Best Italian Restaurants in Rome: Try Authentic Roman Food
By Maria Pasquale
Rome Local Expert
The world over, when you mention Italy, the one thing that will come to mind is, food. And when it comes to eating in Rome, good restaurants run the gamut from Japanese and Indian to grabbing a simple pizza at a little ol' pizzeria. But perhaps, nothing takes the cake than grabbing a bite to eat at one of the Eternal City's top rated Italian eateries. Whether you're looking for something modern, casual, mom-and-pop or a mix of all of the above, Rome certainly has something for all walks of life and wallet sizes.
With Italian cuisine renowned for being not only seasonal but regional, you don't even have to leave Rome to get a taste of some of Italy's other cities or regions. Across the city you can find a wide variety of restaurants that specialize in regional dishes from Rome, Naples and Venice to coastal seaside locations like Sicily and Calabria. In fact, most regions of Italy are represented by their cuisine here in the eternal city.
While you don't have to venture too far from the historical center, inner city neighborhoods like Testaccio, Trastevere and Monti are packed full of worthy and diverse dining options. So check out 10Best's list for the top 10 Italian eateries in Rome.
For some of the best meat in town, look no further than Bisteak restaurant. This western-style decorated restaurant is located in the Nomentana/Montesacro area of Rome is one of the best places in Rome when it comes to eating steak. The restaurant features all types of cuts of beef and sirloin for you to choose from. What's even better is they have an actual butcher set up where you can choose the style and weight of your meat and they cook it for you right on the spot. Talk about transparency! There aren't too many places that will let you see up close the cut of your meat and allow you to choose which piece you want before cooking it. While the pizza is also pretty good here, your best bet is sto stick with the steak (hence the name, Bisteak). The Argentine and the Australian-style cuts are the best of the bunch. Make sure to order the broccoletti ripassata and the ciccoria ripassata as well. They're to die for. Also not to be missed are their delicious home made french fries (yum) and their very own paper-thin potato chips (also made right in the restaurant). (0641792126)
9 Grappolo D'Oro Zampanò
Believe it or not, in and around the centro storico being in the heart of it all doesn't always gaurantee you'll find a good restaurant. One exception though is Grappolo D'Oro Zampanò. Unlike the slew of tourist traps around the Campo de' Fiori area, this little restaurant is always bustling with tourists but locals especially love to come here. Grappolo D'Oro Zampanò is a classic little trattoria that underwent a major overhaul in 2003, expanding its restaurant location and menu as well. For starters, one should order the 'Antipasti della Casa' which includes: Burratina cheese, salami, a sort of ricotta and eggplant pudding,zucchini flowers. For first course dishes, this restaurant serves up some of the best Roman classics: Carbonara, Amatriciana and Cacio e Pepe. For second course dishes, don't miss out on the involtini (rolled and stuffed veal with radicchio and smoked scamorza cheese). BUS: 40, 46, 62. (06-6897080)
8 Hostaria Dino e Toni
Hostaria Dino e Toni is your typical mom-and-pop type of 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, salame, 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 is usually pasta amatriciana and carbonara. The house wine is also pretty decent. Make sure to call and reserve as this place gets packed. (06 39733284)
7 Da Gianni Cacio e Pepe
The restaurant's official name is Da Gianni Cacio e Pepe, but to locals it's referred to as the 'Posta' because of its very kitsch outdoor seating area right smack dab in front of the post office's door. But nevermind the appearance, the quality of the food is what's good here. As the name suggest, the restaurant is best noted for its tonarelli Cacio e Pepe and it also makes a mean pasta carbonara. Don't expect to get a menu here. The waitress tells you exactly what there is and that's exactly what you get. Plain and simple. Prices are more than reasonable especially since the portions are more than hearty. (Trattoria Da Gianni)
6 Open Baladin
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 other would categorize it 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)
5 Il Bacaro
Located between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, Il Bacaro is romantic and small, and each table is adorned with dripping candles. Some of the best Italian wines available can be found on their wine list. The spinach risotto makes a great starter, followed by a beef fillet or venison dish. There are some vegetarian options too. The white walls are sparingly decorated with simple frescoes. During the summer months, there are some tables outside surrounded by trellised plants. The chef offers an ever-changing degustation menu of the day where you can sample a range of seasonal plates. Reservations recommended. Metro: Spagna. (06-6872554)
4 Osteria degli Amici
Most people go to Testaccio looking to paint the town red. As it's the hub for Rome's best nightlife, this neighborhood gets jumping with tourists and locals on the weekends. Another good reason to come to Testaccio is for its slew of good restaurants. Osteria degli Amici is a good find just up the street from the strip where all of Testaccio's nightclubs are at. This little restaurant was started by two friends who got their start in the business working at one of Rome's most luxurious hotels. The restaurant serves great Roman dishes such as tonnarelli cacio e pepe and bucatini all'amatriciana. They also do great second courses such as sea bass, tuna steak and other light tasting dishes that go well in those hot summer months. METRO: Piramide BUS: 23. (06 578 1466)
For those who can't make it down to Sicily to indulge in their delicious desserts, going to 'Mpare in the Piazza Bologna district of the city is the next best thing. Indeed, when it comes to traditional Sicilian desserts, no one does cannoli and cassata siciliana quite like 'Mpare. The locale is a cross between a bakery and caf� where no matter what time of the day you go, you'll always find a crowd. That's because over the years, the bakery has become a punto di ritrovo (meeting place) for university students, working professionals and locals that live in the area. Not up for dessert? 'Mpare also whips up some pretty amazing arancini (rice balls) with flavors ranging from ragu, pistacchio, salmon and spinach. The owners of the bakery-caf� are from Catania, Sicily and are always make all of their guests feel right at home. METRO: Bologna (06.44252368)
2 Ristorante Toscano "La Mora"
Whether you're looking to go for a simple pizza with friends or for a hearty dish of pasta, La Mora is the perfect place to come to. It's location is positioned in a lovely little piazza across the street from a mini outdoor market just around the corner from the famous park, Villa Ada. In the Spring and Summer months, one needs to call well ahead to guarantee yourself a prime spot outside where one dines al fresco. At La Mora, one could never go wrong with what you order as pretty much everything is good. The restaurant specializes in dishes from the Tuscan region. Some of the best dishes are: Pappardelle al Cinghiale (pasta made with wild boar sauce) and Fettuccine ai funghi Porcini (fettuccine pasta made with porcini mushrooms). BUS: 92, 80, 38. (06 8620 6613)
1 Osteria Il Pulcino Ballerino
For over 26 years, childhood friends Fabio and Luciano have been churning out authentic and hearty meals at Osteria Il Pulcino Ballerino. Some of the restaurant's absolute showstoppers are: Taglioni del Pulcino (made with a delicious cream lemon sauce) and a spin on classics like pasta carbornara made with fried artichokes and Tagliolini Cacio e Pepe al Tartufo (taglioni made with black pepper, pecorino cheese and truffles. The restaurant is located in Rome's bohemian arts and student district called San Lorenzo. The restaurant has an intimate atmopshere and a long list of decadent desserts that won't ever leave you disappointed. BUS: 492 (06.4941255, 338.793735)
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.