Food and Italy are completely intertwined concepts in the minds of most people, and with good reason. Many regions have their own types of pasta and even their own bread. Dishes that are dear to the hearts of many Romans include carbonara, cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper), a simple but effective pasta dish, and the street food classic of supplì, a crispy rice, tomato and cheese croquette. Roman-style pizza should of course not be forgotten either. It’s all worth trying while you’re in the great city.
Nobody is prouder of Italian food than the Italians themselves, which is why there is no better way to experience the food of Rome than on a locally guided food tour. Better yet, why not take away some of the culinary secrets so that you can apply them at home by taking a Roman food cooking class? Perhaps understandably there are quite a number of food tour and cooking class options in Rome. Here are ten of the very best options available.
From €42/ per person
One of the finest ways to get to know Rome is to take a guided tour that also involves sampling the fantastic street food of the Italian capital city. This two and a half-hour tour does just that. Take in sights like the Pantheon and Largo di Torre Argentina while stopping to sample cured meats, pizza and supplì, washing it all down with locally produced wines and beer. With prior notice, gluten free and vegetarian requirements can also be accommodated on this tour.
From €54/ per person
One of the most important requirements of many Italian people about their pasta is that it must be freshly made. And when you’ve tried authentic pasta in this way, rather than the dried straight-from-the-bag variety, it’ll be difficult to go back. As such, it is best to take away some local knowledge on how to make your own, and this pasta-making experience will help you to do just that. The class takes place in a real pastifico (pasta factory), where you will learn to make various types of pasta, and local Roman sauces to go with them like carbonara and cacio e pepe.
FROM: €79/per person
Throughout the historic centre of Rome there are countless food spots where you can sample authentic Roman fare. Similarly, there are myriad tourist haunts that are over-priced and under-quality. This tour makes sure you enjoy the authentic, with no fewer than ten tastings at restaurants and street food joints sprinkled around the River Tiber. Try calzone, unique pasta dishes like amatriciana, salami and tiramisù, among many other delicacies. The tour lasts 2hrs 30mins and you should most definitely arrive hungry.
From €79/ per person
If you want to combine the two elements of this article – food tours and cooking classes – and you happen to love pizza, then this is probably the tour to beat. While the focus is primarily on the food tastings (as it should be), with cold cuts, Italian wine, cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings wrapped into the itinerary, you will also drop by a Roman pizzeria where you can learn how to make your very own pizzas, so that when you leave Rome, Rome will still live on in your kitchen.
From €68/ per person
It would be wrong to overlook gelato when in Italy. Not only is the climate primed for plenty of ice cream breaks throughout any trip, gelato takes frozen desserts to a whole other level. This tour seeks out of the finest gelatos in town, while also stopping by purveyors of the delicious supplì croquettes, Roman pizza, an Italian cheese board accompanied by a perfect wine pairing, and top it all off in the true Italian way, with an espresso, from a coffee shop that has been around since the 1930s. And if you’ve survived that long on serving coffee, you must be doing something right.
From €106/ per person
When the weekend rolls around, one thing tends to top the ‘to do’ lists of most locals more than any other: eat like royalty. And when in Rome…? You get it, go on a four-hour food tour that also takes in the main sights of the historic centre. This tour comes with a little twist though, it skews towards the Jewish-Roman culinary scene, taking in a Jewish pastry shop, a Kosher restaurant, as well as Roman-style pizza and craft beer, because that’s a craze that is sweeping the globe right now and Rome doesn’t want to feel left out.
From €94/ per person
What happens when a food tour takes you to a local market? Well, usually, you have to lie down afterwards because you’ve eaten too much. This tour, which doesn’t restrict itself to Roman delicacies but explores all of Italy, claims to include no fewer than 18 (!) food tastings, although admittedly no specifics are entered into about portion size. Try homemade cannolo, melanzane alla parmigiana and fresh mozzarella. The tour also stops by a pizzeria that is revered by many, including Anthony Bourdain. There will also be a chance to try three different types of pasta with a wine-pairing and top it all off with some ice cream.
FROM: €179/per person
One of the most frustrating things about the large-group organized tours is that the itinerary is designed to suit the largest proportion of visitors. However, for the vegans and vegetarians of us who can all-too-often feel left out and restricted by food tours, there is a good solution: a private food tour. Sticking to Rome’s Jewish quarter, you can personalize the tour to your own tastes, taking in dishes and wine-pairings while also sampling delicacies like fried courgette (zucchini) blossoms.
From €109/ per person
Rome is a city with a long, proud history. It is also a city with a long proud culinary tradition. This tour aims to combine these two key elements of the city. There are private tours or small-group options available, and the tour takes in a sculpture workshop, the Pantheon and involves the tasting of exquisite meats and cheeses, local pasta dishes like cacio e pepe, and finish it off with two dessert stops: one at a gelato specialist and the other at a chocolate specialist, the latter supposedly being Rome’s oldest chocolatier.
From €120/ per person
If you are really serious about cooking and really want to take some tangible skills home with you from the Italian capital, then it might be worth considering a more in-depth cooking course, like this one. The aim of this four-hour class is to guide you to the preparation of a full, authentic four-course Italian meal, as well as receiving wine-pairing guidance to go with each. It is possible to stipulate in advance whether you’d prefer to cook with meat, fish or vegetarian.