Rome pasta dishes you’ll love + how to make them at home

by marta
pasta carbonara on white plate

Rome pasta dishes to try while in Rome, best Rome restaurants for each and easy to follow recipes to replicate them at home

Rome cuisine is famous for many specialties ranging from appetizers to meat. However, it is pasta the real star of the Rome culinary show.

Rome is the home of tasty, warming and world famous pasta dishes and fabulous restaurant where to try them.

In this article, I will share the most famous Rome pasta dishes to seek out in Rome, the best restaurants where to taste each and east to follow recipes to bring real Rome pasta flavors to your dinner table, no matter where you are.

Rome pasta dishes chart

Name of Pasta DishMain ingredients for the sauceVegetarian/Vegan
CarbonaraEggs, cheese, porkNo
Cacio e pepeCheese, black pepperVegetarian (uses cheese)
AmatricianaTomatoes, pork, cheeseNo
GriciaCheese, porkNo

The main ingredients of Rome pasta dishes

As you can see from the table above, the ingredients of all typical pasta dishes from Rome tend to repeat themselves and include mainly two items: pecorino romano (aka: cacio) and guanciale, combined in several ways for a variety of results.

Pecornino Romano or Cacio – pecorino romano or cacio is a type of cheese from Lazio, the region of Rome.

The name pecorino gives away the fact that this is a sheep cheese (pecora= sheep) and this is a salty, crumbly cheese with a history so long, it seems to date back to ancient Roman times.

Pecorino is commonly used especially as a grating cheese and it is in origin a poor ingredient with roots in the kitchens of the shepherds of Lazio now loved by foodies worldwide.

If you cannot get hold of pecorino, you can sometimes replace it with parmesan instead. However, both the taste and the consistency of the sauce will be affected, especially in cacio e pepe (see below), so this substitution is only recommended if you have no other choice

Guanciale  – Guanciale is meat, specifically the cheek/ jaw of the pig.

It is a cut of meat particularly dear to Rome cuisine and it is usually cured with salt, pepper and herbs, that make it rather tastier than the other cut it is usually compared to: pancetta.

While similar in some respects, pancetta comes from the belly of the pig rather than the cheek and it is cured rather differently.

Guanciale is not often easy to find abroad and, in that case, sweet pancetta is often a decent substitution: I find bacon, on the other hand, does not work.

5 Rome pasta dishes to try in Rome and back home

Pasta dishes from Rome you will love (with recipes)

What pasta shapes for Rome pasta dishes

Rome pasta dishes usually are served with a specific pasta format however, the rules are not necessarily very strict

Spaghetti are a good choice for all the dishes on this list

Rigatoni are a good choice with Amatriciana and Gricia

Bucatini are perfect for all these dishes and the most local of all pasta shapes for the Rome area, being especially popular in Lazio

Short shape pasta is usually not ideal with carbonara although some chefs are able to now make it work. This is however not something I recommend at home as the risk of messing up your dish is high – if in doubt, spaghetti is good!

What to serve with these pasta dishes from Rome

The traditional Italian meal structure foresees a starter, a pasta dish, a meat or fish course, and side dish, usually sauteed vegetables.

You don’t need to create a full banquet to accompany your Rome pasta endeavor however, if you want to keep the theme going, there are some ideas:

Roman Appertizer – such as Rome style artichokes or deep fried artichokes ‘jewish style’ (Carciofi alla Giudia)

Meat course – saltimbocca alla romana (veal saltibocca)

Side – sauteed chicory

I hope you enjoyed this overview of the 4 pasta dishes that are traditional in Rome and it inspired you to try them in Rome and at home. Buon appetito!

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