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The Absolutely Best Food Tour In Rome

What’s The Best Food Tour In Rome?

After booking my Colosseum tour, I knew the next step was reserving our food tour in Rome. We’ve taken over a dozen food tours around the world, and we never regret it. And while we’ve enjoyed using a few different companies, Secret Food Tours has become our favorite.  

Food is a part of daily life, family celebrations, and an integral part of any culture. So a food tour is an ideal way to explore a new country, city, or region. The added benefit is a guide sharing the local history and traditions. In fact I think food tours are among the best ways to become immersed in the place you’re visiting.

Starting In Piazza Navona

For our tour we gathered at Piazza Navona, one of Rome’s best known squares. Its focal point is the Four Rivers Fountain, commissioned by Pope Innocent X and unveiled to the public in 1651. This space has served as a gathering spot for Romans since the first century.

After introducing himself, our guide, Robbie, led us to a nearby cafe for our choice of a coffee drink. While we sipped our beverages he introduced himself and gave us an overview of the afternoon.

Assortment of Roman pizza
Assortment of Roman pizza

The Pizza Stop

We strolled through the streets of Rome for about ten minutes and arrived at the bustling Antico Forno Roscioli, a family owned bakery and pizza shop popular with both locals and visitors. While customers waited in line for their orders a staff member ran out of the shop with a large bundle of baguettes to make a delivery to a nearby restaurant.

Robbie explained that what we were about to enjoy was Roman style pizza, something Jason and I ate several times during our stay in Rome. This thin crust pizza is baked on large rectangular, metal sheet pans and then sliced into smaller servings. Some places sell it by weight, others by the piece. What we loved were the unique toppings that aren’t typical in the U.S. including squash blossoms, chicory greens, artichokes, and eggplant. It’s also common to see pizzas topped with meats like sausage, salami, and prosciutto.

The Italian city of Naples is responsible for first creating pizza in the 1600’s. The version now popular in Rome became popular in the 1950’s. Today many Italian cities have their own version of pizza with different crusts, sauces, and toppings.

Best Food Tours In Rome
Our guide, Robbie

Visiting A Classic Butchery

Next we walked a short distance to Campo di Fiori, one of the best known squares in all of Rome. A large outdoor market takes place here everyday from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s an explosion of colors and smells from all the fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Our next food stop was at a norcineria, an old Italian word for butchery. This particular one has been in business since 1890. Hundreds of smoked and preserved meats hung from the ceiling and filled the glass display case. I’ll admit that the outside of this shop was a bit intimidating with the head of a boar hung over the entrance. If I wasn’t on a food tour of Rome, I probably would have kept walking.

We were treated to trays of sliced meats and cheeses, a basket of sliced bread all accompanied by a bottle of red wine from Tuscany. This was charcuterie at its absolute best. 

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Cannoli in Rome
Cannoli

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A Sweet Stop

After two savory stops, it was time for something sweet, so we headed to I Dolci di Nonna Vincenza, a family-owned Sicilian pastry shop. In the front room were large display cases loaded with cakes and pastries. In the back room were baskets and canisters filled with Easter candies (we were visiting in April, just a few days before Easter).

Most of the tour had been spent standing or walking, so this stop allowed us to be seated and use the restrooms. Then Robbie served us cannolis; tube shaped, crunchy pastry filled with sweet ricotta. It’s believed that the creation of the cannoli took place around the city of Caltanissetta between 827 and 1091. I must admit that cannoli are not my favorite Italian dessert, I much prefer tiramisu. Jason however, is a big fan of this traditional Sicilian sweet.

Best Food Tours In Rome--Pasta Amatriciana
Pasta Amatriciana

Pasta, Pasta, And More Pasta

Would it be a food tour in Rome if we didn’t eat pasta? I don’t think so. 

But before our pasta stop, we had the opportunity to walk through the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. Established in 1555 by a Papal edict, this neighborhood was originally surrounded by a wall so Jews could be forced to live and work here. Of the thousands of people living here during the Nazi occupation just 16 survived. Small gold plaques are frequently seen in front of homes, each inscribed with the names of the former residents murdered in concentration camps. From this horrific past, the Jewish Ghetto today has evolved to become one of Rome’s trendiest spots filled with popular restaurants.

Gold plaques in Jewish Ghetto
Plaques memorializing Jewish residents of Rome murdered by Nazis

We eventually found our way to a taverna, traditionally a very informal restaurant. We were treated to two traditional Roman pastas, cacio e pepe and Amatriciana. This first is simply cheese and pepper, quite possibly my favorite pasta in the world. The second is tomato sauce, red peppers, and bits of guanciale, a salt-cured pork jowl. 

Robbie shared with us that pasta was originally long and served with olive oil. With the introduction of tomatoes in the 16th century and subsequently tomato sauces, shorter pastas were introduced. 

Since we were visiting during artichoke season, a platter of fried artichokes accompanied our pasta. In the U.S. we typically use only the heart of the artichoke, but in Rome, most of the choke is used and commonly it’s fried so that the tough outer leaves become crispy.

Gelateria in Rome
Gelateria in Rome

Gelato To End The Day

I didn’t really have room for gelato, but it seemed so wrong to pass it up. Our tour concluded at Corona Gelateria, a family-owned shop that makes its own gelato on site every day. There were over two dozen flavors to choose from. I took only a few bites, but it was delicious.

Most Definitely The Best Food Tour In Rome

It had been three years since we’d been on a Secret Food Tour and it felt great to be back. Our personable guide, Robbie, combined with a beautiful city and amazing food made for the perfect afternoon. While it’s easy to eat great food all over this city, having the help of an expert to guide us to lesser known and family-owned shops and restaurants made it worth every penny.

Looking for other great tours in Rome? Be sure to book this Colosseum Underground Tour today!

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Angela

    Take me back to Rome! What a fabulous post highlighting delicious Italian favourites. I have started doing food tours myself when I am in a new city, I think it’s such a nice way to familiarise yourself with your destination over food! I had one of my best meals in Piazza Navona so it was lovely to see that as your opening location.

    1. Wendy

      I totally agree, take me back to Rome!

    2. Linda Jane

      A food tour is such a great way to learn about and enjoy a new culture when you’re travelling & I LOVE Italian food! What a fabulous way to discover Rome!

  2. Amy

    I love food tours! It’s such a great way to learn more about the culture. On our last visit to Rome we did a variation – a tour followed by dinner in a home in Trastevere. So fun!

    1. Wendy

      I love that variation! We only walked briefly through Trastevere during this trip, so clearly I need to go back and explore it some more.

  3. I must admit that we will always be up for a food tour. And since we have never had a bad meal in Italy, I am sure we would love every stop. I love the chance to visit more local spots if you have a local guide for a food tour. And we would definitely love the stop at the butcher shop for charcuterie. I would be glad for a walking tour with all that great pasta and gelato. A fun way to explore Rome.

  4. Alma

    Oh, I am drooling! Italy has delightful culinary experiences. One definitely has to leave some space for gelato! A delicious way to end the day.

  5. Laureen

    We love to take food tours – always a great introduction to a culture and a place. This one looks amazing!!

  6. Michelle

    This looks so fun. We took a food tour in Rome and loved it so much. It introduced us to places we wouldn’t have normally chosen.

    1. Wendy

      That’s exactly why we enjoy food tours!

  7. Krista

    It’s great to hear that Secret Food Tours have a tour in Rome. We joined them in Dublin and loved it!

  8. Pam

    This food tour definitely ticks off most of the ‘must-eats’ in Rome! Love Secret Food Tours for that exact reason!

  9. Elizabeth Hilton

    I love food tours too. Thank you for the recommendation. Looks delicious.

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