Restaurant Types

Until relatively recently, there was a distinct hierarchy delineated by the names of Rome's eating places. A ristorante was typically elegant and expensive, and a trattoria served more traditional, home-style fare in a relaxed atmosphere. An osteria was even more casual, essentially a wine bar and gathering spot that also served food, although the latest species of wine bars generally goes under the moniker of enoteca. All these terms still exist but their distinction has blurred considerably. Now, an osteria in the center of town may be pricier than a ristorante across the street.

Although Rome may not boast the grand caffè of Paris or Vienna, it does have hundreds of small places on pleasant side streets and piazze. The coffee is routinely of high quality. Locals usually stop in for a quickie at the bar, where prices are much lower than for the same drink taken at the table. If you place your order at the counter, ask if you can sit down: some places charge more for table service. Often you'll pay a cashier first, then give your scontrino (receipt) to the person at the counter who fills your order.

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