Italian Desserts to Eat in Rome
The 9 Best Sweets and Desserts to Try in Rome
Even if you do not have a sweet tooth it is hard to resist the wonderful sugary treats on offer in Rome. Whether it’s a warm cornetto for breakfast in the morning, a post-lunch gelato fix or a decadent dessert after dinner, Rome’s selection of cookies, pastries, cakes and puddings can put a smile on your face at any time of day.
Take a look at the Local Aromas list of not-to-be-missed sweets and desserts to eat in Rome:
Maritozzo con la Panna
A one-time staple breakfast pastry, maritozzi are not as easy to find as they once were, but if you hit the jackpot and find them for sale then do not miss the opportunity. A sweet, soft bun made with or without dried fruit which is split open and decadently crammed with whipped cream. A fabulous way to start your day.
The Romans’ breakfast item of choice looks like a croissant but is made with more sugar and less butter than its French counterpart. The best cornetti are soft inside with a touch of crunch on the outside and should be eaten as fresh as possible so buy them still warm from the oven from one of Rome’s pastry shops. Try them either ‘semplice’ (plain) or filled with jam, custard or chocolate.
Brutti ma Buoni
These moreish cookies might have originated in the town of Prato in Tuscany but they can easily be found in Roman bakeries. The mixture of baked egg whites with hazelnuts creates a chewy, crunchy texture somewhere between a meringue and a macaron, and the admittedly unappetising appearance gives them their perfectly appropriate name which translates as ‘ugly but good’.
The perfect ‘tira mi su’ (pick-me-up) of coffee, sugar and cocoa, tiramisu is one of the most iconic Italian desserts. The creamy mascarpone is paired with a kick of caffeine for the classic version, but nowadays more creative variations can be found using fresh fruit, ginger or even a thick layer of Nutella.
Literally meaning ‘cooked cream’ panna cotta is a staple item on most dessert menus in Italy. The texture should be light and creamy with just the right amount of ‘wobble’. Panna cotta is usually served with fresh berries, chocolate or caramel.
Tartufo al Cioccolato
Named after a ‘tartufo’ or truffle thanks to its resemblance to the prized underground mushroom, tartufo is actually a wickedly delicious dessert made from chocolate gelato coated in cocoa and served with a generous dollop of whipped cream.
Known to most of the world as biscotti, tozzetti is the local Roman term for these hard, twice-baked cookies studded with nuts (also called ‘cantucci’ in other areas of Italy’). Order tozzetti at the end of a meal along with a sweet wine such as ‘passito’ or ‘vin santo’ and dip them in to soften them before devouring
Crostata Ricotta e Visciole
This traditional cake is a Roman Jewish recipe which consists of a pastry case enclosing layers of an airy, sweetened ricotta and a sharp, sour jam made from a type of black cherry called ‘visciole’. It can be found throughout Rome but for the best, most authentic version head to the Jewish Ghetto area of town.
Any time of day is a good time for gelato. Rain or shine the locals will brighten up their day with a couple of scoops at their favorite gelateria. The perfect portable dessert, gelato never tastes better than when it is eaten in the beautiful piazzas and back streets of Rome. But watch out for sub-standard gelato which is sadly prevalent around the more touristic areas of the city; read our guide to finding the best gelato in Rome here.
Find out more about Italy’s desserts on our Gelato & Dessert Tasting Tour. This 90-minute stroll through Rome’s city centre gives you a chance to stop some of the best sweets and gelato the Eternal City has to offer including some of those mentioned above.