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CHEAP EATS ROME

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I am new to this forum and I find it an amazing place to research the cuisine and restaurants of Rome and Italy. What a wealth of fantastic information here. The discussion is literate and informed and beats anything I've yet to find on the net anywhere else when it comes to food. It also seems dominated by those who have managed to make some money in their time, and are able to travel and eat pretty much anywhere without regard to cost or budget. That must be a wonderful luxury. But it is not mine.

I have rented an apt in Rome for the month of Sept. I do not have a lot of money. But I have a modest amount. I will need to watch it and budget carefully. The apt is near P. Popolo. I did not pick the place for the location, as it seems to be among the more expensive neighborhoods of central Rome. But it was a steal that I couldn't pass up, and looks charming and has a terrace and so I chose it.

My challenge is to find restaurants that serve authentic freshly prepared regional Roman and Italian food that are not tourist traps and also not high end break the bank experiences. I live in San Francisco and while there are plenty of super duper expensive restaurants here, there are also, if one knows about them, plenty of great restaurants that are either dirt cheap or very reasonably priced. There must be trattorias and enotecas and cafes and pizzerias in Rome that offer great meals at affordable prices.

Any recommendations or suggestions (including grocery shopping!!) would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Michealdempsey,

    I've enjoyed eating at the varied and generous lunch buffet at Il Margutta on via Margutta for 15 euros. If sometimes your main meal of the day is lunch, it will fill you up without breaking your budget.

    I'll also point out that if you take a short walk across the Tiber to the via Cola di Rienzo, you'll have your choice of two highly regarded gastronomie, Castroni and Franchi.

    3 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      Thank you so much for taking the time to offer these suggestions. I will definitely check them out.

      1. re: barberinibee

        You're right, not an easy neighborhood to find cheap and cheerful! But Rome is very small, and you can easily get to other places.
        Since you're in a apartment, then I would certainly suggest getting yourself to one of the Saturday Farmers' Markets in town. There is one on Via San Teordoro, near Circo Massimo and another in the Testaccio neighborhood. There you can stock up not only on produce, but great, local cheeses, cured meats etc (and much cheaper than the places on Colle di Rienzo).
        Also, you'll find that a lot of the more expensive restaurants (like L'Asino d'Oro, Urbana 47,) have less expensive lunch menus. So save your blow outs for lunch.
        For dinner be adventurous and go to some of the best pizza places a bit out of the center, like Gatta Mangiona or Sforno.
        An inexpensive lunch places in Testaccio is Volpetti Piu. One of the best tavola caldas in town, run by the same family that runs Volpetti.
        Rosticerri' is another tavola calda, but more expensive. they have two locations, one in Testaccio and one near Piazza Navona. Not cheap, but truly high quality and run by the same owner as one of Rome's best restaurants, La Rosetta. So, in a sense, quite a deal! At both of these places you can either eat in, or take out.
        And of course don't miss Pizzarium or 00100, much talked about on these threads.
        Have a great trip!!
        Elizabeth
        _______
        www.elizabethminchilli.com

        -----
        Volpetti Piu
        Via A. Volta, 8-10, Rome, Lazio , IT

        La Rosetta
        Via della Rosetta, 9, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

        Pizzarium
        Via della Meloria, 43, Rome, Lazio 00136, IT

        Sforno
        Via Statilio Ottato, 110, Rome, Lazio , IT

        Urbana 47
        Via Urbana, 47, Rome, Lazio 00184, IT

        L'Asino d'Oro
        Via del Boschetto 73, Rome, Lazio 00184, IT

        1. re: minchilli

          All great suggestions Elizabeth. I'm making a note of all of them. The markets will be a must for our nights eating in. Thank you thank you!

      2. Some suggestions for Trastevere that are quite moderately priced and that have good food:

        Da Lucia
        Augusto
        Da Enzo
        Da Olindo

        -----
        Da Enzo
        via dei Vascellari 29, Rome , IT

        Da Olindo
        Vicolo della Scala, 8, Rome , IT

        1 Reply
        1. re: jostber

          Many thanks for this list. I very much appreciate your suggestions and will investigate them in Trastevere.

        2. Hi Michael:
          Not in your neighbourhood, but if you want cheap eats head towards the university, La Sapienza, which is in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood. Lots of cheap and cheerful places off Tiburtina. One that I have mentioned in a couple of posts: Da Franco ar Vicoletto, Via dei Falisci 1/b; seafood, very local-- about 25E for three courses including wine, water, coperto. If that is still too steep, you'll find an array of options in this area. They can't rely on tourist traffic around here so they keep the students happy with low prices and satisfying food.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sinjawns

            Thanks Sinjawns for your helpful reply. 25E not too steep so thank you for the Da Franco ar Vicoletto suggestion.

          2. Michael, you dont say where your apartment is vis a vis Piazza del Popolo. N of the Piazza is the Flaminia neighborhood and across the Tiber Prati, both relatively bourgeois and with shopping and eating options (I think some of the options for Prati have been mentioned..

            3 Replies
            1. re: jen kalb

              The apt. I rented is on Via Della Penna, across the street from hotel Locarno. I am not familiar with the Flaminia neighborhood so on this trip I will definitely be checking that area out. Thank you for your suggestions.

              1. re: michaeldempsey

                I stuck that address into the Restaurant search and here is the map and list that resulted.

                http://www.chow.com/search?query=&amp...

                Some items just outside the gate on via Flaminia appear. In his book on Italy for the Gourmet Traveller, Fred Plotkin recommends a shopping and eating stroll on that strip to get a feel for local Roman food shopping- Castroni and Antico Enoteca Beccaria and the Mercate Rione (local public market) are all on that strip as wll as other places he recommends that I couldnt verify online - Caffe/Bar Durante, Via Flaminia 101-103, Hostaria Elio at cor of Via Flaminia and Via Pasquale Stanislop Mancini, Bucci Alimentari, Via Flaminia,44 and Al Giardino delle Primizie, Via Flaminia 50A

                -----
                Castroni Milledelizie
                Via Flaminia,28-32, Rome, Lazio 00197, IT

                Antica Enoteca Beccaria
                Via Cesare Beccaria,14, Rome, Lazio 00196, IT

                Flaminia Mercato Rionale
                Via Flaminia,60-62, Rome, Lazio 00197, IT

                1. re: jen kalb

                  This is fantastic info., and, being new here, I was not aware of that search feature so thanks for that tip. I'm intrigued by the Flaminia area and the chance to dive into a real Roman food shopping experience in a neighborhood not as widely trafficked by tourists, and so close by to my apt. Will definitely check out the Mercate Rione, and these other excellent ideas. Thank you Jen!

            2. Having just returned from a one week stay in Rome --on which I filed a fairly long dining report here -- let me give you a few tips you might find helpful.

              First, get the best map(s) you can find. Your apartment is very close to the Flaminia metro stop, Use the subway regularly. It is inexpensive and fast. The Testaccio market is some distance away from your apartment, but a quick and easy trip on the metro for E1.

              Second, for destinations not close to a metro stop, go to the website for the transportation system, ATAC. I believe it is www.atac.roma.it. It will tell which bus(es) to take from point A to point B. A ride of 75 minutes or less, including transfers, will also cost you E1. Point your mouse to the little Italiano sign on the upper right hand corner and it gives you the option of instructions in English. Also, if you are taking a computer with you use Google Maps to pinpoint locations.

              Third, while you have already received some great suggestions, keep re-researching previous comments on this board for relevant tips, Search on items like pizza al taglio, porchetta, panini and tramezzini for delicious and inexpensive feeds.

              With a month, you will become quite familiar with Rome. Some further research in the months before your trip will help you hit the ground running.
              Pizzarium, mentioned above, is three stops and less than 10 minutes from you on the A line. Emerge from the Cipro exit, turn left, walk 50 yards to the next corner and you are there. 00100 looks like a 10 minute walk from the Piramide station in Testaccio on the B line.

              You are no doubt right that many travelers--and perhaps some residents--who post on this board may not share your concerns about the cost of dining and may also rarely wander far afield from the Centro area. Who knows what delightful dining bargains are available at the farther reaches of the metro lines? Someone does.

              -----
              Pizzarium
              Via della Meloria, 43, Rome, Lazio 00136, IT

              5 Replies
              1. re: sernoff

                You have to realize that the people who post about food in Rome are for the most part either visitors to Rome with average to deep pockets anxious to experience the best that Rome has to offer, from trattoria-type to very high-end dining, or self-employed expats who think little of blowing on a single lunch an amount that would feed an average Roman family for several days. Neither category is likely to know - or if they know, to approve - places frequented by wage-earning locals. Some of those places are truly awful, but some are quite reputable. A reputable one that has been dissed by expat posters is Osteria dell'Angelo, near the Ottaviano Metro, where a full meal costs 25 Euro. Another is Enoteca Corsi, near the Pantheon and in the same price range.

                You should also remember that it's no longer required or expected that you order the full Italian meal from antipasto through dolce. It's not generally done to order just a plate of pasta, but many Italians order two, maybe three courses. It's also possible to share a course, "uno in due", but two people should not order one primo, one secondo and one dolce and share them all.

                Finally, if you're there for a month, it's a good idea to find a place you like and to keep returning to it. You eventually become a regular, and service (and sometimes food as well) improves considerably.

                Sorry. This was meant for the OP, but I clicked on the wrong Reply.

                1. re: zerlina

                  Zerlina - I really appreciate your comments. I found this most interesting of all:

                  "it's no longer required or expected that you order the full Italian meal from antipasto through dolce"

                  I LOVE eating the full Italian meal and on my past trips, I usually did eat that way, but I was only there a week at a time so cost was not an issue as much as it will be this time staying a full month. We will not be the ugly Americans ordering as little as possible and sharing everything. Our appetites are greater than that!!! But your comment about this is comforting to know...that this is not expected, and if not going the full route will not bring great disapproval upon us.

                  Your suggestion to become a repeat customer is a GREAT idea and will plan to find those special places to return to. Thanks for this post.

                  1. re: zerlina

                    as a self-employed and very food interested expat, I do go to the more expensive places every once in a while, but 90% of our dining out is still in the 25 euros per person range, which can be had in many of the places mentioned on this board with some strategical ordering (like zerlina suggests and is done very often). I admit it is easier to do when two are eating out than alone.
                    By the way, 25 euros per person are still a lot of money for a wage earning local (seems like around 1000/1200 are the monthly wages for a lot of our friends with "normal" jobs) and my wage earning local friends won't go to these places very often. They either go out for a 10 euro per person pizza dinner or to a birreria or to an aperitivo or sometimes to some of the excellent 12-13 euro lunch menus (for example at L'asino d'oro). Very nice lunches can be had with pizza al taglio or panini or suppli for under 5 euros or if one wants to sit, for under 10 euros at a tavola calda.

                  2. re: sernoff

                    That ATAC-ROMA link is wonderful, it works just like the one I use at home so thanks for directing me to that. I like your idea to "keep re-researching" previous comments here, and I will. Yes I plan to wander out to those futher reaches in search of the great budget Roman meal. Report to follow in the Fall. Thank you Sernoff.

                    1. re: michaeldempsey

                      http://www.parlafood.com/tipping-in-i...

                      Michael: You are most welcome. The above link on tipping customs in Italy may also be of interest. Any money you can appropriately save based on different customs in Italy than apply in the U.S. can enhance your dining budget.

                      As a retiree, I had lots of time to prepare for our short trip with online research. I offer a few places that we did not get a chance to visit for your further research on this board and on Google. Er bruchetto, Via del Viminale 20 (near Repubblica metro) for porchetta; Aristocampo for porchetta and Forno Campo di Fiori for white pizza al taglio (both at Campo di Fiori); Lo Zozzone, Via del Teatro Pace 32 for panini and pizza (near Piazza Navona); Dal Cavalier Gino, Vicolo Rossini 4 (near Pantheon) and Da Gianni Cacio e Pepe, Via Avezzana 11 (a short walk from your apartment). These are in addition to the two places the far more knowledgable Zerlina referenced, which were also on my list. Look em up! I am certain I found most, if not all, referenced in comments on this site. Over and out.

                  3. Another strategy is to average out your meals. If you have half of them for 10 Euro (panini, pizza al taglio, pizza), you can go to 40 Euro for the other half, which would not only greatly broaden the possibilities but also improve the quality.

                    Sernoff's list had most of the usual suspects in the mid-price range as well as some more expensive options:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770018

                    This Web site (in Italian) has fairly reliable price indications: http://www.ilmangelo.it/