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Street food / food carts

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Portland, Oregon...
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Street food / food carts

I would like to consider myself a foodie! In my hometown of Portland, Oregon food carts/trucks is where it's at!!! All the foodies run to the food carts! I'm hoping to have an amazing culinary experience while in Rome. I've been trying to find information on the street food scene in Rome, but haven't had much luck finding information. Can you easily find street food in Rome? Would you recommend eating street food or sticking to the restaurants and markets? We will also be spending time in Florence and Venice. I appreciate any information you can share.

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Street food / food carts

I don't think there is a street food scene like there is in Portland. For some reason, Portland has vacant blocks that can be used for car parking and/or food carts. There are no such vacant areas in Rome (or other European cities): the land is too valuable and it has all been built up for centuries.

The closest equivalent in Europe would be the many restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating on (or next to) the sidewalks.

Passo Corese, Italy
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2. Re: Street food / food carts

My only advice is: when in Rome... do as the Romans do, so don't buy food from the food carts you'll find near major monuments.

Edited: 03 February 2013, 10:08
Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Street food / food carts

Ah yes. There are aluminium caravans parked near some of the major sights, offering such excellent value as a small can of Coke for €4. Avoid.

Rome, Italy
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4. Re: Street food / food carts

The food truck scene is in its infancy in Rome: I'm only aware of one company that's doing it -- Pizza e Mortazza -- operating out of an ape (three-wheeled truck): puntarellarossa.it/2012/…

Alas, that truck is not coming into the historic center. The carts you'll find see there have very overpriced bottles of water or soda, or frozen "treats" (I use that term loosely). Instead, bring a water bottle with you, or buy one from a grocery store your first day, then keep refilling it from the nasoni throughout Rome. Then when you are hungry, get some good Roman food -- but not from the carts! That's not to say you shouldn't try take away pizza, a Roman staple -- make sure to get pizza bianca for lunch from Forno Campo de' Fiori.

pittsburgh
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5. Re: Street food / food carts

You'll find food carts near a lot of sites. These are only mediocre at best. I would avoid them as they are very expensive.

Donna

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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6. Re: Street food / food carts

The Romans themselves like to buy food from Food Carts / Trucks that drive around especially in the evening, and stop at certain squares and places for the late night crowd.

These vendors known (in singular form) as "Porchettaro" (as they mainly sell the "Porchetta from Ariccia" in sandwiches) or "Paninaro" (as besides the Porchetta - which is a roast-pork speciality, and not everyone eats pork - they also sell other things where you can construct your sandwich/panino). You won't find them during the day, and not at the major sites when the tourists are about.

These late-night food vendors, as I said, are very popular with Romans themselves, either during or when ending a night out, as it is seen as something typical and is not particularly expensive.

In Summer they will also be along the seafront in Ostia, catering to the late-night-party-goer-crowd.

I don't think you'll find anything comparable to what you have at home, and like others said, not during the day and not at the sites when those are open to the public.

But, for the evening and late-night ones, when you're in Rome, ask at your hotel/accomodation if they can suggest you a very good "Porchettaro", many Romans will have their favorite ones.

Personally, when I lived there, I absolutely loved the one just across the canal from where I was staying during my last year, living in Fiumicino Town. A Collegue of mine would drive to one that would park in the EUR district at night. Note, that the EUR is a Business district, where many Government Agencies/Offices are located, it's not residental, is practically dead at night and has an almost sci-fi feel to it during the non-office hours. There's absolutely no one there (well ok, it was the meeting place of a "Fast and Furious" like imported/modified car scene and illegal street races for a while, until the National Media and Police cracked down on that), and people would drive there just for those 2-3 food trucks.

But, one does not have to go so far, some will also be along the Lungotevere, and at certain Squares, within Rome proper.

Edited: 03 February 2013, 13:05
New York City, New...
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7. Re: Street food / food carts

NYC too is bursting with amazing, creative food in food trucks (a consequence in part to absurdly high retail rental rates for restaurant space and a poor economy, which is when they all really started to proliferate and with every imaginable ethnic variety and good group (sardines only anyone?). Incredibly good food. I haven't seen anything even remotely like it in Rome.

And, these trucks are not parked at vacant blocks - as, well, we don't have any.

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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8. Re: Street food / food carts

MomCat, I remember during a visit to NYC one evening fairly late, we got off at the wrong subway station, somewhere down near the WTC area. Looked pretty vacant to me at that time of day/night.

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Street food / food carts

StephanieB , definetly do your research on restaurants before going. ESP. In the historic center there are many mediocre tourist traps.

The further away you go from the main monuments and even off the beaten path neighborhoods the better chance you have of finding good food.

New York City, New...
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10. Re: Street food / food carts

Of course, there may be a few vacant lots with no buildings on them - but really, very few and if there are, building is in the plans - this city doesn't have vacant lots - it's one of the reasons we build far up into the sky - no land.

It may not have been busy at a certain time of day/night, if that is what you meant and I do not know when you were last in that area, but the entire area is under construction since 9/11 and especially the past five years - there are a few "empty" spots - but, they don't last long. Something gets torn down with the intention of something new going up.