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 a
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 antiq
In Rome, the Eternal(ly culinarily conservative) City, simple yet traditional cuisine reigns supreme. Most chefs prefer

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. Enoteca Corsi

    $ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    Very convenient for a good-value lunch in the centro storico, this trattoria is undeniably old-school—renovations were done a few years back...Read More

  • 2. Etablì

    $ | Piazza Navona | Mediterranean

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

  • 3. Fatamorgana

    $ | Café

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

  • 4. Mordi e Vai

    $ | Testaccio | Italian

    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...Read More

  • 5. Pinsere

    $ | Repubblica | Pizza

    In Rome, you'll usually find either pizza tonda or pizza al taglio, but there's also pizza pinsa : it's an oval-shape individual pie, and...Read More

  • 6. Al Settimo Gelo

    $ | Prati | Italian

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

  • 7. Alberto Pica

    $ | Campo de' Fiori | Café

    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 is artisanal...Read More

  • 8. Antico Caffè Greco

    $ | Piazza di Spagna | Café

    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...Read More

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  • 9. Bar del Fico

    $ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    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 place...Read More

  • 10. Baylon Cafe

    $ | Trastevere | Café

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

  • 11. Birreria Peroni

    $ | Piazza Navona | Italian

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

  • 12. Biscottificio Innocenti

    $ | Trastevere | Bakery

    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 (...Read More

  • 13. Caffè di Marzio

    $ | Trastevere | Café

    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...Read More

  • 14. Caffè Sant'Eustachio

    $ | Piazza Navona | Café

    Frequented by tourists and government officials from the nearby Senate alike, this is considered by many to make Rome's best coffee. Take it...Read More

  • 15. Come il Latte

    $ | Repubblica | Italian

    Located just a five-minute walk from Piazza della Repubblica, Come il Latte has a serious following for its super-creamy, all-natural gelato...Read More

  • 16. Cremeria Monteforte

    $ | Piazza Navona | Café

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

  • 17. Da Francesco

    $ | Piazza Navona | Italian

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

  • 18. Dar Poeta

    $ | Trastevere | Pizza

    Romans drive across town for great pizza from this neighborhood institution on a small street in Trastevere. They offer both thin-crust pizza...Read More

  • 19. Fatamorgana

    $ | Campo de' Fiori | Italian

    There are plenty of ordinary gelaterie around the Campo de' Fiori but it's worth searching out this branch of small Roman chain Fatamorgana...Read More

  • 20. Filetti di Baccalà

    $ | Campo de' Fiori | Italian

    The window reads "Filetti di Baccalà," but the official name of this small restaurant that specializes in one thing—deliciously battered and...Read More

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