Rome Restaurants

In Rome, the Eternal(ly culinarily conservative) City, simple yet traditional cuisine reigns supreme. Most chefs prefer to follow the mantra of freshness over fuss, and simplicity of flavor and preparation over complex cooking techniques.

Rome has been known since antiquity for its grand feasts and banquets, and dining out has alway been a favorite Roman pastime. Until recently, the city's buongustaii (gourmands) would have been the first to tell you that Rome is distinguished more by its enthusiasm for eating out than for a multitude of world-class restaurants—but this is changing. There is an ever-growing promotion of slow-food practices, a focus on sustainably and locally sourced produce. The economic crisis has forced the food industry in Rome to adopt innovative ways to maintain a clientele who are increasingly looking to dine out but want to spend less. The result has been the rise of "street food" restaurants, selling everything from inexpensive and novel takes on the classic supplì (Roman fried-rice balls) to sandwich shops that use a variety of organic ingredients.

Generally speaking, Romans like Roman food, and that’s what you’ll find in many of the city’s trattorias and wine bars. For the most part, today’s chefs cling to the traditional and excel at what has taken hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years to perfect. This is why the basic trattoria menu is more or less the same wherever you go. And it's why even the top Roman chefs feature their versions of simple trattoria classics like carbonara, and why those who attempt to offer it in a "deconstructed" or slightly varied way will often come under criticism. To a great extent, Rome is still a town where the Italian equivalent of "What are you in the mood for?" still gets the answer, "Pizza or pasta."

Nevertheless, Rome is the capital of Italy, and because people move here from every corner of the Italian peninsula, there are more variations on the Italian theme in Rome than you'd find elsewhere in Italy: Sicilian, Tuscan, Pugliese, Bolognese, Marchegiano, Sardinian, and northern Italian regional cuisines are all represented. And reflecting the increasingly cosmopolitan nature of the city, you'll find a growing number of good-quality international foods here as well—particularly Japanese, Indian, and Ethiopian.

Oddly enough, though, for a nation that prides itself on la bella figura ("looking good"), most Romans don't fuss about music, personal space, lighting, or decor. After all, who needs flashy interior design when so much of Roman life takes place outdoors, when dining alfresco in Rome can take place in the middle of a glorious ancient site or a centuries-old piazza?

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  • 1. Cul de Sac

    $ | Piazza Navona

    This popular wine bar near Piazza Navona is among the city's oldest and offers a book-length selection of wines from Italy, France, the Americas, and...Read More

  • 2. Etablì

    $ | Piazza Navona

    On a narrow vicolo (alley) off lovely cobblestone Piazza del Fico, this multifunctional restaurant and lounge space is decorated according to what could be called...Read More

  • 3. Fatamorgana

    $ | Monti

    The emphasis is on all-natural ingredients at this woman-owned gelateria, which has several locations in Rome. Flavors change often, but might include favorites like stracciatella...Read More

  • 4. Fatamorgana

    $ | Monti

    A short walk from the Roman Forum, this small Roman chain serves excellent gelato, including familiar favorites and adventurous flavors such as Gorgonzola, olive, and...Read More

  • 5. Giolitti

    $ | Piazza Navona

    Open since 1900, Giolitti near the Pantheon is Rome's old-school gelateria par excellence. Pay in advance at the register by the door and take your...Read More

  • 6. Mordi e Vai

    $ | Testaccio

    Sergio Esposito's stand at what will forever be called the "New" Testaccio Market (it moved in 2012) sells the best sandwiches in town. Meatballs, tongue,...Read More

  • 7. Ai Marmi

    $ | Trastevere

    This place is about as lively as it gets—indeed, it's packed pretty much every night, with diners munching on crisp pizzas that come out of...Read More

  • 8. Al Settimo Gelo

    $ | Prati

    The unusual flavors of gelato scooped up here include cinnamon and ginger and fig with cardamom and walnut, but the classics also get rave reviews....Read More

  • 9. Alberto Pica

    $ | Campo de' Fiori

    Beloved owner Alberto Pica sadly died in 2015, but his name lives on in the gelato shop he ran close to the river. Gelato production...Read More

  • 10. Antico Caffè Greco

    $ | Piazza di Spagna

    Pricey Antico Caffè Greco is a national landmark and Rome's oldest café; its red-velvet chairs, marble tables, and marble busts have seen the likes of...Read More

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  • 11. Appia Antica Caffè

    $ | Via Appia Antica

    Strategically situated at the No. 660 bus stop on the corner of Via di Cecilia Metella, the Appia Antica Caffè, with its birdsong-filled ambience, is...Read More

  • 12. Bar del Fico

    $ | Piazza Navona

    Everyone in Rome knows Bar del Fico, located right behind Piazza Navona, so if you're looking to hang out with the locals, this is the...Read More

  • 13. Baylon Cafe

    $ | Trastevere

    With eclectic vintage decor, colorful mismatched tables and chairs, and free Wi-Fi, this low-key neighborhood hot spot lures lots of expats and American travelers. The...Read More

  • 14. Birreria Peroni

    $ | Piazza Navona

    With its long wooden tables, hard-back booths, and free-flowing beer, this casual restaurant in a 16th-century palazzo might seem more like a Munich beer hall...Read More

  • 15. Biscottificio Innocenti

    $ | Trastevere

    The scent of cookies wafts out into the street as you approach this family-run bakery, where a small team of bakers makes sweet treats the...Read More

  • 16. Biscottificio Innocenti

    $ | Trastevere

    People from all over Rome come to this family-run bakery that's been turning out delicious desserts since 1920. Try the brutti ma buoni ("ugly but...Read More

  • 17. Bonci Pizzarium

    $ | Prati

    This tiny storefront by famed pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci is the city's most famous place for pizza al taglio. It serves more than a dozen flavors,...Read More

  • 18. Caffè di Marzio

    $ | Trastevere

    Over a coffee or a cocktail, sit and gaze upon Santa Maria in Trastevere's glistening golden facade at Caffè di Marzio. The outdoor seating is...Read More

  • 19. Cremeria Monteforte

    $ | Piazza Navona

    Immediately beside the Pantheon is this gelateria, which is well known for its flavors, like mango, pistachio, and chocolate chip. The chocolate sorbetto—an icier version...Read More

  • 20. Da Francesco

    $ | Piazza Navona

    For good, hearty, Roman cuisine in an area filled with mediocre touristy restaurants, head to this authentic trattoria that's been on the scene since the...Read More

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