Pizza, Pasta and Panoramas: The Best Restaurants in Rome
By Maria Pasquale
Rome Local Expert
When it comes to eating out in Rome, if you're not in the know, restaurants can be a little hit or miss. Restaurants in the Eternal City come a dime a dozen and so do tourist traps unfortunately. That's why it helps having an inside source like 10Best to guide your palate in the right direction. If traditional Roman fare is what you're looking for, you can't go wrong with little hole-in-the-wall restaurants like Da Enzo or mouth-watering paper thin Roman-style pizza at Remo in Testaccio. And head to Open Baladin where all the locals are on the hunt for great burgers and craft beer - the latest foodie phenomena to hit Rome.
Or perhaps you're looking for something a little bit more up scale to make your Roman Holiday complete? How about a 3-Michelin star dining experience at the exclusive rooftop restaurant, La Pergola that boasts one of the most stunning views of the Roman skyline? Now that's what we call living La Dolce Vita!
Wherever you choose to eat, always take the advice of your waiter. If there is something fresh in or in season, you can bet it's going to be delicious. And be adventurous. You might not get an opportunity to order every day some of the classics that make up Roman cuisine and this is your chance.
For those looking to add a little more bling to their dining experience and when money isn't a question, eating at La Pergola restaurant is the icing on the cake. It will turn your Roman Holiday into the ultimate Dolce Vita experience. The exclusive restaurant located on the rooftop of the swanky Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It boasts the best view of the city thanks to its prime position perched atop the Monte Mario hill of Rome. With 3 michelin stars, it is ranked among the top 50 restaurants in the world. The sommelier can advise you on the best pairing of wine (over 1800 labels) to choose from with your meal. Award-winning chef, Heinz Beck whips up refined and innovative dishes such as veal fillet with black truffles and apple puree, carpaccio of scallops on amaranth, and beef tartare on liquorice-gelatine with caviar. Expect to pay a pretty penny (at least 150 euro a person and that's on the low-end of the spectrum). BUS: 913. (;+39 06 3509 2152)
Grappolo D'Oro Zampanò
When it comes to being in the Campo de' Fiori area, it's easy to stumble upon a slew of tourist trap restaurants and bad service. Because the neighborhood is a main attraction for tourists, many restaurants care little about the quality of their food. Except for Grappolo D'Oro Zampano of course. While a majority of its clientele is tourists, this charming little restauranst located in the heart of Campo de' Fiori serves up a hearty Roman menu that makes it a favorite among the locals as well. The tagliolini pasta made with artichokes and pork is to die for. Traditional Roman dishes such as rigatoni all'amatriciana and pasta carbonara also can't be beat. BUS: 40, 46, 62. (06-6897080)
Agata e Romeo
Agata and Romeo Caraccio run this quintessential temple to Roman fine dining that has been in Agata's family for three generations. Romeo is the expert sommelier with over 1500 labels in his cellar and Agata, his wife, is in the kitchen preparing her unique and updated versions of many different traditional Roman delights. The menu changes according to the seasons. The signature dish is Cacio e Pepe Agata-style - Agata's interpretation of this simple Roman pasta dish featuring pecorino cheese and pepper. For dessert, be sure to save room for her classic millefoglie, filled with sweet cream and available year-round. Reservations necessary. METRO: Vittorio Emanuele; BUS: Santa Maria Maggiore (06-4466115)
Hostaria Dino e Toni
Hostaria Dino e Toni is your typical family run trattoria that continues to win over locals and tourists everytime. The small restaurant is located just a short distance from the Vatican Museums. It's best known for its variety and large portions. Although there's a menu to order from, it's always best to trust Dino with the ordering. He'll keep the antipasti della casa (i.e. fritti, salumi, cheese, bruschette, pizza and more) coming. If you've haven't filled up yet, he'll recommend you try 'due assaggini' (two samples) or half portions of pasta which are usually amatriciana and carbonara. The house wine is also pretty decent. Make sure to call and reserve as this place gets packed. BUS: 492, 23. METRO: Ottaviano, Cipro. (06 39733284)
Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
Alessio and his wife Maria have created a homey ambiance in their small, family-run restaurant. Here, just a stone-throw away from the Coliseum, enjoy the beauty of Italian cuisine and hospitality. The recipes are a selection of Sicilian, Roman and Umbrian (the ancestral stomping grounds), plus the chef's innovations. Recommendations count for a lot here: let the waiter or waitress advise your selection. And if you're still not convinced, you can't go wrong with their tasty bruschette to start and then any one of the pastas on the menu. Local ingredients and classic family recipes are a recipe for yum. Reservation required. Metro: Colosseo. (06-6798643)
If you're looking for a pub or birreria that's all about 'Made in Italy', look no further than Open Baladin near Campo de' Fiori. Some might classify it as a pub. While others as a locale that specializes in hand crafted beer. In fact, Open Baladin serves up more than 100 types of artisanal beers produced in Italy. Forty of their beers are on tap. Yes, you read right. 40! Though, the atmosphere is laid back here with its tall wooden table tops and chairs; it's nothing like your average rowdy sports bar or pub. Open Baladin specializes in pub grub with a kick: chicken strips marinated in curry, burgers made in all shapes and sizes, hot dogs, Caesar Salad and even dessert made with beer! (06 6838989)
Hosteria da Giggetto
Located in one of Rome's most characteristic neighborhoods, Hosteria da Giggetto serves up traditional Jewish Roman cooking old school style. A well-worn but much-loved traditional restaurant, tourists and locals alike flock to the outdoor seating options during the summer months and beyond. Visitors who wish to try Carciofi alla Giudea (Deep friend whole artichokes) or fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers) or pasta dishes like caccio e pepe will find a wide selection for everyone. Roman-style pizza with fresh artichokes and a variety of toppings are served in a delightful setting in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto. The restaurant can be be described as down home Roman Jewish cooking for all. (06 686 1105)
Located in the heart of the working class district of Testaccio, Remo's pizza is hard to top. This pizza place is most famous for its paper thin (literally) pizza. Don't be thrown off by the size of the pizza. You CAN finish one on your own thanks to its wonderfully Roman-style thin crust, eating a whole pie is easily digestible. Menus don't exactly exist here, so be prepared to have in mind what kind of toppings you'll pick out for your pizza. A waiter will come around with a scorecard of sorts where you will check off the ingredients for pizza and other items to go along with your dinner order. Outdoor tables available, but expect to wait in line if you arrive late. BUS: 170, 30. METRO: Piramide (06-5746270)
Checchino dal 1887
If you ask a Roman who knows their food where you should head for real food they will undoubtedly send you to the area of Testaccio, not far from the historical center. Ask them where to eat in Testaccio for authentic cucina romana - they'll say Checchino. It features traditional Roman favorites, with an added twist to some of the dishes. If you are feeling adventurous, you may want to try the tripe or veal hearts with artichokes or oxtail stew. For more conventional diners, there is a wide selection of pastas, salads and meat dishes. The Italian desserts are outstanding. Reservations recommended. BUS: 30. TRAM: 3. METRO: Piramide. (06-5743816)
For traditional cucina romana (roman cuisine), the best place to go to is Da Enzo. It's literally a hole-in-the-wall with maybe about 10 or 12 tables. Da Enzo definitely does up the most mind-blowing carciofi alla giudia (Jewish style fried artichokes) and keeps it real with their classic pasta dishes like carbonara (egg and pork cheek), amatriciana (tomato and pork cheek) and cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and peppper)and local offal dishes like tripe and braised oxtail (coda alla vaccinara). Throw in a bottle of house wine and dessert and you might walk out only spending about 20 euro a person! BUS: 23, H. TRAM: 8 (06.5812260)
About Maria Pasquale
Born to Italian parents, Maria always knew Rome was her destiny, although she was raised in Melbourne. She has a formal background in political science and policy and now runs her own event management & PR company, through which she manages marketing & social media for Eating Italy Food Tours in Rome. An unabashed romantic (Rome being her one true love!) she is the creator of popular food, travel and lifestyle blog HeartRome (www.heartrome.com). In Rome you'll find her walking the streets of Trastevere, checking out the latest bar for an aperitivo or dining with friends.
Read more about Maria Pasquale here.