Take a look at some of the most unusual food to try in Rome.
Rome, the eternal city, in terms of food, is associated with pasta, pizza, and gelato.
Those foods are phenomenal and every traveler should indulge in them as much as possible. However, a little bit of research leads us to other not so well known dishes that are part of the city’s identity.
Therefore, here is an interesting proposition: get on a comfortable flight, book a hotel stay, and get ready to eat as true Roman. Cin cin!
Suppli – Foods to Try in Rome
Seems like there is no agreement of what the actual ingredients conforming a suppli are. Some claim the classic version is a fried mixture of rice, tomato sauce, ground meat, chicken innards, and mozzarella cheese. Others describe it as a croquette or rice cake. There is one consensus point: they are delicious. Find them at cafés or pizza joints.
Tripa alla Romana
Oh, tripe. This animal part is prepared in so many ways throughout the world. In Rome, it is stewed in well-seasoned tomato sauce in order to tenderize it. It is served in a soup bowl topped with pecorino cheese. That is so Roman!
Coda alla Vaccinara
Coda is one of my favorite words in Italian. It means tail (but has some musical connotations). In this particular dish, it refers to oxtails. This type of, ahem, behind needs to be stewed for hours to soften it and bring out the flavor. The stew base is formed by simmering tomatoes, lard, vegetables, and other ingredients. In fact, there is not an ‘official’ way to prepare it. Each family has its own recipe.
Pajata – Food to Try in Rome
What I have described till this moment is not that ‘unusual.’ Now, things are going to get a little bit more intense. Pajata refers to the intestines of calves served usually with a tomato-based sauce over pasta (thick varieties such as rigatoni are preferred). At least, those calves were feed with milk only (they are slaughter before they start to eat grass). That means you are not going to find strange substances inside those intestines.
This sounds strange but the Tiber River was once a good source of eels (ancient Romans feasted on those). Since the Tiber is now polluted, baby eels from Lake Bracciano (located 32 km from Rome) are used in ingredients for stews. It may be hard to find them in the city (it was difficult to find information) because they seem to be associated with religious festivities.
Guanciale is a cured meat prepared from pork cheeks. Some of the best producers of this product reside in the Lazio region (where is considered a delicacy). Try it in antipasto or as a pasta ingredient.
Ancient Romans loved their snails. They were even raised in special gardens in an effort to fatten them (that is weird). I am not sure how popular they are nowadays but they are associated with a religious festival (Feast of St. John).
Puntarelle – Foods to Try in Rome
This type of chicory (also known as Catalonian chicory or Roman Chicory) is popular in the Lazio region. Its bitter taste and crispy texture has won it fans all over the world. They are not found anywhere else in Italy and this creates a sense of pride and distinction in Romans. The greens are served with a simple dressing made of garlic, anchovy, and vinegar. The puntarelle are only available in season (late fall – early winter).
Tip: Rome, of course, is not the only city in Italy with special cuisine, in fact, it varies from city to city. If you want to drive around a bit you should take the time to drive three hours south to the coastal city Sorrento.
Sorrento is located in the Campania province and food lovers would appreciate the opportunity to discover one of Italy’s more famous regional cuisines. In fact, it is a city worth staying overnight to get the best of their local food.
Sorrento is known for the tasty treat limoncello made with the famous lemons from Sorrento. You should take a couple of days to make sure you get the opportunity to try all their lemon desserts, salads, and savory treats.
Have you tried any of these?