Eat on a budget in Rome: cheap restaurant in the Eternal City

I must admit, Rome is not a low-cost capital; or better, it is if compared to many other European capitals, but it is not among Italy’s cheapest destinations.

You can still visit the city low-cost, though, so I want to open this new section to tell you about my Rome, especially my low-cost Rome.
Where to start, if not with the food? Usually the first thing you ask is: where can you eat in Rome on a budget?

mangiare a roma spendendo poco, ciambelle di piazza navona
Eat on a budget in Rome: the famous big donuts of Piazza Navona (during Christimas Market)

Eat on a budget in Rome: restaurants, street food and desserts not-to-be-missed


Let’s start with my favorite thing, the desserts!
During the winter you cannot miss the donuts and the “bewitched apples” of Piazza Navona. At the price of 2 euros, you will taste the typical Christmas taste of Rome (hoping that the city’s famous market will open again).

If you like ice cream, try “Palazzo del Freddo” in Via Principe Eugenio 65, one of the oldest ice cream shops in Italy (it was founded in 1880), placed in a 700 square meter gallery. Here the economic specialty is “San Pietrino”: small squares of glazed ice cream that recall the shape of the famous Roman stones.

How can we not mention the most famous tiramisù of the city, the one made by Pompi in Via Albalonga? 3.50 euros if eaten at the counter, 5 euros if seated (served with cream), with different flavors: classic, strawberry, hazelnut, pistachio, berries and banana with nutella.

mangiare a roma spendendo poco, pizza a taglio
Eat on a budget in Rome: the traditional “Pizza bianca with mortazza” the most authentic roman street food

Street Food

A low-cost but very traditional food is street food.
In Rome, the ultimate street food is represented by a square of white pizza stuffed with mortadella (the closest american thing you can find is Bologna on white bread… except that it is made with the real italian mortadella and pizza). Also typical are: bread (or pizza) stuffed with porchetta, supplì (fried balls of rice with tomato sauce and mozzarella) and the legendary deep fried cod fillet “Dar Filettaro” in Santa Barbara, in Largo dei Librari 88 (behind Campo de ‘ Fiori), where you can also find tables.

The “do-it-yourself” sandwiches are also very good and traditional of Rome – ie those in which you choose what to put among the many ingredients available (kinda like an italian deli in the US). The best and cheapest are those of Aristocampo shops (various locations throughout the city) or those of the Testaccio Market.

Trapizzino, defined the most loved Roman street food – is a recent creation, a mix between pizza and sandwich. You can find it in the heart of Ponte Milvio, in Testaccio and in the Termini Central Market. I advise you to try the classic tastes first… you will be sure to do an encore!

mangiare a roma spendendo poco, trattorie
Eat on a budget in Rome: amatriciana


First of all: what a Trattoria is? Form Wikipedia: “an Italian-style eating establishment that is generally much less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria (what an osteria is? From Wiki again: “A place serving wine and simple food. Lately, the emphasis has shifted to the food, but menus tend to be short, with the emphasis on local specialities such as pasta and grilled meat or fish.”)

For me, for now, the real low cost traditional Roman dishes can be found at “Fraschette” in the Castelli Romani. With fixed menus from 10 to 20 euros, you will eat until you burst, taste Romanella (a sweet and sparkling wine that will make you drunk by the second glass) and try traditional dishes.
If, on the other hand, you are craving pizza but you want to sit at a table, try “Er Secchio e l’Olivaro”. There are three restaurant in Rome, but (at the moment this article has been written) the one in Ostiense does not make “bruschetta”, a real specialty of the place: there are a lot of flavours, one better than the other! They only make 4 types of pizza and it is served on large round wooden cutting boards, already cut into small pieces. Made for sharing!

A good restaurant where you can eat fish and spend less (relatively in terms of fish specialties) is “Pesceria Romana”, a small restaurant where you can choose what you want to eat at the counter.
There are really many low cost Roman trattorias and they deserve a separate post, which I will write as soon as I feel “expert” enough… I will make the sacrifice to try as many as possible!
Thanks to this idea, I will also try the new online restaurant booking service (and you know that we do almost everything online!): Quandoo. Have you ever heard about it? It is an international platform that allows you to book any type of restaurant online, from a trattoria to a Michelin starred restaurant. Each booking gives you loyalty points which can be redeemed in the form of a voucher… convenient, isn’t it?

Some photos of this article are taken from the Food Blog Picchiapò in cucina.

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