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. Ba' Ghetto

    $$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    This hot spot on the main promenade in the Jewish Ghetto has been going strong for years, with pleasant indoor and outdoor seating. The kitchen...Read More

  • 2. Emma

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori | Italian

    Opened by Rome's renowned family of bakers, the Rosciolis, this large, sleek, modern pizzeria is smack in the middle of the city, with the freshest...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. Il Sorpasso

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    The focus at this happening spot, open from early morning until late in the evening, is on using excellently sourced products to make simple...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Pianostrada

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    This gourmet restaurant has an open kitchen, where you can watch the talented women owners cook up a storm of inventive delights—this is a ...Read More

  • 7. Pigneto Quarantuno

    $$ | Pigneto | Italian

    Reservations are always a good idea at this popular spot for top-quality Roman food (especially if you'd like to sit outside). The constantly...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Africa

    $$ | Esquilino | Ethiopian

    For something very different from pizza and pasta, try this excellent Ethiopian restaurant where traditional food is served in a casual environment...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. Brillo Restaurant

    $$ | Piazza del Popolo | Wine Bar

    The location near Piazza del Popolo makes Brillo especially convenient for lunch or dinner after shopping in the Via del Corso area. The menu...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. Cavour 313

    $$ | Monti | Wine Bar

    This long-popular wine bar a stone's throw from the Roman Forum has a tight seating area in the front, so you might want to head to the larger...Read More

  • 17. 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

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. Da Lucia

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    There's no shortage of old-school trattorias in Trastevere, but Da Lucia has a strong following among them. Both locals and expats enjoy the...Read More

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