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 | Wine Bar

    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...Read More

  • 2. Da Enzo

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    In the quieter part of Trastevere, the family-run Da Enzo is everything you would imagine a classic Roman trattoria to be. There are just a...Read More

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Flavio al Velavevodetto

    $$ | Testaccio | Italian

    It's everything you're looking for in a true Roman eating experience: authentic, in a historic setting, and filled with Italians eating good...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. Baccano

    $$ | Quirinale | Italian

    There are plenty of options for good food at reasonable prices around the Trevi Fountain, but this large brasserie is a good bet, and is open...Read More

  • 7. Bellacarne

    $$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    Bellacarne means "beautiful meat," and that's the focus of the menu here, though the double entendre is that it's also what a Jewish Italian...Read More

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Da Ivo

    $$ | Trastevere | Pizza

    This always crowded pizzeria opens early and closes late, and in between it's packed with locals, tourists, and sports fans who know they can...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. Gelato San Lorenzo

    $ | San Lorenzo | Italian

    While San Lorenzo is filled with cheap fast food popular among students, this gelateria (open until 1 am) places quality above all else, and...Read More

  • 13. Hostaria da Cesare

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    An old standby in Prati, Hostaria da Cesare is dedicated to Roman culinary tradition. The general menu's tendency toward hearty, stick-to-your...Read More

  • 14. Il Gelato di San Crispino

    $ | Piazza di Spagna | Café

    Many people say this is the best gelato in Rome, and though it's hard to pick just one, this is definitely the place to go if you want a delicious...Read More

  • 15. 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

  • 16. L'Isola della Pizza

    $ | Prati | Pizza

    Right near the Vatican Metro stop, the "Island of Pizza" is also known for its copious antipasti. Ask for the house appetizers, and a waiter...Read More

  • 17. L'Osteria di Monteverde

    $$ | Italian

    Romans are starting to recognize Monteverde as a foodie hub, and this trattoria is one of the neighborhood's outstanding spots. The food ranges...Read More

  • 18. La Ciambella

    $$ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    The sprawling space is styled after American restaurants, with a lively bar in front, but the structure itself is all Roman, with brick archways...Read More

  • 19. La Fraschetta di Castel Sant'Angelo

    $ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    A fraschetta is the name given to one of the casual, boisterous countryside spots just outside of Rome, where the menu focuses on porchetta...Read More

  • 20. La Gatta Mangiona

    $$ | Pizza

    The pizza at this neighborhood spot is Roman-style—with a thin crust, charred on the edges. All the standard toppings are available, from margherita...Read More

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