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Whilst Italian food is considered to be among the best in the world, sadly you do not always get what you pay for. Tales of tourists being asked to pay €700 for a meal in Rome’s center (as happened during the summer) are happily rare, but substandard, overpriced fare is far more common that anyone would like to admit.
So following on from our list of authentic Roman restaurants that was previously published on our blog, here are three more restaurants with excellent food that won’t rip you off with made-up cover prices. Prices vary and are indicated as a guide.
(And remember, it is always cheaper to order house wine by the half liter than a bottle–”Vino Sfuso”.)
Vecchia Roma Pizzeria €
In the picturesque area on Monti with its charming winding cobbled streets and artists shops, this little pizzeria is a little treasure for a cheap eat close to the Colosseum. Vecchia Roma offers a simple menu of pizza and pasta dishes. Expect to pay between €5-8 for a pizza and around €4 for half a liter of red wine.
The restaurant is small so book in advance when possible. After the meal, it’s worth crossing the road to enjoy a pint at Finnegans Irish, a popular hangout for watching international football games.
Vecchia Roma, Via Leonina 10, Roma
Tel: 06 474 5887
This traditional restaurant, where locals sit almost cheek to cheek as they cram into every space to enjoy the good food on offer, dates back over 100 years. It is just a short walk from the Trevi Fountain down a small side street.
My favorite dish here is the “Bistecca di Manzo con patate or fagioli” (Steak with potatoes or beans), washed down with a glass of Peroni beer and chunks of bread–and costs around €16 per head. You cannot reserve a table, so you should expect to queue at busy times.
L’Antica Birreria Perroni, Via S. Marcello 19, Roma 00197
Tel: 06 679 5310
La Carbonara €€
This traditional, family-run osteria is in the Rione Monti district—just a short walk from Santa Maria Maggiore. A world away from the central tourist restaurants, this atmospheric place is a real local find which has served traditional dishes since 1906 using fresh simple ingredients.
Recommended dishes include the pasta with carbonara sauce followed by melt-in-the-mouth profiteroles. After the meal you are invited to leave your comments not in a visitors’ book, but by writing on the walls. Be warned that you need to book in advance, especially over weekends, and that the menu is only available in Italian. Expect to pay around €20 per head for a starter, main dish, and glass of wine.
La Carbonara, Via Panisperna 214, 00184 Roma.
Tel: 06 482 5176
Top Tip – Get a receipt!
It is law in Italy to get a receipt when buying anything, including food and drink. It is possible (although almost unheard of) to be stopped when leaving a restaurant or coffee shop and, if unable to produce a receipt, be fined. The official receipt is called a “Scontrino Fiscale” and should have the restaurant Partitia IVA code printed on it.
Do not be afraid to ask for a receipt and do not accept handwritten scraps of paper. Not only are you breaking the law without it, but you could well find that the bill’s total suddenly drops when an itemized printed bill has to be produced. Also, do not be scared to challenge anything on the bill you are unsure of…. Or just follow our recommended lists to ensure you enjoy a true Italian meal!