How to Eat in Rome on the Cheap

by Nancy Wagner ; Updated July 27, 2017

Rome is a gastronomic delight, with practically every corner of the city featuring a trattoria or restaurant with an enticing menu. Enjoying all that delicious food on a budget is easy.

Aperitivo

Rome is filled with bars that offer aperitivo, the equivalent of happy hour. Buy one drink, and you can enjoy whatever the bar is offering on its free buffet that night, says The Roman Food Tour, a tour company that offers food tours of the city. Most aperitivos run from 6 to 9 p.m., so you can dine super-cheap for your evening meal. Try Freni and Frizoni where a glass of wine gives you access to an extensive buffet from 7 to 10 p.m, says Lonely Planet, travel guide publishers.

Make a Picnic

Head to one of Rome's famous markets where you can pick up everything you can dream of to make a picnic, including fruit, fresh baked bread, sliced meats, cheese and wine. Go to Campo de' Fiori market on the Piazza Campo de' Fiori, pick up supplies, then head to the nearby Piazza Navona to eat lunch and people watch. Another market to visit is the Mercato Piazza Vittorio, located near the Vittorio Emanuele train station, where you'll find cheap produce and lots of interesting foods from around the world.

Tips

  • Save money on bottled water by buying one bottle, then filling it again from the fresh water available for free from the fountains scattered around the city, suggests The Roman Food Tour.

Stand Versus Sitting

Eat standing at the bar rather than sitting at a table where the price of the food doubles, says author and travel expert Rick Steves, in his 2014 book, Rick Steves Rome 2014. First examine the price list to find out food and beverage prices for the bar and for table service, then decide if your budget allows you to sit or stand.

Tipping

Because waiters in Rome are often paid a good wage, simply rounding the bill up to the nearest dollar is considered an appropriate way to tip, says Walks of Italy, a tour company.

Groupon

Go to Groupon.it to find restaurant deals that could save you up to 80 percent off the normal price. Before you buy from Groupon, type the restaurant's name into Claio to find out if it's considered a good eat.

Tips

  • If you don't know Italian, be prepared to use Google Translate to read restaurant reviews.

Restaurants

Eating delicious food at a restaurant is not out of the question when you're on a budget –– just plan ahead. For instance, Rome is known for its thin-crust pizza, making the inexpensive Il Baffetto on Via del Governo Vecchio, popular with tourists and locals alike. Head to the Enoteca Corsi wine shop on Via del Gesù, peruse the offerings, then head to the back of the restaurant to try some inexpensive traditional Roman dishes such as osso buco and gnocchi, suggests the editor of Budget Travel in a 2013 article in Huffington Post. Some restaurants, such as L'Asino d'Oro on Via del Boschetto serve less expensive lunches compared to dinner. For instance, L'Asino d'Oro offers a fixed lunch menu of traditional central Italian food that includes three courses and wine, all for $17, says the Huffington Post.

About the Author

Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.