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. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Del Frate

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    This impressive wine bar matches sleek, modern decor with creative cuisine and three dozen wines available by the glass. The house specialty...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Il Pagliaccio

    $$$$ | Piazza Navona | Italian

    Some of the most innovative interpretations of Roman fine dining can be found in this starkly chic restaurant on a backstreet between upscale...Read More

  • 11. Il Sanlorenzo

    $$$$ | Campo de' Fiori | Seafood

    This gorgeous space, with its chandeliers and soaring original brickwork ceilings, houses one of the best seafood restaurants in the Eternal...Read More

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Moma

    $$$ | Piazza di Spagna | Italian

    Across the street from Hotel Aleph, a favorite of the design trendoisie , modern, Michelin-starred Moma attracts well-heeled businessmen at...Read More

  • 14. 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

  • 15. 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

  • 16. 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

  • 17. 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

  • 18. Ristorante Nino

    $$$ | Piazza di Spagna | Italian

    Almost more of a landmark than an eatery, Nino has been a favorite among international journalists and the rich and famous since the 1960s and...Read More

  • 19. Roscioli

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori | Wine Bar

    The shop in front of this wine bar will beckon you in with top-quality comestibles like hand-sliced cured ham from Italy and Spain, more than...Read More

  • 20. Settembrini

    $$ | Prati | Italian

    The modern, intimate dining room here hints at what to expect from the kitchen and staff: elegant and restrained cooking, friendly yet unobtrusive...Read More

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