One of my favorite ways to experience a city is through its food, and Rome is the foodie city of dreams, but it can be a tough place to navigate as a first-time visitor, that’s why I stubbornly kept coming back, time after time, and after many visits to this gorgeous city, lots of research, and the help of a Roman friend, I have compiled this extensive list of the best restaurants, cafes, and bars to visit to eat cheap in Rome and have incredible meals every single time, all organized by neighborhood for easier navigation.
I had been obsessed with Rome even before I ever visited, I always dreamt of all the tasty pizza, the fresh pasta, and the authentic mozzarella di Bufala that I would eat when I finally made it here, but on my first trip to Rome, all I got was overpriced bland pizza, chewy questionable cheese, and very dry tiramisu, and not because Italian food is overrated but because, I had no idea of where to find those amazing Roman meals, so I naively ended up at all the tourist traps—I was determined to never have that happen again.
The next time I visited Rome I was Couchsurfing, I stayed with a lovely local girl that guided me to a bunch of amazing places, like the historic Gelateria Fasi, the locally loved Pompi tiramisu, and Roscioli Bakery, I was starting to get a better taste of the city.
And I just kept coming back again and again, paying close attention to where locals ate, reading lots of blogs by Italians, getting recommendations from a new Roman friend I made through work, and getting tips from another friend’s Roman professors, I was finally starting to understand the city, but it took me many trips and a couple of years in between.
In hopes of saving you all that time and those multiple trips to Rome, here is my list of the best bakeries, cafes, bars, and restaurants to do as the Romans do, and eat cheap in Rome:
Best Places To Eat Cheap In Rome By Neighborhood
Where to eat in Trastevere Rome
Trattoria Da Enzo al 29: Popular and worth it
Trattoria Da Enzo al 29 is a very popular small trattoria serving delicious Roman classics, tucked away in a quiet street of Trastevere.
This cozy trattoria is known for its perfect Cacio e Pepe, but in my opinion, their Amatriciana and Carbonara are as equally deserving of the hype, as well as their fresh mozzarella di bufala, which you will probably not see on the menu, but can locate on the chalkboard—make sure to order it.
Something else that in my opinion is completely underrated from their menu is their tiramisu, which was one of my favorite ones I had in Rome, so do yourself a favor and leave some space for dessert.
Tonnarello: Local-approved Roman dishes
Tonarello was already on my radar due to its overwhelming amount of incredible reviews, however, it was once my Roman friend gave it her seal of approval that I was sold.
Tonnarello is a casual spot in the neighborhood of Trastevere serving traditional Roman dishes, with the star of the show being, of course, their tonnarelli, a traditional Roman pasta that is thicker than spaghetti, and squared shape, and can be served with a variety of sauces.
My friend mentioned that she frequents this place with her family all the time, so if like me, you ever wonder, where do locals eat in Rome? This is one of those places.
Freni e Frizone: Creative cocktails on a patio
Freni e Frizone in Trastevere is one of the best cocktail bars in Rome, with the creative cocktail menu of a speakeasy without the exclusive tight quarters, this inventive cocktail bar offers a spacious outdoor seating area to sip on your carefully crafted drink of choice.
The menu resembles a destinations list, with each cocktail designed to match the vibe of specific neighborhoods of different cities around the world.
I had the Shoreditch cocktail, a sweet and fruity Gin-based concoction with a foam top, served with a shot of prosecco as a chaser, it was delicious!
Supplì Roma: Best place to eat cheap in Rome
One of the easiest ways to eat cheap in Rome is to stop by Supplì in Trastevere to snack on their specialty, the supplì, a popular Roman fried snack.
Supplì is a gooey cheesy fried ball of rice that comes with a variety of fillings and sauces, they can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as a quick snack on the go, they are so satisfying and incredibly affordable, at just around one euro fifty the piece.
Trapizzino Trastevere: Easy and affordable lunch in Rome
If you are looking for where to eat in Trastevere, the local favorite Trapizzino should absolutely be at the top of your list.
A trapizzino is something between a sandwich and a pizza, it’s a bready cone that is stuffed with the filling of your choice, my absolute two favorite ones being the flavorful chicken cacciatore and the melts-in-your-mouth polpetta al sugo.
Trapizzino in Trastevere is a great place to stop for a quick and affordable lunch, and with some outdoor seating area, there’s no need to eat and walk, this location is also conveniently open until 1 am, perfect for grabbing a quick bite after a night out in the neighborhood.
Big Hilda public bar: Cozy bar in a lively street
I feel like the name of this place doesn’t really sell how cute the location actually is, but trust me, this is one of the best bars in Rome for enjoying aperitivo on a terrace on a warm Roman evening and people-watching on one of Trastevere’s most lively streets.
Being located in the heart of the action in Trastevere, this is one of my favorite places to start the evening before heading out for dinner, the vibe is cozy, their salumi and cheese boards are delicious, and they prepare a great negroni!
Caffe del Cinque: Spritz in the heart of Trastevere
Most popular for its picturesque front and all the Instagrammer’s shots of it, Caffe del Cinque is more than just a photo opp, located in the main bar street in Trastevere, this bar is a great spot to grab a spritz on an outdoor table and leisurely watch the world go by.
In true Italian cafe fashion, at Caffe del Cinque you can get a great cappuccino in the morning, as well as a nice cocktail in the evening, loved by locals and tourists alike, this is a great place in Trastevere to stop by at all times of the day.
Where to eat in Esquilino Rome
Regoli Pasticceria: Best breakfast in Rome
Regoli Pasticceria is a Roman staple, this legendary century-old bakery in Esquilino Rome is known for its mouth-watering creme-based pastries, with locals lining up at all times of day, especially on the weekends, to collect the pastries that they will take to their family reunions.
The star of Regoli Pasticceria has to be the maritozzo, an ancient Roman pastry that consists of a sweet bun filled with the lightest whipped cream, a simple yet deliciously unforgettable dish.
If you want to do as Romans do, then you need to head to Regoli Pasticeria and order a maritozzo and a cappuccino for the best breakfast in Rome.
La Famiglia: Locally loved Roman restaurant
The best way to eat cheap in Rome is to eat like the locals do, and luckily I have a few insiders.
La Famiglia is an unassuming restaurant recommended to a friend of mine by her Roman professor, frequented by lots of the local faculty in the area, this straightforward Roman restaurant is always packed.
The place is casual and very local, but the service is still warm and friendly towards foreigners, the pasta portions are massive, the house wine is delicious, and their tiramisu is one of my favorite ones I had in the city, with the biscuit actually tasting like coffee but not soggy at all, just perfect, and all for very reasonable prices.
Definitely a place worth checking out if you are close to Esquilino Rome and want to eat where locals eat in Rome.
Bakery Roscioli Pietro: Good at all times of day
Il Panificio Roscioli is another popular spot in Rome loved by both locals and tourists, and that came highly recommended to me by a Roman friend.
Serving everything from pastries and frothy cappuccinos in the morning to homemade pizza slices, sandwiches, and warm meals during the rest of the day, this is the perfect place to stop at all times of the day to fuel up on a filling but affordable meal.
Just beware of lunch hour when it can get quite crowded, but honestly, standing confused in the middle of a hungry Italian crowd shouting their orders across the counter is part of the Italian experience, so maybe do visit during rush hour for the full experience.
Trapizzino Mercato Centrale: Quick bite in Esquilino Rome
Another convenient location of one of my favorite places to eat cheap in Rome is inside the Mercato Centrale in Esquilino Rome.
The Mercato Centrale is a great place to visit in itself, this artisan food market is packed with tons of interesting food options, but the winner for me still remains the trusty Trapizzino.
Gelateria Fassi: Historic gelato shop in Esquilino Rome
This historic gelato shop in Esquilino Rome has been serving its artisanal gelato since 1880!
The long-standing Gelateria Fassi is known for its extensive menu of delicious all-natural flavors, its airy whipped cream, and its incredibly affordable prices after all this time.
Gelateria Fassi is undoubtedly one of the best gelaterias in Rome, so make sure to add it to your itinerary.
Where to eat in the Historic Center of Rome
Le saline shop: Affordable wine bar with a Colosseum view
A small and very casual wine bar on the lively street of Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano, an LGBTQ-friendly bar street that is located right by the iconic Colosseum, making it one of the best bars in Rome to enjoy a drink with a view without the extra price tag.
One of my top recommendations in the Historic Center of Rome that I learned through one of my local friends.
St’ Eustachio Il Caffè: Historic coffee shop near the Pantheon
St’ Eustachio Il Caffè is one of the most popular cafes in Rome, and for good reason, each drink here is consistently prepared with great attention to detail, making every sip a happy dance experience.
They also offer delicious pastries to accompany your drink of choice, one of my favorites being the cloud-like cream custard-filled Bomboloni.
Get there early in the day to grab a spot on their outside tables (at an extra fee) and experience one of the best breakfasts in Rome, with a gran cappuccino and a bomboloni or two, or come later in the day to fuel up on their delicious Moretto, a cocoa powder topped espresso.
This cafe is a must for me, I have visited it every single time that I have been in Rome, and sometimes even twice a day, it’s so conveniently located, the coffee is amazing, and if you have it at the bar like Italians do, it’s quite affordable.
Terraza Caffarelli in Campidogli: Drinks with a view of the Roman skyline
If you are looking for a great place to have drinks in Rome close to all the action, then Terraza Caffareli is the place to go.
Tucked away behind the Campidoglio, Terraza Caffareli is the best place to go to after a day of exploring the Roman Forum, to fuel up with a cafe, have a snack, or sip on a refreshing cocktail up on their spacious observation deck with views of the warm-toned Roman skyline.
Il Baccanalle: Quick snack by Campo de Fiori
Il Baccanalle is a restaurant located just around the corner from the popular Campo de Fiori, I never tried the restaurant, but the one thing I tried on a random evening strolling around Campo de Fiori was the delicious suppli that they sell on the little stand next to the restaurant.
You will see a window display of many panini ready to go, however, I would say skip the panini—I tried their porchetta one and was not impressed—and order their tasty suppli instead, the perfect snack or lunch on the go while exploring this iconic area of Rome.
Piccolo Buco: Tasty pizza by Fontana di Trevi
If I’m being completely honest Piccolo Buco is not necessarily the cheapest meal in Rome, but I think is worth mentioning, since—to my surprise—this popular pizza spot just a few steps away from the Fontana di Trevi actually lives up to its hype.
The pizzas are small but tasty, with the perfectly risen crust and gooey mozzarella di bufala, I would say they are worth checking out if you are in the area and catch this place without a crazy line.
Biblio Bar Rome: Casual outdoor bar by Castel Sant’ Angelo
A good friend of mine introduced me to the cozy Biblio Bar after having learned about it from her Roman classmates, and it forever changed every trip I have taken to Rome ever since.
This lovely outdoor bar sits along the river bank, offering great views of the Castel Sant’ Angelo as well as of the Parisian-looking shops by the river, at the bar you can get anything from an espresso to a vermouth, a hot tea or an amazing gin and tonic, as well as a variety of snacks, and all at very reasonable prices.
The drinks are great, the location is charming, and the ambiance is so relaxed, with people leisurely strolling by, it’s just the best spot in the city to slow down and romanticize the fact that you are in Rome.
Similar to Sant’ Eustachio Il Cafe this is a place I keep coming back to again and again, even during the same trip, last time in Rome I was there for five days, and we stopped at the Biblio bar at least four times, it’s just such a comfortable place to rest but still feel part of the city.
Gelato Frigidarium: Popular place for chocolate-dipped gelato
Gelato Frigidarium is a popular spot for some of the best gelato in Rome, one of the reasons that they are known is their gelato cones dipped in quick-drying liquid chocolate—kind of like Dairy Queen, but better.
The place tends to have a line but it moves fast, and it is honestly so worth it on a hot summer day. Make sure to try their pistachio and tiramisú gelato, you can taste the coffee and rum in the Tiramisu one, it’s so good!
Pompi Tiramisu: The Tiramisu that Romans love
If you want to do as Romans do, skip the touristy Two Sizes for Tiramisu and head to the local favorite Pompi Tiramisu instead.
One of my favorite Italian desserts is without a doubt the classic tiramisu, I’m obsessed, and when I asked my Roman friend for a recommendation to get the most authentic one in Rome, she unflinchingly directed me to Pompi Tiramisu.
Similar to the maritozzi in Regoli Pasticceria, Pompi tiramisu is a place that locals will frequent to get a tiramisu to take with them for their family reunions, and if that’s not the ultimate Italian stamp of approval, I don’t know what is.
At Pompi Tiramisu you can buy a full portion to take to a gathering, or you can also get an individual portion, conveniently pre-packed in a little box, served with a tiny spoon for you to immediately dig into.
My favorite thing to do is to get my little tiramisu box and go sit at the closest plaza to enjoy it in a very Julia-Roberts-in-Eat-Pray-Love style.
All’Antico Vinaio: THE best panino ever.
I first tried All’antico Vinaio while visiting Florence for the first time back in 2018, and ever since, I have been hooked! I was convinced then and there that this was the best panino I had ever had in my life, and I was not wrong.
So when their name popped up on my Google Maps while looking for food in Rome, I ran to the location to see if it was exactly the same company, and it is! The decadent Florentine panini can now be found in Rome, and they are just as good as they are in their native Firenze.
My go-to order is their flavorful panino”El Jefe”, a generous amount of prosciutto, pecorino cheese, arugula, and their addictive truffle cream—just insane, I can’t even describe how good this is.
One of my absolute favorite meals ever, and what is even better with the panini being all under 10 euros, All’Antico Vinaio is a great place to eat cheap in Rome and have the best panino of your life.
Gelateria La Romana: The creamiest gelato
Another stellar recommendation by my Roman friend is the Gelateria La Romana, a gelato shop born in Rome in 1947 that offers a limited but mouth-watering variety of flavors.
The locally loved gelateria has some of the creamiest gelato I had in Rome, even the whipped cream they top the ice cream with was noticeably better than in other places, the service is friendly, and you can add whipped cream or melted chocolate to your gelato at no extra cost.
Definitely, one of the best gelato in Rome, if you don’t believe me check out the Google reviews of any of their locations.
I Pizzicaroli Piazza Navona: Rustic wine bar with amazing cheese and salami platters
I adore Piazza Navona, however, most of the restaurants on the plaza seem like overpriced mediocre tourist traps, which is why I was so happy when I found I Pizzicaroli just around the corner.
I Pizzicaroli is a rustic wine bar and restaurant offering delicious and well-curated salami and cheese platters in a quiet street, just a few steps away from the busy Piazza Navona.
Their menu offers a variety of set combinations of meats, cheeses, bruschettas, and jams served on a basket to share, I can’t remember exactly which one we picked but we devoured everything on that basket, it was incredible!
Definitely recommend it for a tasty aperitivo around Piazza Navona.
La Salumeria: Salami and cheese platters, and gourmet sandwiches
La Salumeria is another great option in the Historic Center of Rome for enjoying tasty boards of salami, cheese, and jams, or if you would prefer something to go, they also use all their delicious ingredients to create all kinds of gourmet sandwiches.
A great way to eat cheap in Rome, be time efficient, and make an experience out of it, is to come here to pick up a sandwich and have a picnic at the edge of the Tiber River which is just around the corner—definitely a main character moment.
Where to eat in Pigneto Rome
Pezzotti Gelateria: Breakfast in Pigneto
On my longest visit to the Eternal City, I stayed with a friend of mine that was living in Pigneto Rome, and during the month that I was there, this little multifaceted gelateria around the corner from the apartment became one of our favorite spots to grab breakfast in the morning.
We spent so many mornings sipping cappuccinos accompanied by chocolate cornettos on their terrace and coming back in the afternoon for a little espresso or a spritz, a quaint little local place to stop by if you are in the area.
BORDO | La pizzeria del Pigneto: Incredible Neapolitan-style pizza
Bordo la Pizzeria del Pigneto is another great spot to eat cheap in Rome and still have an incredible meal.
This Pigneto pizzeria was just opening when I first visited but it was clear that it was quickly gaining popularity in the area due to its delicious pizzas at incredible prices, its tasty suppli, and its cozy patio ambiance.
The place is super casual, with both local and international students from the area gathering here in the evenings to enjoy an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza and a beer.
Definitely a place worth checking out if you are in Pigneto Rome.
Kalapa: Delicious Greek street food
If you get to the point where you cannot even look at another plate of pasta, it’s time to head to Pigneto Rome, the up-and-coming neighborhood full of students, and lots of international food options such as the popular Greek restaurant Kalapa.
Kalapa is a modern but casual Greek restaurant that keeps the students in the area fed with delicious gyros, baked potatoes, fresh Greek salads, and more, all for very affordable prices, which is why this place is a favorite among students looking to eat cheap in Rome.
Mezzo Vermutería: Vermouths and inventive cocktails in Pigneto Rome
Mezzo Vermuteria is located in the lively street Via del Pigneto and offers a very extensive list of vermouths, as well as vermouth-based cocktails and other creative alcoholic concoctions.
The vibe is very relaxed, with outdoor tables where you can sit and sip on one of their incredible negronis as you watch the street come alive in the evening.
And with that, we have arrived at the end of my very humble list of the best restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and bars to visit to eat cheap in Rome, or just enjoy a nice drink.
I really hope this list helps you conquer that Roman food scene better than I did on my first trip there. Please do let me know if you end up visiting any of my recommendations, I would love to know!
If you are a foodie like me and are planning your European adventure, here I have another extensive foodie guide that might interest you; Where to eat in Barcelona: Best restaurants, cafes, and bars.