Food & Drink in Rome

Italy is world famous for the quality and variety of its food: each region has its own specialities, inspired by the diverse climate and history. Rome's contribution to the national cuisine is among the richest, including such classic pasta dishes as the oft-abused carbonara (which shouldn't contain cream!) and amatriciana, as well as fried foods like supplí (balls of risotto sith a tomato sauce and piece of mozarella, coated in breadcrumbs) and fiori di zucca (courgette flowers bundled with anchovies and mozarella, and battered).

In terms of meat, Rome is most famous for its offal: the quinto quarto, or fifth quarter of the animal. If you're not squeamish, Bones, cheeks, tripe, and even intestines are used to create some unmissable dishes.

Roman pizza is distinctive for its thin, crispy base, as opposed to the thicker Neapolitan style; although more Roman restaurants these days seem to serve various takes on the Neapolitan style, it's worth tracking down the real thing.

As with most areas of tourism, food in Rome is worth researching before you go: the tourist areas are full of low-quality restaurants that serve up frozen, out-of-season junk that has no more connection to real Roman food than McDonalds; and they'll charge you through the nose for it. But if you take some time to research the best of Rome's cuisine, and where to get it, what you eat could turn out to be one of the most memorable parts of your visit to the city (for the right reasons).

Courses in an Italian meal

The Roman meal is divided in four courses: antipasto, which could be bruschetta (toasted bread, often with tomatoes) or a selection of cold meats and cheeses; primo, which is usually pasta, risotto, or soup; secondo, which is meat or fish; and finally the sweet course, dolci. People often round off the meal with a coffee and maybe a shot of grappa, an amaro, or a glass of Fernet-Branca. Restaurants won't expect you to have every course, and plenty of people just have an antipasto followed by a bowl of pasta or a piece of meat. (Meat is usually served on its own, so be sure to specify if you'd like a side salad or vegetables, known as contorni.)

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