In Italian the term mangiare passeggiando (eat while walking) isn’t one you hear all that often. It should come as no surprise that Italians prioritize their dining time. So the concept of eating while doing anything else – walking or working, for example – isn’t a commonly adopted practice. But that doesn’t mean that Roman street food, fast food, or convenient grab-n-go options don’t exist.
And they’re not all sweet options either, as gelato probably comes in as the first thing you may think of. (Although we have written quite a bit about some tasty and portable sweet options if you’re looking to organize your own gelato tour or just curious about summer-friendly Roman street sweets).
Below is our guide to Roman street food, the savory options. Have a try and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Pizza “al taglio” – literally translated, by the cut, is your pizza-by-the-slice option for some real Roman street food. It’s probably the most common easy dinner plan for most Roman families as well as a fast lunch or quick snack. The set up of these places are pretty simple, with a counter full of long sheets of thin (or thick) crust pizza. The attendant at the counter will ask you how much you’d like, indicating the size of your slice using a massive knife and as soon as you’re satisfied with the quantity, a swift fall of the knife severs your piece from the rest of it. From here, you can either have it heated or just wrapped up to take it with you. The price is then calculated by the weight (Pro Tip: choose your toppings wisely as the heavier ones will run your bill up much quicker than the simpler pizzas).
Here’s a list of our favorite Pizza al taglio spots:
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, 22 | Website
Via dei Chiavari, 34 | Website
Via Trionfale, 36 | Website
Via della Meloria, 43 | Website
A tramezzino is a staple of every bar in Italy. It’s characteristically triangular in shape and made with fluffy white bread and most commonly filled with tomatoes and mozzarella, salami and egg, tuna, bresaola and arugula, or prosciutto and cheese. A tramezzino should cost just a few euros, and you can request to have it heated if you like, but it’s often just a few bites so most Italians will just scarf it down at the bar. The tramezzino is so widely homogenous that we really don’t have any recommendations for where to get a good one – they’re really all the same everywhere. Stop in any coffee bar after 11:30am or so, and you’re sure to find the signature triangles in the counter.
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Panino is the Italian word for “sandwich” (even burgers are often considered panini). The word widely describes any kind of sandwich on any kind of bread though the most common are sandwiches on rolls or in baguettes. The panino is the ultimate in picnic and travel friendly food since there are so many variations, cleanliness, value for cost, and convenience for enjoying. Whether you’re walking around Rome, sitting in a piazza, or having a picnic in the park the panino is the very best choice.
Here are a few places for our favorite paninis:
Via Urbana , 54 | Website
Via Borgognona 43-46 (Piazza di Spagna) & Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 54-55 (Pantheon) | Website
Via Giovanni da Empoli, 37 | Website
For travelers visiting Rome, the supplì may seem like a close cousin to the Sicilian arancino but no Roman would admit the similarity. The Roman supplì is a common antipasto to a pizza dinner, since it’s deep fried a bit indulgent for the typically more healthy diet of the average Italian. Essentially the supplì is a deep fried breaded rice ball that’s been mixed with tomato sauce and hides a melty center of mozzarella di bufala. Often supplì is referred to “al telefono” because according to purists, when you pull the supplì apart in two halves, the cheese center should stretch into a long string between them, like a telephone cord. This is the test for a well-made, well-fried supplì.
If you visit a pizzeria anywhere in Rome, you’ll find supplì on the menu – along with fried zucchini flowers, croquets (fried potato) and ascolane olives (breaded and deep fried olives filled with meat).
When it comes to where to get the best supplì there’s really only one contender: the original supplì place in Trastevere that’s been serving the Roman community for decades.
Trapizzino is probably Rome’s newest entry into the Roman street food scene. Think pita bread but with fluffy pizza crust stuffed with traditional Roman fillings like pollo alla cacciatora (chicken), polpetta al sugo (meatballs), and parmigiana alla melanzane (eggplant parmesan). The first Trapizzino opened in the alternative neighborhood of Testaccio in 2013. Since then, Trapizzino has opened over a dozen restaurants in Rome, Milan, Florence, elsewhere in Italy and even New York. The Trapizzino ticks all the right boxes for the best kind of street food: portability, convenience, and of course, deliciousness.
Take a look at their website to find the nearest location to you, or stop by the original in Testaccio at Via Giovanni Branca, 88.
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What is your Roman street food? Did we miss it in our list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!