/Filipino Fast Food in Rome

Filipino Fast Food in Rome

Would you believe me if I told you some of Rome’s tastiest snacks are sold from a shopping bag in front of the Filipino Embassy? I speak the truth! I first heard about these treats from my friend Irene, who regularly passes said shopping bag on her way to her sommelier course in Montemario.

There, in front of the Embassy, a woman sells carefully prepared and neatly packages Filipino snacks like hopia and ube cake. Until yesterday, when Irene brought me samples of these sweets, I was completely in the dark about the wonders of Filipino fast food. The package of hopia–5 in all–contained flakey disks packed with sweet onion paste and pork fat nuggets. The ube (purple yam) cake was light and airy, like angel food cake meets pound cake meets crayola…but with all natural ingredients.

The vendor sells her masterpieces most afternoons. You can find her at Viale delle Medaglie d’Oro 112.

2017-02-17T15:17:56+00:00 June 27th, 2012|Categories: Food & Wine, Gastronomic Traditions, Rome & Lazio, Sweets & Dessert|16 Comments


  1. Irene June 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Love love love them! Katie, I’m sure there must be more of these hidden gems sold out of shopping bags in Rome. We have to find them all…

  2. Irene June 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    By the way, Gina and I found them together! She picked out the UBE, purple force!

  3. Trina June 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Katie, you are too funny. I’m just waiting for you to discover the wonders of crispy pata in Rome.

  4. Gina June 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Irene – thanks for the shout out. Katie happy that you enjoyed them. Next trip we’re buying the other cakes.

  5. Tom June 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Just curious as to who the shopping-bag lady’s clientele is: Filipinos on their way to the embassy and worldly expats like yourself, Katie? Do you think the indigenous Roman population buys these treats? They sound amazing by the way. I love your description of the une cake…crayola! lol

  6. Sarah May June 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    I had a filipino BF in high school and his mom always had snack in a shopping bag, I kid you not!!!

    ALso I think you need to go to Mexico to discover the wonder of the beach pie ladies. They sell pie on the beach from tupperware that they wear on their heads.

  7. Angie June 28, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    I love that the une cake is super purple AND natural. Double score!

  8. Timi Siytangco June 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    If you love the ube cake, you must try ube ice cream. We all grow up on it and will never be far away when Filipinos get together. Maybe someone should make it a gelato flavor…yum.

  9. Lisa Barr July 3, 2012 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    I wish I had known about this earlier when I was in Rome. I spent three years in the Philippines as a child, so this would have been interesting. Next trip, I guess.

  10. John July 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    I’ve never had hopia with onion paste. They usually have mung bean paste and unlike their Chinese and other SE Asian counterparts, Filipinos usually add bits of pork.

    Italian street food is good (I’d kill for a lampredotto right now), but Filipino fast/street food is an experience on its own. Meat is usually skewered. Noodle soups like batchoy are common. And the best time to shop for banana leaf wrapped desserts is right after the noon mass on Sundays when stalls set up right outside the church to sell to hungry church goers. If you like the ube cake, there’s also halaya which is like ube pudding and a slice of ube halaya on top of halo-halo.

    When I lived in Vicenza, there was a big expat Filipino community and one just had to ask and they will direct you to their source of Filipino foods. It’s usually just a regular man or woman who specializes in one thing and sells dishes or desserts cooked in his or her own kitchen as a side job. The entry into that network of knowledge is the hardest, but once you know one person you know everybody. Rome has a very big Filipino community, and there is at least someone there who knows who cooks what and where if any are the specialized shops. That bag lady should know…

  11. Emilio September 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    I just came back from looking for this vendor, and it turns out that she actually has a little fast food shop, a small downstairs place hidden behind a green gate across the street from the embassy, right by the bus stop. The food is just as you described: deep purple ube cake, jade coloured steamed mini cakes called puto, meat-filled golden empanadas, and steamed meat buns called siopao with little bags of sauce as condiments. For those who enjoy it, I understand that they also sell balut. Everything was packaged to take away, which was perfect for me. It was around 15h00 when I arrived and so I came out of curiosity more than hunger, but I enjoyed the dishes tremendously. The next time I go back, I’ll found out about hours and a menu. Thanks for the tip!

    • Katie October 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm - Reply

      hey, went back yesterday and asked her about a shop and she said. now. it is the same woman? i need to find this shop you speak of!!

  12. Jacke de Vega January 3, 2017 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    There are more or less 8 Filipino eateries/resto/fast food in Rome alone. Each sells different kinds of Filipino ‘tsibog.’ Mini markets owned by Pinoys also sell these, sometimes they also import from the Philippines.

    • Katie Parla January 5, 2017 at 11:54 pm - Reply

      ooh would love names. I have been to Asian Delights (good!) near Termini and Trionfale (less good!) but always up for more spots!

      • Jacke February 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm - Reply

        Personally I prefer the one in Trionfale though. I guess it depends on what you had. ?

        Aside from Asian Delights in Termini (Via Volturno), you can also find two more in that area.

        Pinoy Fast Food operates for more than 6 years while Manila Restaurant is relatively new, they opened last year. Warch out for PFF’s HALO HALO!

        In the Vatican area, you can find Sarap and Neighborhood. Sarap also serves sushi and they have a take-away store in Borgo Pio.

        There is also this eatery called SPECK in Marconi. The one near the embassy (by Mang Nick) has been around for quite sometime as well.

        If you drop by Basilica di Santa Purdenziana on a Sunday, you will find a variety of food too.

        Check out also the Asian market near the embassy. They have the best SIOPAO.

        Let me know what you think.

        • Katie Parla February 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm - Reply

          this is OUTSTANDING!!!

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