Eating out in Rome: beyond pasta and pizza
Eating out in Rome is a remarkable experience thanks to the importance Romans place on eating delicious food. However, it does come at a price. The old town, including the medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere may be a minefield of overpriced, tourist-trap restaurants but there are always exceptions where you can enjoy carefully prepared quality products to match all wallets.
You can’t really say you have visited Rome if you haven’t munched on a slice of freshly made pizza– even if it is a Neapolitan invention – or savoured a cup or cone of piled-high gelato from one of Rome’s delightful gelaterias.
Read on to discover our round-up of Rome’s top eateries but don’t hesitate to ask locals for recommendations – they may reveal the latest culinary jewel the city has to offer!
Fine-dining in Rome
There are dazzling fine-dining establishments, steeped in decades of culinary know-how, in the Eternal City. If you are serious about food, book ahead to enjoy a memorable meal at one of the following establishments:
- Il Pagliaccio (Banchi Vechi, 129A): Located in the heart of the old town and helmed by the chef Anthony Genovese, this two-starred Michelin restaurant offers a unique refined dining experience. The fusion of Mediterranean and oriental influences translates into classic, yet cutting-edge Italian cuisine. Try the tasting menu to savour some of the chef’s signature dishes.
- Marco Martini Restaurant (Viale Aventino, 121): Come discover the culinary mastery of Michelin-starred chef Marco Martini and his team in a lovely, contemporary setting. Traditional Italian flavours and cuisine are elevated but never sacrificed in the preparation of inventive dishes that explode into a sensory wonderland.
- Armando al Pantheon (Salita dei Crescenzi, 3): Conveniently located in the proximity of some of Rome’s most iconic monuments, this cosy, tiny restaurant has been delighting patrons with traditional Italian cuisine since 1964. The man with his name on the menu, Armando Gargioli, has kept local and international gastronomes coming back for his delectable dishes.
Affordable dining in Rome
Eating out in Rome for less than 20 Euros is not an impossible feat. There are the local osterias offering short menus with three or four daily Italian dishes. There are also establishments serving ethnic cuisine and fast-casual food. Here are the three places to check out if travelling on a shoe-string budget:
- Ciao Checca (Piazza di Firenze, 25-26): This modern but unfussy eatery serves up authentic Italian dishes in carton containers at an amazing quality-price ratio.
- Il Corno d’Africa (Folco Portinari, 7): This quaint eatery prepares succulent, traditional African dishes that are well worth a stop.
- L’Antica birreria Peroni (San Marcello, 19): Peroni is one of the most famous brands of Italian beer and this bar has been serving it since 1906. Come enjoy a Peroni with a comforting dish of homemade pasta that seems to come straight out of an Italian mamma’s
Getting away from the hustle-and-bustle of tourists in Rome is possible. Enjoy authentic Italian cuisine as you rub shoulders with locals at these off-the-beaten-track restaurants:
- Per me
- Da Gino al Parlamento (Vicolo Rosini, 4): This old-world trattoria gets its name from its close proximity to Rome’s parliamentary building. It has been serving scrumptious home-style Italian dishes since 1963 to patrons looking to eat well at a fair price.
- Retrobottega (Stelletta, 4): This sleek, modern establishment, located between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, is much more than a restaurant – it’s a food lab. Culinary innovation and creativity transform seasonal, local sourced food into the most surprising cuisine. Open from noon to midnight Tuesday to Sunday, their wine bar is just as serious as their cooking.
- Cul de Sac (Piazza di Pasquino, 73): This wine bar is one of the oldest enotecas in the city. Choose from more than 1,500 Italian wines and pair it with yummy regional foods. What better way to bring out the flavours of the Italian terroir?
Romantic dining in Rome
Rome provides the perfect, dreamy backdrop to rekindle those amorous flames over a romantic, candlelit dinner for two at these restaurants:
- Metamorfosi (Giovanni Antonelli, 30): Patrons come to this Michelin-starred restaurant, nestled in the Parioli district, to savour the creative cuisine prepared with seasonal products at the hands of the Columbian chef Roy Salomón Cáceres in a quiet and intimate setting.
- Le Jardin de Russie (Babuino, 9): For a dreamlike evening in a luxurious setting, this establishment promises an upscale experience. You can even enjoy the delicious fine cuisine in a ‘secret garden’ – impossible not to fall under the charm of the Eternal City.
- Enoteca La Torre (Lungotevere delle Armi, 29): Located in the stunning Villa Laetitia, this Michelin-starred restaurant delivers an unparalleled fine-dining experience in an elegant Art Nouveau décor.