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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Al Pompiere

    $$$ | Jewish Ghetto | Italian

    The nondescript entrance on a narrow side street leads upstairs to the main dining room of this neighborhood favorite, where those in the know...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. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. 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

  • 9. Da Lucia

    $$ | Trastevere | Italian

    There's no shortage of old-school trattorias in Trastevere, but Da Lucia has a strong following among them. Both locals and expats enjoy the...Read More

  • 10. 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

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Supplì

    $ | Trastevere | Italian

    Trastevere's best supplì have been served at this hole-in-the-wall takeout spot since 1979. At lunchtime, the line spills out on to the street...Read More

  • 16. Trapizzino

    $ | Testaccio | Italian

    Stefano Calegari is one of Rome's most famous pizza makers, but at Trapizzino he's doing something a bit different. The name of the restaurant...Read More

  • 17. Trattoria da Cesare

    $$ | Italian

    This beloved neighborhood trattoria does many things well, from the fried starters to the pastas to the meaty secondi, so it's no surprise that...Read More

  • 18. Trattoria Pigneto

    $ | Pigneto | Italian

    This casual home-style trattoria follows the style of a fraschetta—a type of countryside restaurant where the menu focuses on porchetta in a...Read More

  • 19. Ai Tre Scalini

    $$ | Monti | Italian

    A traditional restaurant near the Colosseum, Ai Tre Scalini is old-school Roman with touches of the Sicilian. The seating outside in warm weather...Read More

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