Italian cuisine is very regional, and though you might see dishes like ragù alla bolognese (the typical meat sauce that hails from Bologna) on restaurant menus, stick to Roman dishes. Traditionally dubbed la cucina povera, Roman specialties tend to be simple, with a few ingredients prepared using tried-and-true methods.
Typical appetizers include fried artichokes, fried salt cod filets, and plenty of cheese and salumi. The most classic Roman pastas are bucatini all’amatriciana, a spicy tomato sauce with peperoncino, guanciale (pig’s cheek), and pecorino romano; spaghetti alla carbonara, a creamy sauce made with raw egg yolk, black pepper, guanciale, and pecorino romano; and tagliatelle cacio e pepe, a winning combination of pecorino romano and black pepper.
To try these dishes in a typical no frills Roman trattoria, head to La Carbonara in Monti. For fine dining with avant-garde takes on Rome’s traditional dishes, go to the Michelin-starred Ristorante All’Oro.