Rome is full of good restaurants, many in attractive settings, particularly when you sit outside in the evening. No one location can be recommended to search for a good restaurant: some of the best places to eat are in the most unpromising locations while well-situated restaurants can often live on their reputation rather than the quality of their food. Restaurants in guidebooks can be good but prices can be inflated because it is more than likely a "tourist trap". To find an authentic restaurant that won't break the bank, try to find a place in a more residential area or somewhere that isn't in the middle of the tourist locations.
Many of the good restaurants in Rome are hard to find, but a good tip is to go where Italians live and eat. On the top of the green, old mountain (Monte Verde Vecchio) there are some trattorias with authentic Italian cuisine at an affordable price. Rome also has many beautiful spots to eat, so buying some delicacies to make up a picnic can be a great experience. In Via Marmorata you find Volpetti's which is known for its amazing selection of cheese, prosciutto and delicous pastries (and also for its prices!). A more affordable choice is to go to a local supermarket which will also have good fresh foods for lunch.
Most pizza restaurants serve it only in the evening. Try some of the fried things like baccala (battered salt cod) for a starter, followed by a pizza for a really Roman meal. Roman pizzas tend to be very thin crusted. Avoid the tourist areas where you'll often pay double the going rate just to get a badly reheated frozen pizza. Your best bet is to cross the river and find a restaurant in Trastevere--the food is authentic and a lot cheaper than in the rest of downtown Rome. Make sure you eat it with a fork and knife; Romans don't eat this kind of pizza with their hands.
Pizza al Taglio is pizza with a thicker crust, cooked in a large pan. This is served by the piece, usually to take away, and is a good cheap way to get something to fill you up. Point to the one you want, indicate if you want more or less than your server is indicating with the knife. It's sold by weight (the listed price is usually per 100 g, known as an etto, short for ettogrammo, i.e. hectogramm). This kind of pizza is eaten with the slices stacked on top of each other like a sandwich.
Look for a gelateria. Remember that it usually costs extra to sit inside. You pay for your ice cream first...take your receipt and go fight your way through the throng to choose your flavors (Italians don't believe in lines). You will be asked "Panna?" when it's almost made - this is the offer of whipped cream on top. If you've already paid, this is free.
There are a few signs to keep in mind: "Produzione Propria" (homemade - our own production), "Nostra Produzione" (our production), "Produzione Artigianale" (production by craftsmen). If the colors seem dull and almost ugly it is probably natural, the bright colors being just a mix. Keep in mind, Italians usually won't queue, but if they are in line for gelato, get in line yourself: you may have hit the jackpot. Producers to try include Gelato di San Crispino ; Giolitti ; and Fassi .
Vegetarians should have an easy time. Buffets in many restaurants usually have a good range of delicious vegetarian stuff - e.g. gratinated roast peppers/aubergines, etc. Vegans should do all right too; pizzas don't always have cheese - a Marinara for example, is just tomato, garlic and oregano.
While there is not much choice, at least Rome's Kosher cooking is truly excellent. Try La Taverna del Ghetto in the heart of the Jewish Quarter.
More places can be found near the synagogue in via Padova, close to the "La Sapienza" university and the Bologna underground station.
You can get cheap food in Rome, the problem is that if you don't know the city well or are forced to eat out in the centre, the prices go up.
Chinese restaurants are still quite cheap but other ethnic restaurants (Thai, Indian) are generally expensive (think €30 upwards per person). Sushi is very expensive (€40 minimum per person).
Waiters have been known to take advantage of patrons by bringing more expensive items than what was ordered or asking for a tip although it's not mandatory and should be included in the price by law.
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