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Jan 10, 2012 06:38 AM

Trastevere Restaurants

Need ideas of inexpensive light meals like soups and salads for student daughter now living in Trastevere and has a limited food budget. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Is the emphasis on light or on inexpensive? Soup-and-salad places aren't really a Roman thing, but there's a chain called L'Insalata Ricca that does that sort of thing; it has two locations in Trastevere. Take-out pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) is inexpensive; there are three good places just across the Tiber: on Via Florida, Via dei Chiavari and Campo dei Fiori. Almost every grocery will make up an inexpensive panino. A pasta dish and a glass of wine will not cost much in many trattorias. Italians will almost always have more, but Trastevere has a large foreign-student population, and many trattorias there will be used to them. If she wants to cut down on expenses, she should order wine or water. Soft drinks and beer will almost always cost more. If she wants Coke, she should buy it in a supermarket and drink it at home.

    3 Replies
    1. re: zerlina

      Thank you Zerlina for your prompt and helpful reply. The emphasis is more on light than expensive although she is on a budget. If she could find a bowl of bean soup and a piece of bread she'd be in heaven. She doesn't drink alcohol, and she loves her grilled vegetables although she's far from a vegetarian. The last thing she'd want to do though is to feel compelled to sit down and order multiple courses for a meal. She doesn't eat like that at home and her appetite is light. Thank you for your suggestion of L'Insalata Ricca. That might be perfect; I'll look for where their location is relative to her flat in Trastevere. If you can think of a place that serves delicious bean soup or minestrone, something like that, and would not expect her to order more than and perhaps a dessert, that would be so helpful. Thanks again.

      1. re: hungry helga

        It's a different food culture, and as I said, soup-and-salad places are not a Roman thing. *Only* a bowl of soup is pushing it, even in trattorias used to American students abroad. A full-service restaurant, which a trattoria is, can't survive if it serves clients only a bowl of soup. Relatively few Italians order a full, multi-course Italian meal on a daily basis, but they'll order at least two courses, one of which will be a pasta or a secondo. Two people can even share one course (uno in due) but not both. Many restaurants, including L'Insalata Ricca, only have a soup of the day. Some restaurants have mixed grilled vegetables as an antipasto (served before soup); some have grilled vegetables (only one kind per order) as a contorno (which accompanies a secondo). Only soup would be acceptable at something called a tavola calda, which is like a self-service cafeteria. Again, there would only be one soup or maybe two, and I don't know of one in Trastevere. Most supermarkets have a deli section with prepared food for take out; I haven't seen soup or grilled vegetables, though. Maybe your daughter will have to expand her horizons a little. Parmigiana alle melanzane is vegetarian and much lighter than most eggplant parmesan in the US. If she's still there when peas come into season, vignarola is artichokes, peas and fava beans, somewhere between a soup and a stew; some restaurants also make it out of season, with frozen peas and beans. If bread is acceptable, maybe pizza al taglio is: pizza bianca comes in various vegetarian versions; pizza rossa (with tomato) is generally thin-crust.

      2. re: zerlina

        As Zerlina pointed out, soup and salad are not a 'thing' in Italy.

        But a good stop would be at Roscioli Bakery, on Via dei Chiavari. They have a tavola calda which offers lots of lighter alternatives, including tons of veggies. She can either eat at the counter, or take away.

        And if she's willing to go further afield, have her try Conter, on Via Merulana near San Giovanni. It's a very non-Italian place, inexpensive, and they always have soups and salads. I love it for lunch.