Top eight cheap eats in Rome: Gourmet Chick in Italy

I have been travelling a lot recently and so my recent trip to Rome had to be on a budget.  This was no great sacrifice in Rome where there are so many great cheap places to eat.  Low cost does not have to mean sacrificing any of the la dolce vita. Who needs fine dining when you can be slurping spaghetti over a paper table cloth and knocking back a carafe of house red?  So here is my guide to cheap eats in Rome.  Two people can eat at all these restaurants with at least one glass of wine each for between €10 to €50.

Rome

 
Colosseum

1.  Er Buchetto
The tiny restaurant of Er Buchetto is dedicated solely to selling porchetta.  Alessandro Fioravanti is owner, operator, chef and waiter just like his father Franco before.  His porchetta is seasoned in a special mix of spices before being slow roasted for four hours.  The entire body of the pig sits in the restaurant window and Alessandro simply carves pieces off for customers serving it plain or in a crusty roll.  The salty, succulent slices of pig are a match made in heaven with a glass of red wine and super cheap to boot.

Alessandro at Er Buchetto

Essentials
Details: Via del Viminale 2 F, 00184 Rome, Italy (Ph +39(0)6 4883031)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
9/10

2.  Roscioli
“The best pasta we have eaten in Rome” declared MTV boyfriend as he slurped back the last strand of his carbonara at Roscioli and I could only nod in agreement.  We discovered Roscioli through the excellent Rome based Parla Food blog.  Set in a gorgeous little deli Roscioli morphs into a small restaurant at the rear of the store where the chefs conjure up the best carbonara and cacio e pepe I have tasted.  The carbonara (€15) was an eggy golden colour with great chunks of crispy, salty guanciale and pasta cooked to a perfect texture.

Similarly the cacio e pepe (literally cheese and pepper) (€12) displayed that magical alchemy of pecorino cheese, oil and water which had created a creamy, rich sauce with the added kick of freshly grated pepper.  Admittedly Roscioli is not really a budget restaurant (which is why I have put it second on my list) but if you just order the pasta you can eat and have enough cash left to splurge on a glass of the excellent chianti classico or a little something to take home from the deli.

Carbonara at Roscioli

Essentials
Details: Roscioli Restaurant, Via dei Giubbonari, 21, 00186 Rome, Italy (Ph +39 (0)6 6875287)
Damage: Reasonable/Pricey
10/10

3.  Pizzarium 
You have to stand to eat your pizza and the location is a bit out of the way but the pizza is top notch.  The puffy, light Napoli style pizza is made on site and the staff use scissors to cut it off and serve a taglio (by the slice).  The pizza is sold by weight and I loved the interesting topping choices from pea and prosciutto (€7.80) to ham with stracciatella (€6.30).  Who knew peas could be so good on pizzas?  Pizzarium also sells beers and wine as well if you want to make an evening of it.

Pizza at Pizzarium

Essentials
Details: via della Meloria 43, 00136 Rome, Italy (Ph +39 06 3974 5416).
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve.
8/10
  
4.  Hostaria Romana
If you are looking for an authentic Roman trattoria you don’t need to look much further than Hostaria Romana from its menu of Roman classics to the graffiti on the walls, the place oozes atmosphere.  A selection of antipasta for €10 featured grilled zucchini, a wodge of stracciatella alongside salami and boquerones.  Carbonara (€8) is a specialty here and the bowl of pasta is mixed at the table with egg (never cream) and flecks of salty guanicole.  We also tried out the amatriciana (€8) on the subtle side of spicy with a great tomato based sauce.  We loved the atmosphere of the place and the extremely quaffable house red but both our pasta dishes erred on the side of being too al dente.   Greedy Diva had no such issues on her visit so hopefully we just got a bad night.

Antipasti at Hostal Romana

Essentials
Details: Via del Boccaccio, 1 (angolo Via Rasella), 00187 Rome, Italy (Ph 06 474 5284)
Damage: Reasonable
7/10

5.  Freni and Frizoni
Freni and Frizoni is not a restaurant at all, rather it is one of the best bars I have ever been to.  Located in an old garage which gives the bar its name (it means brakes and clutches in English) the seriously hip crowd spills out onto a huge outdoor patio overlooking the Tiber river.  Cocktails here are made with painstaking love to the extent it was tempting to ask the bar staff to hurry up.  They are worth the wait though with my vote going to the Franzi mash (€8), a mixture of porto tawny, fresh pineapple and lemon, while MTV boyfriend favoured the ginger mojito (€8).  The reason Freni and Frizoni makes this list though is the extensive apertivo buffet served between 7 and 10pm.  For the cost of a €6 glass of wine you can eat as much as you want from the extensive selection of salads and dips on offer.  We tucked into crudites with hommus and tziaki followed by salads featuring grilled cauliflowers, rice and chickpeas.

Cocktails at Frenzi and Frizoni

Essentials
Details: 4-6 Via del Politeama, Trastevere area, Rome, Italy (Ph +39 06 5833 4210)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
8/10

6.  Dal Paino
Famed Roman pizzeria Da Baffeto was closed when we visited so we headed around the corner to Del Paino.  The sign for the restaurant is proudly marked as “recommended by Da Baffeto” so we figured we must be onto something good.  Dal Paino’s pizza is thin crust Roman style, cooked to a perfectly crisp, charred base in the restaurant’s wood fired oven.   The capricossa (€8.50) which was the waiter’s suggestion had a bit too much going on toppings wise since less is more where pizza is concerned but the alla prosciutto (€8) was much better.  A major bonus was the lovely outdoor street seating area where you could sit and watch the world go by.

Pizza at Dal Paino

Essentials
Details: 34a-35a Via di Parione, Centro Storico area, Rome, Italy (Ph 06 681 35 140)
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
7/10

7. Dagnino
 
This Sicilian bakery tucked away in a shopping centre alley serves a great coffee and even better pastries.  The cannoli are not to be missed.
Cannoli at Dagnino

 

Essentials
Details: Via Ve Orlando 75, Rome 00187, Italy (Ph +39 064818660)

Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve
6/10

8.  Alle Fratte di Trastevere
This ivy clad trattoria is a good option if you are out on the town in the buzzing Travestere district.  Primi of chunks of bouncy octopus served with rocket was refreshing and light while the restaurant also served a decent if unremarkable gnocchi napoli (€6) and cacio e pepe (€9.50).  Unusually the cacio e pepe was made with orichette which took something away from the experience of slurping up the sauce but apparently I could have just asked and they would have cooked any pasta.

Octopus primi

Essentials
Details: 49-50 Via delle Fratte di Trastevere, Trastevere area, Rome (Ph +39 06 583 5775)
Damage: Reasonable
5/10

Gourmet Travel Tips

  • We flew with Easyjet from London to Rome and our flights were around £150 return although you could pay a lot less if you booked further ahead.
  • We stayed at Hotel Daphne a boutique B&B near the Trevi fountain which I highly recommend.  Hotels in Rome are expensive so Hotel Daphne offers a relatively budget option if you are prepared to share a bathroom.  The rooms are modern and huge and there are lots of great touches like a pre paid Italian mobile phone for each guest, free wifi and Apple laptops on each floor and freshly made cappuccinos each morning as part of the breakfast buffet.  Where Hotel Daphne really excels though is in the amazing advice that all the staff offer.  From restaurant recommendations to the best time to whether you can wear thongs to the Vatican the staff are experts on Rome and only too eager to impart their knowledge.  Rooms from €150 a night.
Our room at Hotel Daphne
  • In Rome you need to book ahead.  I am more of a spontaneous (read disorganised) traveller and so had not booked anything in advance so we missed out on a great tour of the dungeons under the Coloseum and had to queue for tickets for other attractions.
  • During our time in Rome we joined the crowds at the Vatican (and climbed the stairs to the top of St Peters basilica for the great view), the Colosseum, Forum and Pantheon.  We also lazed around in the  many a picturesque piazza and did a culinary tour through Hotel Daphne (€70 for two people) which took us to the Piazza Vittorio market and some great cheese, wine and spice stores.
  • My final tip is to carry an empty water bottle with you everywhere, there are lots of fountains to fill up at all over Rome dispensing delicious cold water.  

Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my post on eating porchetta in Umbria or feasting on an island on Lake Como.

Posted by: on July 22nd, 2011     25 Comments »

Category: Travel - Italy Tags: , , , ,
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25 Comments on “Top eight cheap eats in Rome: Gourmet Chick in Italy”

  1. Nancy - Hungry in Camden said at 7:43 am on July 22nd, 2011:

    I’ll take one of each please. God that all looks amazing. Especially Pizzarium!

  2. leiladukes said at 8:42 am on July 22nd, 2011:

    I’ve been looking forward to this post since you mentioned it — thank you! Can’t wait for my own trip to Roma at the end of Sept. x

  3. thelittleloaf said at 10:10 am on July 22nd, 2011:

    Rome is one of my favourite Italian cities – the food is utterly incredible and you can get such great food without paying through the nose (unlike other major cities…). These photos are making me incredibly hungry…and excited about my trip to Italy next week!

  4. Paula {A Dreamer's Journal} said at 10:02 pm on July 22nd, 2011:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Paula {A Dreamer's Journal} said at 10:05 pm on July 22nd, 2011:

    I will definitely refer back to this when I’m planning my trip for rome! The food looks lush! Great post! x

  6. philip hendon said at 8:31 pm on July 23rd, 2011:

    Having been to Rome a couple of times (love the place) I agree with the writer, there is so much choice whatever your budget. So many great places…just want to go back…again and again. The great thing about the city (well actually there are loads of great things) is it’s so compact so it’s so easy to get around.

    Phil

  7. GastroStu said at 11:56 am on July 24th, 2011:

    Delicious post. I particularly like the look of the Alle Fratte di Trastevere.

  8. gastromummy said at 8:44 pm on July 24th, 2011:

    Brilliant, this is great! Heading to Rome in September so will dig this out nearer the time.

  9. Gourmet Chick said at 8:45 pm on July 24th, 2011:

    Nancy – Pizzarium was a real highlight

    Leila – I am sure you will have a ball

    The Little Loaf – Lucky you! Enjoy.

    Paula – Ooh enjoy your trip – when are you off?

    Phil – you are right – we walked everywhere and there was so much to see (and eat!)

    GastroStu – Thanks very much.

  10. Katy Salter @ Pinch of Salt said at 9:12 pm on July 25th, 2011:

    Oh god you’re making me want to go back to Rome immediately! We ate our best carbonara at a little place in Trastevere – can’t remember the name of the place though sadly, but it was extraordinary – both the traditional carbonara and a version with tiny slivers of courgette and tomatoes tossed in with the pancetta. Luckily we threw lots of coins in the Trevi fountain so when we go back we can try some of these great tips,too!

  11. Ritchie said at 9:38 am on July 26th, 2011:

    Alle Fratte in Trastevere: wonderful!
    Great post, amazing city, nice pics!
    Well done!

  12. Zoe Lush said at 9:02 pm on February 2nd, 2013:

    Thanks Gourmet Chick – we used nearly all your recommendations (except sadly the wonderful sounding cocktail bar as it was too far – will do it next time). Thanks for the tips, you have great taste and made our trip all the more enjoyable.

  13. cara waters said at 4:51 am on February 3rd, 2013:

    Katy – How good is the carbonara in Rome – has changed the way I think about it forever

    Ritchie – As an Italian I am glad you approve

    Zoe – So glad to hear my recommendations were helpful and that you had a great trip to Rome. Such a beautiful city.

  14. goowai.adele said at 2:04 pm on April 23rd, 2013:

    That’s mouthwatering!

    Anyway, booking ahead of time to travel in a foreign country is good to avoid inconvenience. And also there are hotels with restaurants in Italy that offers good Italian foods too, no need to waste time looking for restaurants on where to eat. But most this good restaurants can be found whether in Tuscany or Liguria.

  15. Gourmet Chick » Blog Archive » Travel said at 8:21 pm on April 28th, 2013:

    [...] Alle Fratte di Trastevere;  [...]

  16. mel @ crunchytiger said at 12:08 pm on May 8th, 2013:

    Ahhh! I’m going to be in Rome for a few days at the end of May! This list is so helpful… awesome post!

  17. Christine said at 8:51 pm on July 23rd, 2013:

    I love all these suggestions. I’m planning a trip to Rome and need to find nice pasta places that will not break the bank. I will use these suggestions for sure.

  18. Cara said at 10:45 pm on July 23rd, 2013:

    Christine – hope you have a great trip.

  19. Cara said at 6:18 pm on July 24th, 2013:

    Christine – Have a great trip – very jealous!

  20. tom torriglia said at 5:33 pm on August 3rd, 2013:

    stumbled upon er buchetti. Fun place. Sandwich and water only 4 euros. Thanks for the tip.

  21. Dorian61 said at 8:30 pm on August 8th, 2013:

    Try the new opening http://www.baldovinoristorante.com/
    all the staff used to work for many gourmet restaurant like All’Oro,La Pergola ecc..

  22. Ola said at 8:17 pm on October 12th, 2013:

    Thank you very much for the post! I find it extremely helpful as I am flying to Rome just today :))

  23. Rome in real time - Destination Boomers said at 7:33 pm on October 24th, 2013:

    […] 8 Cheap Eats in Rome by Gourmet Chicks […]

  24. Football Trip geo1 | Football Holiday, geo1 | Football Travel, geo1 Football Trip Scout said at 4:18 am on December 27th, 2013:

    […] http://www.gourmet-chick.com/2011/07/eight-cheap-eats-in-rome-gourmet-chick.html […]

  25. Ristoranti a Milano said at 2:03 am on March 14th, 2014:

    I hope you’ve enjoy in this trip!


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