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. Armando al Pantheon

    $$ | Piazza Navona

    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 to the...Read More

  • 2. Ba'Ghetto

    $$ | Jewish Ghetto

    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

  • 3. Cul de Sac

    $ | Piazza Navona

    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, and...Read More

  • 4. Da Enzo

    $ | Trastevere

    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

  • 5. Emma

    $$$ | Campo de' Fiori

    With dough by Rome's renowned family of bakers, the Rosciolis, this large, sleek, modern pizzeria is smack in the middle of the city, with the...Read More

  • 6. Enoteca La Torre

    $$$$ | Prati

    In the Villa Laetitia, a boutique hotel owned by the Fendi family, this gorgeous restaurant has soaring ceilings, a crystal chandelier, and art nouveau motifs....Read More

  • 7. Etablì

    $ | Piazza Navona

    On a narrow vicolo (alley) off lovely cobblestone Piazza del Fico, this multifunctional restaurant and lounge space is decorated according to what could be called...Read More

  • 8. Flavio al Velavevodetto

    $$ | Testaccio

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

  • 9. Il Marchese

    $$ | Piazza di Spagna

    This rustic-meets-glamorous bistro attracts locals for its flawless execution of Roman classics (many served photogenically in metal cooking pans) as well as original dishes. Its...Read More

  • 10. Moma

    $$$ | Piazza di Spagna

    In front of the American embassy, a favorite of the design trendoisie, modern, Michelin-starred Moma attracts well-heeled businessmen at lunch but turns into a more...Read More

  • 11. Mordi e Vai

    $ | Testaccio

    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, tongue,...Read More

  • 12. Necci dal 1924

    $$ | Pigneto

    Pigneto is full of hip restaurants and bars now, but Necci is the neighborhood's original hangout, the haunt of famed director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who...Read More

  • 13. Pianostrada

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori

    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 "kitchen...Read More

  • 14. Pierluigi

    $$$ | Campo de' Fiori

    This popular seafood restaurant is a fun spot on balmy summer evenings, with tables out on the pretty Piazza de' Ricci. As at most Italian...Read More

  • 15. Ristorante All'Oro

    $$$$ | Flaminio

    At this sleek Michelin-starred restaurant inside the Hall Tailor Suite hotel, chef/owner Riccardo Di Giacinto and his wife Ramona make fine dining a fun and...Read More

  • 16. Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina

    $$ | Campo de' Fiori

    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

  • 17. Sorpasso

    $$ | Prati

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

  • 18. Urbana 47

    $$$ | Monti

    This restaurant serving breakfast through dinner embodies the kilometro zero concept, highlighting hyper-local food from the surrounding Lazio region. The local boho crowd comes in...Read More

  • 19. Africa

    $$ | Esquilino

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

  • 20. Al Ceppo

    $$$ | Villa Borghese

    The well-heeled, the business-minded, and those of refined palates frequent this outpost of tranquility. The owners hail from Le Marche, the region northeast of Rome...Read More

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