Once you settle into your apartment, you'll want to get to know your neighborhood and locate any supermarkets. Buying and cooking your own food is cheap and good. But if you want to eat out, it's very hard to not eat well in Rome. However, eating out can be expensive, especially with a weak dollar relative to the euro. Below are some suggestions for low-cost eating out.
Rome is full of pizzerias, and the pizza is good because of the crispness of the dough, flavor of the tomato sauce, and freshness of the mozzarella (unlike anything you've had in the USA). There will be a pizzeria near you, no matter where you are! Many pizzerias also serve pasta and other dishes (like a trattoria or osteria, see below). Some of the more famous (yet inexpensive) pizzerias: Da Baffetto and Est Est Est. A round pizza will cost between 5-10 euros.
(Almacri) Ristorante Pizzeria: This is a 5 euro restaurant that we went to a lot. Everything on the menu is 5 euros and the food is delicious! The address is Via Francesco Benaglia, 3/5/7 in Trastevere.
- Jen, Math in Rome '09
Kebab is roasted lamb in a pita bread, and while not really Italian per se, it is quite popular in Rome. One of the best places: Planet Kebab in Trastevere.
A paninoteca is a place where you can get a panino (sandwich), which will cost a few euros. You can also go to a salumeria, which is a delicatessen (and they will make you a panino). For great panini (plural for panino), check out Aristocampo (Campo dei Fiori).
This is a buffet-style restaurant. Just point to what you want - pasta, meat, vegetables, etc. - and they'll put it on a plate for you. Expect to pay about 10 euros for a good meal.
These are informal sit-down restaurants where you can order classical Roman dishes such as spaghetti, gnocchi (pronounced nyoh-kee) and lasagna. Expect to pay 10-20 euros.
These are pastry shops. Walk in and feast your eyes on the most delectable pastries. Just point to what you want. Generally, you can also order an espresso or cappuccino. A heavenly experience.
Il Maritozzaro: This is a pastry place that we went to a couple of times. Go between 12 and 1am when the pastries are fresh. The address is 50 Via Ettore Rolli, Trastevere.
-Jen, Math in Rome '09
Rome is full of "bars" (what we call a cafe, Italians call a bar) on just about every street corner. If you order an espresso or cappuccino, get it at the counter, and it will cost you only 1 or 2 euros. If you want to sit at a table and be served, expect to be charged double or triple (or more). Best espresso: Caffe Sant' Eustacchio and Tazza D' Oro (both near the Pantheon).
Like pizza, Rome is full of places that sell gelato; such a place is called a gelateria. The gelato is great, and nothing like anything you've had in the US. Some of the better places: Giolitti (near the Pantheon) and Fior di Luna in Trastevere.
At an outdoor trattoria/pizzeria
Spaghetti alla Carbonara