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How to Eat Like a Local in Rome

Rome is known for its simple, time-tested cuisine, but choosing a restaurant can be tricky. Many places catering primarily to tourists cut corners and compromise on tradition—it’s easy to wind up in a dining room where your fellow customers all speak English, your waiter is smuggly indifferent (or cartoonishly fawning), and, the one unforgivable shortcoming, your food is second-rate.

For a more authentic experience, check out the local favorites of our Rome-based restaurant reviewer. Some are trendy, some traditional, but they all meet the demands of discriminating Roman palates, which means your meal is likely to be both delicious and distinctly different from what you get at Italian restaurants back home.

Dar Poeta
Romans drive across town for great pizza from this neighborhood institution on a small street in Trastevere. Maybe it’s the dough—it’s made from a secret blend of flours . . . Read more.

‘Gusto – Osteria
You can get regular osteria fare and service at this member of the ‘Gusto restaurant empire, but why would you? The beauty of this spot is what makes it different . . . Read more.

Nicknamed “the mortuary” for its marble-slab tables, Panattoni is actually about as lively as you can get. Packed every night, it serves crisp pizzas that come out of the wood-burning ovens at top speed . . . Read more.

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In this restaurant dating from 1911, the old Testaccio remains, and it has the decor to prove it. A seasonal antipasto table starts things off, offering Roman specialties . . . Read more.


Primo is a modern Italian restaurant highlighting local ingredients and simplified cooking techniques. The young and hip sip from a selection of 250 wines . . . Read more.

Tram Tram

This bustling trattoria is usually snugly packed with hungry Romans. The name refers to its proximity to the tram tracks, but could also describe its size, as it’s narrow-narrow and often stuffed to the rafters-rafters . . . Read more.

Trattoria Monti

Not far from Santa Maria Maggiore, Monti is one of the most dependable, moderately priced trattorias in the city, featuring the cuisine of the Marches, an area to the northeast of Rome . . . Read more.

Photo credit: Angelo Campus

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