Situated a stone's throw from Rome's Parliament, da Gino is one of those family run places that surprises for its mix of a traditional menu and great location in the historic center. Since 1963, this trattoria has been serving excellent Roman specialties to visitors, politicians and everyone in between. And inside, the paintings on the wall seem as if they date from the day it opened: the bright blues and greens of idyllic Italian scenes are accented by snippets of Roman food sayings. Ask for the seasonal specialty of the day, like tagliolini with guanciale and artichokes in late winter. Reservations necessary. BUS: 62, 63, 81, 85, 117
Recommended for Homestyle because: Between the food and service, you'll feel a real part of the family at Cavalier Gino.
Maria's expert tip: Be sure to ask for what's seasonal and on the specials of the day list. You won't be disappointed.
Take the 8 tram through Trastevere and to the last stop where Da Cesare al Casaletto is just yards away from the tram's terminus. Getting out of the center brings down the price slightly and raises the food's quality. At da Cesare you'll find all of the Roman pastas and meat dishes like beef involtini, rolled beef cooked in tomato sauce, though don't leave without trying some of da Cesare's fried foods, like calamari, baccal� (salted cod) and even fried gnocchi. Though the food is homestyle, the look of the place is less hole-in-the-wall and more open bright space. Make sure to try the panna cotta topped with caramel for dessert. Reservations necessary. TRAM: 8
Recommended for Homestyle because: In the last year, named the best trattoria in Rome, Da Cesare never disappoints.
Maria's expert tip: In the evenings and especially on weekends you're unlikely to get a table without a booking, so call way in advance.
Only in Italy can a pizzeria make the cut as a homestyle restaurant because in Italy pizza is not fast food but a traditional dish. At Li Rioni, the fast-paced family feel of the place is enhanced by its tasty and classic pizzas. Crowd in with the locals at dinnertime and order a pizza capricciosa or a pizza with tomatoes, rughetta and mozzarella di bufala. Like all good Roman pizzas, those at Li Rioni are thin and crispy. If it's warm weather, book a table outside to dine with a view of the Colosseum. METRO: Colosseo BUS: 85, 87, 117
Recommended for Homestyle because: Some of Rome's best pizza in a super central location.
Maria's expert tip: During the warmer months sit outside for a sneaky Colosseum view. Oh and try the capricciosa!
Head out of Rome's center on the 105 tram from Termini to Torpignattara, not far from the Pigneto area, for some of the city's best homestyle food. The dishes at Osteria Bonelli are simple and cheap and are ordered off a chalkboard menu. Patrizio, the cook, chooses what food he'll be serving according to what produce is available and what's in season, so expect in-season, fresh dishes alongside the classics like cacio e pepe and amatriciana. And if you're feeling like a culinary adventure, go on Tuesdays or Thursdays when you can try horsemeat specialties. Bookings are recommended. TRAM: 105
Recommended for Homestyle because: You really can't beat the prices and quality at Osteria Bonelli.
Maria's expert tip: Especially at dinner time, don't even turn up if without a reservation.
The spotless white interior of this family-run restaurant between Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Navona speaks to its simplicity. But to experience it, first you must get in. The drawn curtains and locked door might fool you into thinking the restaurant is closed, but ring the bell (and before you go, make a reservation) and if the owners think you're worthy of eating there, they'll let you in. In the kitchen, Teresa cooks up Roman specialties on a limited menu of pastas, like gnocchi and tomato sauce on Thursdays, and meat and vegetable dishes. Save room for dessert, a rich piece of homemade montblanc. BUS: 40, 62, 64
Recommended for Homestyle because: Walk in from the chaos of Rome's streets and feel right at home at Settimio al Pellegrino.
Maria's expert tip: Make sure you leave some space. The homemade montblanc is to die for.
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 coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail). 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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Checchino is still known among locals for serving up the best old-school cucina romana (roman cuisine).
Maria's expert tip: Ask your waiter for the specials of the day as the menu is always based on locally sourced and in-season produce.
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
Recommended for Homestyle because: The quintessential Roman hole-in-the-wall trattoria will become your Rome home away from home.
Maria's expert tip: Order the creamy burrata cheese and stuffed fried zucchini to start, whatever you want in between and the marscapone mousse with wild strawberries to finish.
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. METRO: Ottaviano
Recommended for Homestyle because: Large and tasty portions, this is centrally located and frequented by locals and tourists alike.
Maria's expert tip: Outdoor seating is the best, especially in the summer.
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.
Recommended for Homestyle because: Family run, you will feel at home from the minute you walk in.
Maria's expert tip: Don't leave without checking out all the pictures of famous diners on the wall. You'll be sure to recognize quite a few!
Another Roman restaurant serving up the city's classic dishes, Flavio al Velavevodetto is located in an unusual place, under the tossed off terra cotta pots (or amphorae) of Ancient Rome known as Monte Testaccio. Come here for local specialties such as the coda alla vaccinara, or oxtail stewed in a tasty tomato sauce, and one of Rome's best carbonara. For dessert, Flavio al Velavevodetto's tiramisu in a cup can't be beat for it's super creamy mascarpone mixed with chocolate pieces and more chocolate sauce. The staff are friendly and in the warmer months there is a terrace dining area. METRO: Piramide BUS: 83, 75
Recommended for Homestyle because: For family and homestyle cooked food in a unique setting, Flavio's is sure hard to beat!
Maria's expert tip: Try the polpette di bollito (crumbed fried shredded meatballs), the ultimate in homestyle comfort food.