A guide to traditional Roman recipes to have a bite of Rome at home. How to make the perfect carbonara.

Craving a taste of Rome? If you can’t wait till your next trip to Italy, read on to find out more about traditional Italian dishes like carbonara. They’re surprisingly easy to prepare at home!

Traditional Roman dishes

The cuisine in Rome is delicious, but you can forget about your diet…While Roman pizza is lighter than its Neapolitan counterpart, most Roman dishes are seriously filling. Think fried appetizers, rich, cheesy pasta for primi and mouth-watering meat for secondi.

If you want to sample authentic Italian food, start with some Roman classics:

  • Fritti – fried appetizers such as suppli (rice balls with mozzarella, egg and tomato), fiori di zucca (courgette flowers with anchovy and mozzarella) or filetto di baccala (cod). And when in Rome, make sure you go to the Jewish Ghetto for a crispy, golden carciofo alla giudia (fried artichoke).
  • Decadent carbonara and cacio e pepe are the most popular Roman recipes, but we also recommend trying amatriciana (tomato, guanciale and Pecorino cheese). The ultimate comfort food.
  • If you’re an adventurous meat lover, Roman dishes certainly won’t disappoint. Try pajata (calf intestine), trippa (tripe), coda alla vaccinara (oxtail) and saltimbocca (veal with prosciutto).
A guide to traditional Roman recipes to have a bite of Rome at home. How to make the perfect carbonara.
A guide to traditional Roman recipes to have a bite of Rome at home. How to make the perfect carbonara.

Carbonara: one of the most best-loved Italian recipes

Carbonara is the quintessential Roman dish – quick, simple and unpretentious. As it’s so simple, good ingredients are key – try to get your hands on some good quality guanciale, pancetta or fatty bacon. Romans use mostly Pecorino cheese, not Parmesan. And practice makes perfect – as with any recipe, you’ll master the mixture and timing with time…

Carbonara recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients: spaghetti or rigatoni (about 400 gr), guanciale or pancetta (150 gr), 2 eggs plus 2 extra yolks, grated pecorino cheese (50-80 gr), olive oil (optional), black pepper, salt.

Repeat after us: “do not add cream”. The real Roman carbonara does not have cream.

  1. Boil a large pan of water. Cut the guanciale into small strips (removing the hard skin) and cook in a heavy saucepan. If you prefer, you can add a small amount of olive oil to the pan to fry the meat. When the meat turns golden, remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Add salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta. Check the cooking time on the packet; start tasting a couple of minutes before it’s “ready”. The pasta needs to be al dente, so be careful not to overcook.
  3. As the pasta is cooking, beat the eggs, yolks and cheese with black pepper (and a pinch of salt, if you like) and whisk vigorously.
  4. Warm up the pan you used for the meat. Remove some of the strips and put them to one side.
  5. Take a medium cup of pasta cooking water and put to one side. Drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the warm pan and stir until it’s completely coated in the fat from the meat.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the egg mixture and some of the cooking water to the pan and stir vigorously. Put the extra meat in the pan. Keep stirring until it’s soft and creamy. If necessary, add some more of the cooking water and stir again.
  7. The carbonara is ready! Add an extra sprinkling of grated pecorino cheese and black pepper on top of each dish if you like. Serve and eat immediately.

Buon appetito! For more easy Italian recipes in English, check out the articles in the link below.

Read more: A Kitchen in Rome (The Guardian)