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. Enoteca Il Pentagrappolo

    $$ | Celio | Italian

    With its exposed-brick arches, soft lighting, and close proximity to the Colosseum, this attractive wine bar has an ample spread of cheeses...Read More

  • 2. Il Convivio

    $$$$ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    In a tiny, nondescript alley north of Piazza Navona, the three Troiani brothers—Angelo in the kitchen, and brothers Giuseppe and Massimo presiding...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Acquolina

    $$$ | Piazza del Popolo | Seafood

    This Michelin-starred restaurant turns out delicious and high-quality seafood dishes reflecting, for the most part, the time-honored Italian...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Giuda Ballerino!

    $$$$ | Quirinale | Italian

    Chef Andrea Fusco has a Michelin star to his name, and his menu here is inventive and delicious. Add to that some of the most stunning views...Read More

  • 7. L'Angolo Divino

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori | Wine Bar

    There's something about this cozy wine bar that feels as if it's in a small university town instead of a bustling metropolis. Serene blue-green...Read More

  • 8. Pesci Fritti

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori | Italian

    This cute jewel box of a restaurant sits on the seating of the ancient Theatre of Pompey just behind Campo de' Fiori (note the curve of the...Read More

  • 9. Pipero al Rex

    $$$ | Repubblica | Italian

    In the lobby of Hotel Rex, not far from Termini station, this Michelin-starred restaurant is a winning collaboration between well-known Roman...Read More

  • 10. Spirito Di Vino

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    At this restaurant, diners get to enjoy an evening of historical interest alongside an excellent meal. The building was constructed on the site...Read More

  • 11. Take Sushi

    $$ | Trastevere | Japanese

    An increasingly familiar sight on the streets of Rome are all-you-can-eat Japanese restaurants, popular for their inexpensive prices–-but Take...Read More

  • 12. Taverna Angelica

    $$ | Borgo | Italian

    The Borgo area near St. Peter's Basilica hasn't been known for culinary excellence, but this is starting to change, and Taverna Angelica was...Read More

  • 13. The Corner Marco Martini

    $$$$ | Aventino | Italian

    With innovative Italian-inspired cuisine and one Michelin star, this intimate restaurant has a lovely terrace bar as well as a romantic plant...Read More

  • 14. Tram Tram

    $$ | San Lorenzo | Italian

    The name refers to its proximity to the tram tracks, but could also describe the small, narrow interior of the restaurant, which is often packed...Read More

  • 15. Agata e Romeo

    $$ | Esquilino | Italian

    For the perfect combination of fine dining, creative cuisine, and rustic Roman tradition, this restaurant run by husband-and-wife team of Agata...Read More

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