A Guide To Rome’s Cheapest Restaurants
When in Rome… Do as the Romans do and eat at simple tavernas. The first-century Roman gourmand Apicius may have been fond of camel heels and flamingo brains, but today’s Romans have simpler tastes. They tend to avoid ostentation in favour of side-street hosterias and traditional trattorias serving cucina povera (“poor food”) based on rustic, offal-based dishes. And, if you want to save money, you should too.
A favourite among many seasoned visitors to Rome, Hostaria Romana on Via del Boccaccio, is the kind of restaurant you never want to leave. With its wonderful atmosphere and attentive service, you’ll find dishes such as the specialty pasta carbonara (€8) and the spicy amatriciana (€8) go down easily.
Da Tonino, Piazza Navona
This may not be the most stylish restaurant in town, but the food more than compensates. Great steaming plates of carbonara, matriciana, and rigatoni con melanzana (aubergine) have no equal, and the polpette (meatballs) are sublime. House wine is quaffable, and a main course: will set you back about €6 to €8.
Alle Fratte di Trastevere
This cosy trattoria is one of the many appetising options for cheap dining in the lively Travestere district. Try the refreshing primi of chunks of octopus served with rocket and the gnocchi napoli (€6) or cacio e pepe (€9.50).
Alfredo e Ada, Piazza Navona
Ada died in 2009, but her son still carries on the tradition of cooking dinner like Nonna used to make. This unique restaurant has no menu and you get whatever meal has been cooked on the day, which includes pasta of the day, a meat dish, vegetables, and biscotti for dipping in the wine (highly recommended!). You’ll spend about €15 a person.
This “cheap pizzeria” in San Lorenzo lives up to its name. Enjoy thin and crispy pizza with fresh toppings for just €5 and wash it down with €2 beers.
Husband-and-wife chefs Paola and Vincenzo conjure up original new recipes and Roman classics in this gem on the Via Augusto Dulceri. Son Andrea, a certified sommelier, offers excellent advice on what cheap yet tasty bottle will best complement your meal. Expect to pay between €5.50 and €9 for a main dish.
Discreetly located in a piazza just off one of Trastevere’s busy main drags, this unassuming trattoria delivers consistently excellent authentic Roman cuisine at incredibly low prices. Expect to pay less than €10 for a main course. It is always packed, so prepare to wait if you have not reserved a table.
Molisani, tucked away on Via Bergamo, has a reputation for unassuming yet delicious food. Experts at Italian favourites, their pasta and salads are excellent and extremely affordable Pizza or lasagna will set you back about €5 or €6.
Luciano Luzzi Trattoria
Luzzi, on Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, is the genuine article when it comes to Roman trattorias. Established in 1945, this family-run restaurant offers delicious lasagna, lamb, and wood oven pizza just a 5-minute walk away from the Colosseum. Pizzas and pastas cost about €6.
End on a sweet note: You cannot leave Rome without sampling authentic tiramisù, and the version served at Pompi, on Via Albalonga, is the best. Established in 1960, Bar Pompi Gelateria is a pastry cafe and bar that serves not just the city’s finest tiramisù, but some pretty good pastry and gelati too. Tiramisu costs €3.50.
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Tiramisu by Brad Coy