If you want to eat at Rome's best restaurants, get ready to make reservations.
I hate to break it to you, but just because you’re in Rome, it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to eat well. In fact, while the main piazzas in the historic center are beautiful to look at, many of the restaurants right on them are tourist traps that serve subpar food and charge a premium for the location. Oversize menus written in multiple languages, guys standing near the entrance trying to get you to go inside, and fake food displays are telltale signs of them.
In Rome, the best restaurants book up days or weeks in advance, so if you want to eat well, you’d better do some planning. Don’t think you can show up at the city’s most popular restaurants without a reservation and get a table. Even if you see empty tables, the host might turn you away because they’ve been booked by people arriving shortly after you. Some restaurants accept online restaurants, but many don’t, so you’ll have to call. Believe me, it’s worth the extra effort—especially at these authentic spots.
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Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina
Don’t even try to get in here without a reservation—tables are booked a month in advance. Started as a deli counter, Salumeria Roscioli became a proper restaurant when the Roscioli family put some tables in the back and started serving classic Roman dishes alongside fresh burrata from Puglia, Cantabrian anchovies, and other delicacies from afar. The family also runs a bakery, café, and wine bar in the area around Campo de’ Fiori and is opening a new location in New York City.
INSIDER TIPIf you can’t get into the Salumeria, try Rimessa Roscioli, which serves some of the same dishes.
Related: The Best Gelato Spots in Rome
At this Michelin-starred restaurant in the quiet Flaminio neighborhood, just a few blocks from Piazza del Popolo, chef/proprietor Riccardo di Giacinto and his wife Ramona Anello welcome diners into their beautiful and delicious world. Di Giacinto plays with traditional Roman dishes but presents them in innovative ways. Take the pasta-less carbonara foam served in an eggshell, for example. Or the coda alla vaccinara presented in the guise of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Opt for the classic tasting menu to sample Di Giacinto’s greatest hits.
INSIDER TIPBook a night in the H’All Tailor Suite—also run by Di Giacinto and Anello—to extend the experience with a gourmet breakfast.
Le Jardin de Russie
Tucked inside the luxurious Hotel de Russie just off the Piazza del Popolo, this restaurant has tables in the city’s most enchanting garden. Renowned chef Fulvio Pierangelini has devised a menu that eschews overly complicated preparations and proves that the simplest recipes are the most divine. If you don’t believe me, try the spaghetti al pomodoro (there’s someone in the kitchen dedicated to peeling kilos of fresh tomatoes for the sauce every day).
INSIDER TIPStart downstairs at the hotel’s Stravinskij Bar with a signature Stravinskij Spritz.
You can’t go wrong at Pierluigi for the freshest fish and seafood in Rome; you can’t go wrong at Pierluigi. With tables on one of the city’s most charming piazzas, this restaurant is elegant yet unfussy—the perfect place for a leisurely lunch or a romantic dinner. Start with the raw seafood platter or tuna tartare, then choose from dishes like tagliolini with lobster, whole sea bass, or fritto misto.
INSIDER TIPBefore or after a meal here, stroll down the picturesque Via di Monserrato, a hub for chic independent boutiques like Chez Dédé and Maison Halaby.
La Matriciana dal 1870
Some places try to recreate a vintage look, but at this historic restaurant right across from the opera house, the décor hasn’t changed since the 1930s. As the restaurant’s name indicates, this place is even older. It all started in 1870 when a woman from the small town of Amatrice moved to Rome and started cooking bucatini all’amatriciana. If you want to taste the most authentic version of the dish, this is the place to get it.
INSIDER TIPThough this restaurant is known for classic Roman dishes, you’ll find seafood dishes like grilled octopus and risotto alla crema di scampi as well.
Roman-style pizza has a very thin, almost crunchy crust, and L’Elementare is one of the best places to try it. Originally opened in the Parco Appio post-lockdown, it debuted a second location in Trastevere soon after. You’ll find classics like a Margherita with mozzarella di bufala as well as special pizzas like the parmigiana di Noantri with fried eggplant, stracciatella, semi-dry tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and burned eggplant chips.
INSIDER TIPThe Trastevere location is more centrally located, but the location in Parco Appio is great for families because there’s more space for kids to run around.
Shabby-chic décor with mismatched vintage chairs, a charming interior garden hung with string lights, helpful servers, and flawless food form a winning combination at this contemporary bistro. As a bonus, this place is run by an all-female team. Don’t sleep on chef Paola Colucci’s pillowy focaccia topped with figs and prosciutto or stracciatella and anchovies. The menu changes seasonally, so it’s worth visiting again and again.
INSIDER TIPColucci was recently tapped to run the restaurant in the Rome Edition, which is also worth trying.
The talented young chef Sarah Cicolini is behind this hip trattoria in the off-the-beaten-path neighborhood of San Giovanni. The interiors are inspired by vintage trattorias, and the menu hews to Roman classics, but the wine list focuses on natural wines. Her carbonara gives Rome’s more established restaurants a run for their money.
Enoteca La Torre
Set within Villa Laetitia, an elegant boutique hotel owned by the Fendi family in Prati, this fine dining restaurant earned two Michelin stars for its gourmet cuisine, attentive service, and elegant atmosphere. It’s set in one of the city’s prettiest dining rooms, with high ceilings, Art Nouveau motifs, and a crystal chandelier. Young chef Domenico Stile’s creative dishes are paired with out-of-the-box wine pairings by the sommelier.
INSIDER TIPPut your trust in the chef and choose one of the six- or eight-course tasting menus.
Scandinavian minimalism meets Italian ingenuity at this hip restaurant and micro-bakery in Ostiense with a very popular weekend brunch. Danish baker Sofie Wochner whips up fantastic cinnamon swirls and a rotating selection of pastries and cakes while her husband, Domenico Cortese, a Sicilian chef, handles the savory items on the menu.
INSIDER TIPReservations are not accepted for brunch, and there’s always a wait. If you want to be sure to get a table, book one for lunch Monday through Friday.
Located right on the main drag in the Jewish Ghetto, this kosher restaurant is a great place to get a taste of Roman Jewish specialties like carciofi alla giudia. Because it’s kosher, you won’t find any dairy on the menu, but you will find Middle Eastern specialties like hummus, falafel, babaganoush, and couscous. When the weather is good, ask for a table outside.
INSIDER TIPLocated just down the street, Ba’Ghetto Milky serves kosher dairy and fish dishes.
This osteria is a solid choice if you’re looking for a place to eat near the Spanish Steps. The vibe is rustic-meets-glam, with velvet banquettes, wooden or marble tables, and dangling chandeliers. Some of the pastas are served in metal pans, and they also serve nice salads and mains like veal saltimbocca and octopus with zucchini puree.
INSIDER TIPThis restaurant boasts Rome’s largest amaro selection and the bittersweet liquors star in many of the cocktails.
Tucked inside the W Rome is this modern Sicilian restaurant by Ciccio Sultano, whose restaurant Il Duomo in Ragusa holds two Michelin stars. The vibe here is more trendy bistro than fine dining, and the dishes are less complicated but still delicious. Go here to try Sicilian specialties like paccheri alla norma (pasta with eggplant, tomato, and ricotta salata), couscous trapanese (served with fish soup), and caponata. Whatever you do, don’t skip the cannoli.
INSIDER TIPThe hotel also has a cool rooftop lounge, so start with a drink and head downstairs for dinner.
Seu Pizza Illuminati
Next gen pizzaiolo Pier Daniele Seu has been raking in the awards since he opened this modern pizzeria in a quiet corner of Trastevere. It’s currently ranked as the third-best pizzeria in Italy, according to the judges at Top 50 Pizza. Compared to most of the city’s pizzerias, this place is much more modern in design and recipes. Pizzas are presented like art, with the kind of flourishes you might see in fine dining restaurants. Don’t skip the fried supplì.
INSIDER TIPSeu also serves a selection of pizzas on the rooftop of the W Rome.
The opening of this fine dining restaurant inside Anantara Palazzo Naiadi, a neoclassical landmark on Piazza della Repubblica, represents a homecoming for chef Heros De Agostinis, who worked in some of the top hotels in London, Monte-Carlo, and St. Moritz before returning to Rome, where he was born. His inventive dishes are inspired by childhood memories as well as his international travels. Ingredients like scallops and shrimp might be dressed with passionfruit, calamansi, or turmeric.
INSIDER TIPThe roving bread cart is a masterpiece with a variety of bread made in-house.
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
Finding great food near the Roman Forum is difficult, but this charming little family-run restaurant offers weary travelers a respite. The cozy interiors are decorated with quirky artwork that the owners have collected over the years. They serve some delicious twists on the classics, like cacio e pepe with black truffle or la gricia with seasonal fruit.
INSIDER TIPMany of their pastas can be made gluten-free.
The area immediately surrounding the Vatican isn’t exactly known as a gastronomic destination, but hidden above the Auditorium della Conciliazione is this glamorous restaurant/lounge. Sky-high ceilings, marble walls, and plush seating give it a cinematic vibe, like something from Paolo Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning film La Grande Bellezza. Start at the bar with a cocktail by lauded bartender Massimo d’Addezio, then move to a table for creative dishes by Arcangelo Dandini.
INSIDER TIPChorus closes every summer and reopens in the fall.
Il Ristorante – Niko Romito
One of the hottest tables in town is the gourmet restaurant inside the new Bulgari Hotel. Helmed by the brand’s longtime collaborator Niko Romito, whose restaurant in Abruzzo holds three Michelin stars, the concept is contemporary Italian cuisine. Seemingly simple dishes are painstakingly researched and developed to deliver culinary excellence. Influences span Italy’s 20 regions, with the menu featuring specialties like vitello tonnato, cotoletta alla milanese, and tiramisu.
INSIDER TIPPrepare to book far in advance if you want to get in here.
Checchino dal 1887
The slightly gritty neighborhood of Testaccio is where Romans go to eat quinto quarto, i.e., offal. This upscale family-run restaurant was one of the first to open near the slaughterhouse that gave birth to this culinary tradition. Aside from Roman-style tripe and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), you’ll find the classic Roman pastas as well as some seasonal specials.
INSIDER TIPBoth the food and the service are old school here, with servers in white jackets and homestyle dishes like pollo alla cacciatora.
Da Enzo al 29
This archetypal trattoria is the exception to the rule about making reservations—because they don’t accept them. But it’s worth the wait for the sublime tonnarelli cacio e pepe or rigatoni alla carbonara, served quickly and efficiently in this jovial family-run spot on a cobblestone street in Trastevere. The tables are packed in tightly, and if you come alone, you’ll be seated with another solo diner, so come ready to socialize.
INSIDER TIPThe restaurant opens for dinner at 7 p.m., and if you want to be in the first seating, you’d better line up by 6:15 p.m. Luckily, Aperol Spritzes, wine, and beer are available while you wait.