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. Osteria dell'Ingegno

    $$ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    This casual, trendy place is a great spot to enjoy a glass of wine or a gourmet meal in an ancient piazza in the city center, but the modern...Read More

  • 2. Stazione di Posta

    $$ | Testaccio | Italian

    On the site of what was Rome's largest slaughterhouse in the 1800s, Stazione di Posta manages to be über-modern (pushing tradition with twists...Read More

  • 3. 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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  • 4. Armando al Pantheon

    $$ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    In the shadow of the Pantheon, this small family-run trattoria, open since 1961, delights tourists and locals alike. There's an air of authenticity...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. Checchino dal 1887

    $$ | Testaccio | Italian

    Literally carved into the side of a hill made up of ancient shards of amphorae, Checchino is an example of a classic, upscale, family-run Roman...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. GiNa

    $ | Piazza di Spagna | Café

    Homey minimalism" isn't a contradiction at this multilevel whitewashed caffè with a modern edge. The menu offers various bruschette, mixed salads...Read More

  • 11. Il Simposio di Costantini

    $$$ | Prati | Italian

    At the most upscale wine bar in town, you come for the wine but return for the food. Everything here is appropriately raffinato (refined)...Read More

  • 12. Imàgo

    $$$$ | Piazza di Spagna | Italian

    Excellence is at the forefront of everything at Imàgo, the Michelin-starred restaurant inside the legendary Hotel Hassler, and it's all a memorable...Read More

  • 13. L'Archeologia

    $$$ | Via Appia Antica | Italian

    In this farmhouse just beyond the catacombs, founded around 1890, you can dine indoors beside the fireplace in cool weather or in the garden...Read More

  • 14. La Torricella

    $$ | Testaccio | Seafood

    This family-run institution has been serving seafood in the working-class Testaccio neighborhood for more than 40 years, and if you visit the...Read More

  • 15. Nonna Betta

    $ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    Right on the main street of the Jewish Ghetto, Nonna Betta is an institution in the neighborhood. All the Roman Jewish classics are on the menu...Read More

  • 16. Osteria der Belli

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    One might overlook Osteria der Belli because of its proximity to the central square of Trastevere, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere—and that...Read More

  • 17. Pasticceria Boccione

    $ | Jewish Ghetto | Bakery

    This tiny, old-school bakery is an institution in the Ghetto area and is famed for its Roman Jewish sweet specialties. Service is brusque, choices...Read More

  • 18. Piperno

    $$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    The place to go for Rome's extraordinary carciofi alla giudia, Piperno has been in business since 1860. The location, up a tiny hill in a piazza...Read More

  • 19. Rosati

    $ | Piazza del Popolo | Café

    A fixture of the Piazza del Popolo since 1922, this classic Roman caffè attracts locals and visitors for cappuccino and aperitivo. It's a prime...Read More

  • 20. Sora Lella

    $$$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    The draw here—in addition to the wonderful food—is the fact that this is the only restaurant on Isola Tiberina, the wondrously picturesque island...Read More

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