Finding good food in Rome is not difficult but particularly around the main attractions it can be challenging.
One important thing to bear in mind is that Italians eat later than in other places. In Italy lunch is from 1-3 and dinner no earlier than 8pm, most restaurants are closed in between. If you want a nibble in between, there are places that sell Pizza ‘Al Taglio’ (by the slice) and many bars have sandwiches. If you are hungry between 6-8 you can go for an ‘Aperitivo’ drink with nibbles included, this should keep you going till Italian dinner time.
There are a number of options when looking for a meal; prices, décor and service vary:
Ristorante €€€ The highest priced establishment, usually with fine tablecloths and wine glasses and well-dressed waiters
Trattoria €€– very traditional, possible a simple red and white checked tablecloth, less frills
Osteria € – often a small family-run establishment with no frills – maybe just a piece of paper for a placemat and a tumbler for your wine
Pizzeria € – serves Pizza and fried starters. Look for the ‘Forno a legna’ which means wood oven and traditional places divide the list between Pizza Rossa (with tomato sauce) and Pizza Bianca (without).
Because Rome is a popular destination, many restaurants (particularly around the monuments) cater for the tourist market, prices are higher and the dishes and their quality may not be the best you can find.
• Be wary of places in the tourist zones, or right in front of the monuments. You need to walk at least 5/10 minutes away and go into the back streets where you may find an unexpected gem!
• Advertisement - Tourist restaurants usually have staff outside with menus trying to seduce you into their establishments with the ‘fresh’ ingredients and ‘traditional food’.
• Pictures – These are for the tourists - do we really need a picture of a salad or a Carbonara???
• Translations – If the menu is translated in 5 languages… walk away. It should be in Italian only, maybe English – this means they are trying to share their cuisine.
• All day venues - Places that are open all day or are open for dinner at 5pm are not for the locals.
Armando Al Pantheon €€€
Salita dei Crescenzi, 31, 00186 Roma RM
A long-standing restaurant serving hearty, traditional Roman fare in a wood-panelled dining room. Armando is world-famous and booking is recommended.
Alle Carette €
Via della Madonna dei Monti, 95, 00184 Roma RM
Hidden down an alley just steps from the Colosseum, Alle Carette has the best pizza in the area. Popular with locals and visitors alike, they offer a wide selection of pizzas, quick and friendly service.
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali €€
Via della Madonna dei Monti, 9, 00184 Roma RM
Just steps from the Roman Forum a casual, traditional restaurant, renowned for classic & creative home-cooked pasta & grill dishes.
Le Tavernelle €€
Via Panisperna, 48, 00184 Roma RM
At the top end of Monti close to Via Nazionale is a long-running trattoria hung with celebrity photos. It specialises in traditional Roman dishes including Tripe.
Trattoria "Luzzi" €
Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 88, 00184 Roma RM
Bustling, down-to-earth trattoria renowned for its classic, wood-oven pizzas & pasta dishes. Loud and thoroughly Roman.
Hostaria Isidoro Al Colosseo €€
Via di S. Giovanni in Laterano, 59/A, 00184 Roma RM
Charming family restaurant with some of the best home-made pasta dishes, both traditional and innovative combinations. Great selection of wines and good service. Try the tasting menus!
Charlotte - Cafè & Entrecote €€
Via Barberini, 9, 00187 Roma (closed Sunday)
Just off Piazza Barberini, this modern Bistro is open all day. Busy throughout the day offering breakfast and lunch to locals working in the offices and embassies it has a separate lunch and dinner menu. Fresh dishes with quality produce offering something a little different from the standard Roman fare. Good quality wines and friendly English-speaking staff.
La Prosciutteria, Via della Panetteria 34, €/€€
A tiny little place near the Trevi fountain offering sandwiches to take away or meat and cheese boards, assorted bruschetta and great wines (if you manage to get a seat). Must try the Finocchiona (Salami with Fennel)!!
There are many restaurants around the Vatican, you should avoid those that are directly in front of the museums or surrounding St Peter’s basilica. The area around Piazza Risorgimento and beyond the metro stop Ottaviano are more traditional and reasonably priced.
Knick Knack Yoda, Piazza Del Risorgimento 11, €/€€
Alternative family-run paninoteca serving homemade gastro burgers (Beef, Sausage, Chicken and Vegetable) made with great combinations of fresh Italian ingredients and artigianale/organic micro brewed ales. Look out for the ‘sandwich of the day’. In the evening the owner/DJ plays techno for a local crowd.
Luma Bistro, Via Otranto, 27 €/€€
Great lunch spot near Ottaviano hidden behind Feltrinelli. Luma is a small, bright restaurant offering lunch and dinner menus with daily specials. Nice selection of wine and all products are locally sourced.
Bella Napoli, Via Simone de Saint Bon, 57 €€
Popular local restaurant a little off the track from the Vatican. Huge selection of traditional dishes from pizza to pasta and specialising in fish. (closed Monday). Great place for the family!