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.
Recommended for Italian because: Grappolo D'Oro Zampano is a great choice for the often tourist crowded tourist center.
Maria's expert tip: Don't forget to order dessert! A house favorite aside from the Tiramisù is the chocolate cake drizzled with cream of bitter oranges on top.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: An old local classic, you'll feel right at home at Hostaria Dino e Toni.
Maria's expert tip: Outdoor seating is the best, especially in the summer. The restaurant lacks good air conditioning and dining al fresco with the exception of the winter months is always preferrable.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Da Gianni Cacio e Pepe brings you great food in its own unique, kitch little way.
Maria's expert tip: Make sure to reserve, otherwise you will wait who knows how long. Dining outside lends a totally different experience than inside. Therefore, request a table outside.
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!
Recommended for Italian because: For when you need a break from cucina romana, Open Baladin is the answer.
Maria's expert tip: Don't miss out on their homemade potato chips. Their flavors include: paprika, garlic and pecorino cheese, and even liquorice.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Il Bacaro brings modern cuisine to you in an ancient location.
Maria's expert tip: Ask about the degustation menu of the day.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: The Italian classic, including all your standard Roman ones are top notch here.
Maria's expert tip: A must try for those with a sweet tooth is their tortino di mele con gelato alla cannella (a miniature cake with gelato made with cinnamon).
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
Recommended for Italian because: For a taste of Sicily in Rome, 'Mpare is hard to beat.
Maria's expert tip: 'Mpare also does a rich apertivo buffet filled with pastas, veggies, and arancini (traditional Sicilian rice balls) everyday from 6-9pm.
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.
Recommended for Italian because: Dine in Rome but be transported to Tuscany at La Mora.
Maria's expert tip: A must try on the menu is the restaurant's 'cecina toscana', a baked focaccia type of appetizer made with flour and chick peas. Delicious!
Mirabelle is perched on the 7th floor of the luxurious Hotel Splendide Royal and is home to one for the most elegant terraces in Rome. Unobstructed views of everything from the Pantheon to the dome of St Peter's Basilica can be enjoyed from the roof garden which acts as a magical panoramic space all year round. Executive Chef Stefano Marzetti and Food and Beverage Director Luca Costanzi run the show here and what a delightful show it is. Their impressive wine cellar boasts a never-ending selection of Italian and international labels (over 700 to be exact) and the refined menu with gourmet touches will delight even the fussiest of fine diners. In addition to the a la carte menu, there are three tasting menus to choose from, including Rome's current complete gluten free degustation consisting of 5 delectable courses. The classic decor with the live piano gives it an olde world cabaret feel. One thing's for sure: the meal, the staff and lively atmosphere will more than impress. The view will leave you speechless. Metro: Barberini.
Recommended for Italian because: Mirabelle offers quality Italian dining with spectacular views of Rome.
Maria's expert tip: Try to get in before the sun sets for a pre-dinner cocktail with unforgettable views of the city.
Alcazar Live has brought a big city vibe to Rome's ever changing nightlife scene in the venue that formerly housed a cinema. When the independent cinema closed in 2016, locals were up in arms. But Alcazar owners Luca Carinici and Imelda Lapardhaja have done a spectacular job keeping the cultural spirit of the place alive, their motto: 'Where cinema comes to life'. The multipurpose space now acts as a bar, live music venue, nightclub and somewhere you can still catch a film screening. The top floor (where the projection equipment used to sit) is now the Alcazar Hostaria. With floor to ceiling glass overlooking the main floor and iconic lit up Alcazar signage and stage, it offers the best seats in the house. Here kick off with a red shrimp carpaccio or even a first course like pasta with raspberry wild boar rag� or the classic Roman amatriciana. Main course could be anything from a tender pork belly with lentil, fennel and orange to salmon with creme fraiche and hibiscus. The menu is inventive without being over the top and the intimate setting with low lights makes it the perfect spot for a dinner pre-show or dance downstairs. Open 7:30pm to midnight daily. Tram: 8, Bus: 23, 75, H
Recommended for Italian because: Food lovers and film buffs rejoice - this is a bistro inside a former cinema.
Maria's expert tip: Book for dinner and stay for the live show. Entry to the restaurant gives you priority access to the club.