that ordering just an antipasto or just a pasta is rude, so if you really want to stay lean without insulting the proprietor, order a primo or secondo and a vegetable side dish at the very least.

Pizzerias

I have a whole guide from the sadly defunct Lucky Peach, which I posted here. You can eat excellent pizza at any of the places listed for under €20 including beverages. It’s under €10 for a pizza and a beer at Pizzeria Ostiense and Da Remo.

Markets

You can save money shopping at markets (as opposed to supermarkets). Check out Piazza San Cosimato, Mercato Esquilino, and Mercato di Testaccio, Mercato Trionfale, and the other 100 plus markets in town.

Gelato

Rome has the world’s best gelato (though not in any of the places your guide books tell you about!). My favorites are Al Settimo Gelo, Gelateria dei Gracchi, Il Gelato di Claudio Torce’, Gelateria Fatamorgana, Fior di Luna, Gelateria del Teatro, and Gelateria Gori and all serve two scoops of all-natural gelato for €2.50 or less.

2017-09-24T12:58:11+00:00 September 24th, 2017|Categories: Food & Wine, Restaurants, Rome & Lazio, Rome on a Budget|36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. CheezyK September 16, 2011 at 1:56 am - Reply

    Fantastic, thank you! I have your ap in my iPad and many posts, including this one now, starred in Reader. I just wish I was in Rome for long enough to justify all of the information I have gathered on eating there! 🙂

  2. […] read the new post here.)Over the past six months or so, restaurants in Rome have been competing for the budget conscious […]

  3. Eating on a Budget in Rome | Parla Food September 16, 2011 at 1:27 am - Reply

    […] Read the revised post here.) You don’t need to spend a lot to have an amazing meal in Rome. Some of the city’s […]

  4. you know who September 16, 2011 at 6:39 pm - Reply

    The people at the Forno at Campo dei Fiori are so rude, I can’t stand walking past the place. Good pizza bianca though!

  5. shayma September 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    woo-woo- yay for listing Forno in Campo de’ Fiori. love your list. may i also humbly suggest Il Bucatino in Testaccio? i would say that counts as a ‘budget’ restaurant. i think youre not a fan of Da Francesco (pardon me if i am wrong), but that, too is good food for those who want low price points- though not as low as €10. x shayma

  6. shayma September 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    by the way- love the look of the blog- adore the tommies in the header. gorgeous, dahling. x shayma

  7. Celeste September 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    The photo accompanying this post brought a huge smile to my face. If I could hop a plane to FCO right now, my first stop after exiting the #8 tram would be the Antico Forno….then I’d have to go over to the Ghetto’s Forno for the best pizza rossa. Sigh…to be in Rome on a lovely fall day. Now I’ll just have to bake my own damn p.b and p.r. today!

  8. Matt Cook September 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this! See you at the inaugural Parlafood event domani.

  9. Jeffrey September 17, 2011 at 1:53 am - Reply

    I went to Pizzarium this summer on your recommendation. You are right–not necessarily cheap, but worth every cent…

  10. Erica September 17, 2011 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Hell to the yeah- great post and excellent mention of 00100.

  11. Cathy September 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    We just got back from Rome – thank you so much for this blog, which we relied heavily upon for meal planning. I would add to your list above:
    La Carbonara (Via Panisperna, 214, Metro:Cavour). You recommended it for reliable, relatively inexpensive food. We went twice b/c it was close to our hotel and had two very good experiences. The portions were generous, the food great and the prices highly reasonable. A couple of dishes on the menu weren’t available b/c the ingredients were out of season – which I took to be a good thing. I was a little nervous about going b/c I have seen posts indicating the staff can be less than friendly to tourists, but we found the staff friendly and helpful. The place was packed at 9-9:30 PM, but I had no trouble getting a reservation, once with only about 3 hrs notice. We also hit up many of the gelaterias you recommended and one of our favorites was Danielgelo (Via Gabriello Chiabrera, 40, Metro: Basilica S. Paolo); I think it belongs on this list b/c their portions were so generous. I have an unrelated question – after trying it at La Carbonara, I really want to try making pasta e cece – Katie, what is your favorite Italian recipe website?

  12. Katie September 18, 2011 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    @CheesyK Super!! Let me know how your trip turns out and what you liked (or didn’t like!). Buon appetito!!

    @Shayma do you know that your blog is my inspiration? it is so clean and uncluttered. Rob gave me a good talking to and helped me get rid of some junk. thanks for adding Il Bucatino and Da Francesco. I don’t dislike either of them, but haven’t visited either in ages and I tend to only endorse places I have been to in the past 3-4 months.

    @you know who Ha! that things we go through in rome to eat good food:)

    @Celeste oooh you mean Urbani? Thanks for reminding me about that place. i never go, as i get distracted by the biscotti and pizza ebraica at the kosher bakery nearby!!

    @Jeffrey the good news is that they will work with you if you are on a budget. i see kids go in with 2 euros all the time and walk out with slices of the simpler pies. there is a nice balance there between quality, price, and potential luxury

    @Erica thank you very much!

    @Cathy yes La Carbonara in Monti needs to be on this list. it is super cheap and quite good. im glad you enjoyed it!! im a fan of danielgelo, too. and another really good spot on the same street is Cu Mangia Crisci. the fried sicilian treats are out of this world. for pasta e ceci, i follow maureen fant’s recipe in her Williams Sonoma Rome cookbook. i dont have a favorite recipe site in particular, but browse various ones based on the dish i am preparing. otherwise, i consult a cookbook. hope that helps!!

  13. Amanda October 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the shoutout to my post! Great dining picks. You know how I feel about L’Asino d’Oro… I was actually there for their lunch special not once, but twice, last week. I think they’re getting sick of me 🙂

  14. […] Budget Dining in Rome, Revised […]

  15. Diana August 28, 2012 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    I’d add Mordi e Vai, at the Testaccio Market. My absolute no. 1 cheap (€3 for huge tasty bollito-stuffed pannino) eat, if I’m hanging around the flat but want to get out for a quick lunch break. And really, I’d travel for Mordi e Vai way more than for 00100…

  16. David Colin August 29, 2012 at 3:10 am - Reply

    Thanks for the great list, Katie. LOVE L’Asino d”Oro — probably our new favorite. Above all, amazing lamb meatballs … We look forward to trying even more of your recommendations!

    – David and Laura

  17. kowri34 August 29, 2012 at 11:12 am - Reply

    thanks for speaking at the uc center yesterday! i’m determined to try all of the places you spoke about!

  18. Hein August 31, 2012 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Did not see it on the list but recall from 2011 trip Osteria La Gensola in Trastevere as great food and not too expensive

  19. Pete September 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Great post! I’d also add almost anywhere in San Lorenzo (near La Sapienza) – great food, great nightlife and, most importantly, it can all be done on a student budget!

  20. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) September 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Once at L’asino they couldn’t accomodate me (vegetarian) at lunch and so the soup I had (amazing) and wine were on the house. I love me some Forno, in fact my hippy friend’s grandparents were the former owners. They are dead now.

  21. donatella September 3, 2012 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie!
    I’m a roman foodie and I love your list: budget & quality!
    I suggest, about pizza by the slice, also Angelo e Simonetta (Via Nomentana 581): a little out of centre, but they made an excellent pizza! Maybe the best by the slice.. The dought is… incredible!!!

  22. Hagit September 23, 2012 at 7:16 am - Reply

    Now I’m really curious! 🙂 I just returned from Rome several weeks ago, and I can swear I read about I Caruso gelato in your blog! do you not think it’s good anymore? we loved it!! Also, thanks for great reviews, we enjoyed Pizza after your recommendation as well 🙂

  23. castagne October 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    Did you really mean to recommend Forno for pizza bianca, rather than pizza rosso?

    • Katie October 6, 2012 at 2:13 am - Reply

      Forno in Campo x pizza rossa tutta la vita; Bianca @ Forno Roscioli. Too much sauce on rossa @ Roscioli IMO and often undercooked.

  24. George December 1, 2012 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Not sure I’d call the Enoteca Provincia di Roma budget. If you can stand the wait to get a table, it’s pretty pricey. To me, budget is more like pizza from Formula Uno in San Lorenzo or fixed-menu Italian meal from Del Pallaro at Campo di Fiori. You can also get decent, fixed-price Italian meals at Burro e Sugo near Basilica Sao Paolo.

  25. […] recent post about budget dining is chock full of specifics as to where to eat cheaply (and authentically) in […]

  26. […] are lots of budget dining options in Rome. Visit this post or browse the “Rome on a Budget” category for […]

  27. Rick H April 12, 2013 at 6:50 am - Reply

    You are the best Katie. Glad to see a New Jersey International providing amazing gastronomic info in the Eternal City.

  28. Virginia Traveler May 22, 2013 at 5:30 am - Reply

    Hello Katie-

    What a delight stumbling onto your informative, fresh and lively site as I search for ways to have a more ‘local’ and affordable experience when we visit Italy in August.

    We’re modestly experienced European travelers – like to avoid tourist traps – and are certainly not made of money especially now that our Italian trip will include two more mouths to feed and plane tickets to buy – in our 2 kids – 9 and 12 (the last time we lived la dolce vita was for our honeymoon in the 90’s).

    Since our 2 are beyond the years of being cute little tykes (though they’re pleasant looking enough and dress up well 🙂 )- and are capable of comporting themselves well in adult environments we tend to take them to bars and restaurants, late night activities, etc. when we travel because we know they can usually handle it – and we resist doing ‘kid places’ in lieu of ‘real places’ when we travel. They’re not the most adventurous eaters – but tend to be better ‘away from home’. I think the Italian cuisine should be right up their alley and the photos and posts I’ve seen from your budget dining in Rome posts already have my mouth watering.

    I wonder – if there are any particular places that you would recommend or advise families to shy away from knowing we’ll have our kids in tow. I don’t want to give up a rooftop view of the sunset just because we’ll have the kids with us but we also don’t want to needlessly annoy the locals either :). We do love al fresco dining and rooftop bars or lovely garden restaurants or dining with long views or among ruins or columns, etc. – so if you have any posts/recommendations that point that way we’d sure love to see them.

    Anyway – didn’t mean to turn this into a personal request for advice 🙂 hopefully the info would be relevant to others – so if anything comes to mind I’d love to hear about it – and I’ll be searching for it using the google machine as well. 🙂

    Thanks for your wonderful writing and recommendations. It’s nice to have some excellent local Rome food recommendations that are not so expensive.

    Do you do Venice, Florence, Siena or Barcelona as well? 🙂

  29. […] dining options in Rome are immense and hugely varied but I’ve only covered authentic roman food, especially […]

  30. […] dining options in Rome are immense and hugely varied but I’ve only covered authentic roman food, especially […]

  31. Aventine September 24, 2017 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    All good tips–just a comment that it’s tough for a vegetarian to eat at Mordi et Vai because he doesn’t change his gloves and handles all the meat on his counter alongside the artichokes. That said, I’ve enjoyed it very much–but my vegetarian daughter doesn’t dare come close to the counter. While Rome is very conscious of gluten-free meals, it still seems a bit puzzled by the vegetarian, pizza and pasta aside. (Well, with pizza a taglio everything is put in the oven together and served on the same plate even if you say you are a vegetarian, so that too!)

  32. barbara September 25, 2017 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Love your blog Katie – super helpful for the month we spent in Rome staying in Prati and five minutes from the delectable Bonci. But I would never put Bonci on a ‘budget’ list – I always felt a bit shocked by their prices. Delicious – yes – but I think we had better value at a terrific little pizza place (Romana?) at Via del Governo Vecchio, 134 – just opposite the Leonardo da Vinci School – so there was always a queue of international students (but it moves quickly).

  33. Emily September 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    This is SO TIMELY, as I’m just starting to plan my new husband and my trip to Rome in a month. Thank you!

  34. Chris October 3, 2017 at 1:12 am - Reply

    No Frigidarium! My kid’s favorite spot – nice large cornos for 2 euros

    • Katie Parla October 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm - Reply

      I only recommend natural gelato shops and they aren’t 100% natural, unfortunately.

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