The Best Restaurants In Rome guide image


The Best Restaurants In Rome

Classic trattorias, fantastic pasta, great coffee, and where to eat like a local.

Rome is famously chaotic, and a fascinating mix of very old-meets-very new: you’ll find wifi hotspots at ancient monuments, over 900 churches and nearly as many electric Bird scooters, and an Apple store in the historic Palazzo Marignoli, frescos intact.

The Roman food scene reflects this same tangle of ancient and modern. Yes, the city holds tight to its traditions, but it’s so much more than checkered tablecloths, pizza and gelato, and no cappuccino after 11am. More young chefs are taking the reins and introducing fresh and creative takes on the classics that offer a new perspective on Roman culture today.

Having said that, you should know that Romans, and Italians more generally, are very particular about how they eat. Breakfast is fast and sweet and taken at the bar of a cafe. Lunch really can be the long, multi-course feast that you’ve seen in the movies, especially on weekends, and dinner is late by US standards, with many places not even opening until 8pm. But, there are still places for grabbing an early dinner if you need them.

Use this guide to navigate it all. We’ve broken it out by classic trattorias, the best pasta, bars for coffee and bars for wine, neighborhood spots where you’ll see more Italians than Americans, gelato, and one of the tougher things to find: a great snack in the middle of the day.


Armando al Pantheon review image

Armando al Pantheon


Salita de' Crescenzi 31, Rome
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Armando al Pantheon has been serving straightforward classics to loyal regulars and tourists throughout its five decades of family ownership. Come here for simple and excellent Roman food, including fantastic amatriciana made with rigatoni and a sublime spaghetti alla carbonara. You can get a half-portion of pasta if you want to save some room for a second course, like the saltimbocca alla romana or the tripe cooked in tomato with pecorino cheese. Just make sure to book your visit in advance—Armando al Pantheon is closed on Sundays and remains one of the toughest reservations to get last minute.

photo credit: Mary Stuart

Da Cesare Al Casaletto review image

Da Cesare al Casaletto

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Cesare may like an average family-run neighborhood trattoria with unremarkable decor, but the food here is way above average. Located in a residential neighborhood a 20-minute tram ride from Trastevere, this spot’s great for a leisurely Sunday lunch. 

Make the most of the large menu by coming with a group. Start with the rich fried shredded beef called polpette di bollito, fried eggplant croquettes, and gnocchetti fritti with pecorino sauce, followed by one of the pastas (the gricia, carbonara, rigatoni all'amatriciana and oxtail stew are all great). Another strategy: focus on entrees, like the fried lamb chops or braised veal. There’s also an excellent wine list with affordable bottles from traditional and natural producers from Italy, France, and Slovenia.

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Giggetto is in the heart of Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. Once a place of poverty and oppression, this vibrant and historic neighborhood is home to the city’s main synagogue, shops, an ancient archaeological site, and fantastic restaurants where you can try Roman Jewish cuisine. (You can also book a walking tour to learn more about the area’s history.)

At Giggetto, start with traditional Roman Jewish appetizers like filetto di baccalà and deep-fried whole artichokes whose leaves become thin and crispy like potato chips. This is not a kosher restaurant, so you can still try the gricia, a pasta sauce with pecorino cheese and crispy chunks of guanciale, or the amatriciana made with the traditional bucatini. In the warmer weather, try to grab a table outside next to fragments of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo.


Getting a table at Roscioli is about as difficult as remembering when Italians switch from saying “good morning” to “good evening” (it’s around noon, which yes, does feel early). That’s because the wine list is superb and the famous dishes, like their amatriciana and carbonara, burrata with sundried tomatoes, and thinly-sliced mortadella and parmesan, live up to their hype. 

If you don’t mind hearing what the table next to you thought of their Colosseum guide, try for one of the tables that fill up the narrow top floor—there are a few right up against the deli counter that's filled with gorgonzolas and prosciuttos. And if you do mind, aim for the downstairs dining room or the less-chaotic bar in the back.

The Best Pasta In Rome guide image

RME Guide

The Best Pasta In Rome

Everything in Rome comes with a history lesson, including a meal at Piatto Romano. It’s located in Testaccio, a neighborhood where cucina Romana was basically invented thanks in part to its history of housing what was once the largest slaughterhouse in all of Europe. Come here for a long, mid-week lunch and order the offal, amatriciana, and the great daily specials like crispy artichokes. Dessert is equally old-school: go with the tiramisu or the ricotta visciole and a bitter shot of genziana, a gentian root liqueur made in the mountains of Abruzzo.

Rocco is a classic Roman trattoria with polished terrazzo and starched tablecloths, but it feels a bit more laid back than some of the other similar places in the city (but don’t worry: you can still wear the one nice outfit you packed for your trip and not feel overdressed). Sure, you might see a former president of the Republic or an Oscar-winning director at the next table, but that’s because this is their neighborhood spot. They have a great pasta menu, seafood fresh from Anzio, sides of local bitter greens, and breaded lamb chops. Just note there’s only one dinner seating at 8pm, or sometimes 9pm in the summer.

Trattoria Pennestri is in Ostiense, a modern residential neighborhood outside of Rome’s historic center where you can find more street art and apartment blocks than fountains and cobblestones. The menu includes classics like carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe, as well as less traditional dishes, like the decidedly un-Roman seared duck breast with different seasonal sauces. For dessert, try the chocolate mousse that’s served with Sardinian pane carasau, rosemary, and sea salt. Come here for lunch to sit on the patio under the umbrellas, or for a candlelight dinner in the cozy dining room.

al42 Street Food Gourmet, colloquially known as Pasta Chef, is a rare concept for Rome: it’s a casual restaurant that also does takeout. It also makes some of the best amatriciana and carbonara in Rome, with perfectly cooked al dente pasta and nice, silky sauce. It’s a great place for when you need an easy, low-stress lunch or quick dinner, and the location near the Colosseum and Roman Forum is especially convenient for a bite in-between tours. They also do a solid caesar salad and sell small bottles of wine that are perfect for solo diners.


While this bar is not at all a secret, it has fiercely resisted change and feels like Rome personified: it’s a little scruffy, and always busy. They’re open from very early in the morning until very late at night, and you can find just about anybody here, whether that’s eighth-generation Trastevere residents or study-abroad students who just got to Rome. In the morning, you’ll probably see a table of men playing cards, and on some nights, there’s live music. The coffee is great, the hot chocolate is even better, and you can get a spritz at 9am or midnight.

The line at the Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè is almost as long as the one at the Pantheon, but unlike the Pantheon on a summer afternoon, it moves fast. Stand at the bar for a quick espresso, or grab a table outside and linger for a bit with a monachella, a fancy drink that has layers of sweetened espresso, hot chocolate, and whipped cream. 

That seat is going to cost a little extra, but it comes with a view of a building painted with 16th-century Medici family fresco, a Borromini spire that looks like a swirl of soft serve, and politicians in expensive suits on a break from the nearby Senate. If you’re looking for wifi and a big salad for lunch, the same team has Emporio Sant’Eustachio, Rome’s more stylish answer to Starbucks, around the corner.

When it comes to coffee, the team of baristas at Faro Rome, a third-wave coffee spot near the Villa Borghese, are a serious bunch—they’ll ask you to try your cup without adding any sugar, and the pour over, made with an Aeropress or V60, doesn’t even come with milk. For early risers (which means 8am in Rome), there are savory breakfast plates like eggs, grilled sandwiches, and maritozzo, a classic Roman cream-filled pastry.


Il Goccetto was one of the city’s first wine bars and is now a Roman institution. There are a few tables inside where you can sit under a painted Renaissance ceiling, but most people stand outside on the picturesque Via dei Banchi Vecchi. There’s a varied choice of wines by the glass listed on a chalkboard that ranges from an obscure natural wine from Sicily to bubbles from the Veneto, and you can also buy bottles off the shelves. 

The mixed plate for two moves beyond the usual cured meat and cheeses with small bites like tiny rolls of salmon stuffed with soft robiola cheese, small artichokes preserved in olive oil, and thin slices of rare roast beef. It’s plenty of food for a light dinner or just enough to hold you over until that 9:30pm reservation.

Rimessa is part of the Roscioli family empire of restaurants and cafes and offers two nightly guided wine tastings at 5pm and 8:30pm that feel like a big dinner party where you’ll make friends with the people next to you—and if you’d rather not, you can still make a reservation anytime for dinner. 

While the original Roscioli is one of the best places in Rome for pasta, you can get the same excellent cacio e pepe at Rimessa without the cramped seating or needing to set five different alarms to try and get a reservation. If you’d prefer to look at the tops of old buildings while you sip your ribolla gialla, Rimessa also pours wine on the rooftop at the Palazzo Nainer Hotel, weather permitting.

Down a small cobblestone-lined alley near Piazza Navona is Ruma, a moody bar that serves natural wine alongside small plates featuring produce and buffalo dairy directly from the owners’ farm. If you’re only here for one thing, the cheese is straight-up phenomenal—from stracchino spooned on crusty bread to burrata that melts like your friend who got a little too emotional at the Sistine Chapel. 

Other hits include buffalo meatloaf with a savory gravy and anything involving fresh vegetables. Sit at one of the tiny wooden tables among the orange glow—of both the lighting and your skin contact wine—and end with a large scoop of velvety gelato. (Buffalo-based, of course.)

Whether you’re looking to have a very late lunch or an early light dinner, Fafiuchè is the perfect place for apericena, the Italian word that combines aperitivo and cena and means something more than a snack but not quite a full dinner. They serve wines from Piedmont and Pugliese-inspired snacks, plus a few hot dishes like lasagna and the bagna cuda, a warm garlicky anchovy dip with vegetables. If you stay for dessert, order the bruschetta Fafiuchè that takes a slice of toasted bread and tops it with thin shavings of cioccolato cremino, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

You’ll want to come to this natural wine bar located on a quiet street in Trastevere with a friend or two, as they only sell by the bottle. Inside, you’ll find one room with high-top tables and six spots at the bar that look into the kitchen. There’s a chef residency program, so every few months there’s someone new creating a limited menu of creative small plates. Not necessarily Italian, you can expect things like figs wrapped in transparent slices of lardo, a savory foie gras tart, and a deceptively simple brown paper bag of fresh bread and a dish of cultured salted butter. Make a reservation in advance, as walk-in space is limited.

In sightline of the Colosseum, Al vino Al vino is an unassuming neighborhood spot that’s perfect for a pre-dinner glass of wine. The front room is where the charm is, with shelves of wine bottles and ceramic tables painted with grapes and vines. Check out the by-the-glass menu that changes weekly, or settle in with a bottle from their extensive selection that has wines from the Alto Adige to Sardegna. Snack on a bowl of crunchy taralli crackers from Puglia or make a light dinner with their famous caponata, a sweet and sour eggplant stew that comes with very good bread for scooping and a mixed plate of cured meat and cheese.


Expand your Rome geography by taking the metro four stops from the Colosseum to Trattoria Trecca. There’s a large, lively dining room with simple wooden tables and chairs, a covered patio outside, and a small bar with a view of the kitchen. The menu is tight and traditional—highlights include the amatriciana that’s served with bucatini, the rich and eggy carbonara, and the padellotto regaje e patate. 

Unless you’re with a big group and a bottle of wine makes more sense, go with the sommelier's by-the-glass natural wine suggestions. Note that there are timed seatings here, and they watch the clock carefully. If you go for Saturday lunch, you can stop in at one of four papal basilicas, Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

There are plenty of mediocre places to eat near the Colosseum and Roman Forum, but unlike most of them, you’ll still find some actual locals enjoying a meal here. The menu is a hybrid of Roman, Umbrian, and southern Italian cuisine, and the pasta reflects this mix—the cacio e pepe comes dusted with truffle, the ravioli is stuffed with burrata, and there’s carbonara with fava beans, artichokes, and peas. Look for the seafood specials, as they get all their stuff from the nearby seaside fishing town of Anzio.

You almost certainly know that Italy is famous for its pizza, but what you may not know is that in Rome, full pizza pies (as opposed to slices, called pizza al taglia) are typically eaten at dinner time, not lunch. But if a single slice just won’t do, head to Emma near Campo de' Fiori. The pizza here is soft-crusted Neapolitan-style with toppings like the best buffalo mozzarella from Paestum, tomatoes from the slopes of Vesuvius, prosciutto from Tuscany, and anchovies from Sicily. There’s an excellent wine list, an interesting collection of craft beers, outside seating under umbrellas, and a modern, bright dining room.

This narrow space in the Jewish Ghetto, which translates to Beppe and his cheeses, squeezes in a lot. Along one wall is a glass case filled with cheese and butter and salumi, and on top of the counter are artisan pastas, olive oil, cookies, and chocolate. There’s a small row of tables next to the shelves of wine bottles where you can sample all of this. 

Start with a plate of mixed cheeses that will have things like smoked pecorino, ash-covered goat cheese, fresh milky mozzarella topped with shavings of briney bottarga, or giallina, an alpine cow's milk cheese of their own production. If you’re visiting during white truffle season in late fall or winter, get the tajarin al tartufo bianco.

This Danish Italian cafe is a popular spot for locals to come in the morning to work, have lunch, or a rare-for-Rome brunch on the weekends. They serve things like pastries, omelets, and salads, natural wine, and daily sandwich and pasta specials. Grab a danish carnival bun and a spot at the long communal table and practice your Italian with somebody who lives in the neighborhood.


Pizza al taglio is the perfect snack, especially if it comes from this bakery behind the flower sellers in the Campo de' Fiori. Long strips of pizza bianca get topped with tomato sauce or thinly sliced potatoes, or get stuffed with mortadella or zucchini flowers. Take it all to go and eat it while leaning against a fountain in view of a palace that Michelangelo designed in the next piazza over.

The train station probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you want a great meal, but if you walk to the farthest end of the Termini Station just past the rental car counters, you’ll find a vast marble-clad space that once served as the dining hall for railway workers. 

Grab a cappuccino and cornetto for breakfast before an early train, or a Sicilian ricotta-stuffed savory pie, a slice of pizza, or even some rich ramen for lunch or dinner. Once you have your food, sit down and order with a server if you want an on-tap craft beer, wine, or a cocktail. They’re open from 7:30am to 11:00pm (midnight on weekends), so it’s a nice flexible option if you’re just looking for an off-hours snack.

The Testaccio market is one of Rome’s best covered markets, and many of the stalls have been in families for generations selling fish, meat, and produce, plus a number of food stalls that serve things like fresh pasta, pizza, and sandwiches.

Head to Casa Manco for pizza rossa that’s spiked with chili and a scattering of parsley and mint, or to Morde e Vai, a sandwich shop that serves up crusty rolls filled with stewed beef, tripe, meatballs, or straccetti. You can also grab one of the eight stools in front of Da Corrado al Banco 18 for a glass of natural wine and pick between their pasta of the day and the meatballs (alternatively, do both). The market is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30am until 2:30pm, though heads up that not everything is open on Mondays.

A beautiful view rarely translates to a delicious meal in Rome. But there are exceptions to every rule, and that’s where Camillo a Piazza Navona comes in. Before the pandemic, Camillo catered to tourists and served bland spaghetti, but they’ve since pivoted to a menu of terrific Roman pastas, Japanese-style tempura, and an excellent hamburger. Come for a morning cappuccino or late afternoon spritz and sit in front of Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers and snack on some homemade potato chips, or pop by for a great meal outside of traditional dinner hours.

Trapizzino started out in a cramped space in Testaccio, but now has five more locations in Rome, a few in Milan, and even one in New York City. The Trastevere spot is the one you should visit, though, as it has plenty of seating and an interesting Lazio-centric wine list. Try the vinegar-laced chicken cacciatore, the slow-cooked beef with tomatoes and onions, or the creamy burrata topped with salty anchovies. One trappizzino makes a good snack, but order a few along with some suppli and a cold beer and you have a nice casual lunch or dinner.


Otaleg (which yes, is gelato spelled backward) serves all-natural scoops of gelato from a narrow shop that’s located in-between two of Trastevere’s main piazzas. This spot was founded by a former employee of Claudio Torcè, one of Rome’s first of the gourmet wave of gelato makers. Try the Pistacchio al Quadrato paired with a scoop of rich dark chocolate. The fruit flavors change with the season, and are dairy-free.

Even if it’s your tenth time in Rome, you’ll probably still end up at the Trevi Fountain. Weave past the restaurants trying to lure you in for a lackluster lunch and come to this family-run gelateria instead. The selection is small, since everything’s made in the back kitchen. Don’t skip the house specialty: caffe affogato con semifreddo allo zabaglione, a perfect combination of hot coffee and sweet cold eggy cream.

The flavors at this small gelato shop are creative and refreshing, like ginger and apple, mixed citrus and fresh chili pepper, and one option made with beer. There are also refrigerator cases for individual portions of semifreddo desserts like tiramisu and zabaglione. Take your cone across the street and peer over the railing to see the spot where Julius Caesar was assassinated—today, it’s filled with lots of lazy, well-cared-for kittens.

Everything this shop in Monti makes is made from entirely raw ingredients, from the cakes to the chocolates to their gelato. (It’s also all gluten- and lactose-free, plus vegan.) The flavor range is small with only six different types, but the distilled flavors of nuts like pistachio and hazelnut and chocolate really shine. If you miss it in Monti, there’s also a second, smaller location in the Ghetto next to the Fontana delle Tartarughe.

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