Saturday, August 9, 2014

Rome on a Budget: Inexpensive Meals

"The best things in life are free.  The second best things are very, very expensive." Coco Chanel

When there's a will, there's a way; and there is certainly a way to visit Rome without spending a fortune, at least on meals.  Here I'll give you some insider's tips on how to plan your Roman vacation ...on a budget.

Pizza Al Taglio
I'm sure one of the "must eat" items on your list is pizza.  Pizza in Rome is a must, even though it is very different to what you have probably tried outside of Italy.  Roman pizza has a thin crust and the budget-friendly way to eat it is "al taglio". What does that mean?  By the cut.  There are chains (like "Alice") or just small places where they have the oval pizzas on display.  They put out several flavors and you pick yours and pay by weight.  Most likely the server will have a pair of scissors and will point to what is a normal portion.  Use hand signals to express you want a bigger or smaller piece and  they'll make the cut where you indicate.  A regular portion of Pizza Margherita (cheese pizza) goes for around 4 euros.

A "panino" is a sandwich, but again, it's somewhat different to an American sandwich.  In Italy, they don't really mix lunch meats.  You can find a salami and cheese panino or a mortadela panino, but you will not find a salami/mortadela/turkey-ham panino piled up with sauces. A nice panino will set you back around 4 euro.

Tavola Calda
Tavola Calda literally means "hot table".  These cafeteria-style eateries are all around Rome and they offer home made meals and pizza by the slice.   They normally have a sitting area but you can also ask for your meal to go.  

Lunch Buffets
Many places around office buildings offer a lunch buffet that normally goes around 10-12 euro per person.  Some include wine.  A couple of my favorites downtown are Gusto, located at Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9, Roma 00186, and Elle Ristorante located at Via Vittorio Veneto 8, Roma 00187  Note: In some lunch buffets you are only allowed to serve yourself once.

Of course you have to enjoy a nice meal at a nice restaurant too.  Just stay away from the ones that say "Menu Turistico" or "Tourist Menu" and you'll be alright.  Enjoy eating in Rome and "Mangia, mangia!" (eat, eat!).  Do you know of a great and inexpensive restaurant in Rome?  Let us hear about it!

Until the next time.

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