The Best in Rome
Rome Restaurants: TRASTEVERE, TESTACCIO, VATICAN
In the shadow of the Vatican, this little trattoria is the brainchild of a group of actors and a director. All the food is certified organic, with breads by the famous pizza king, Gabriele Bonci, and the great bakers of the Roscioli family, d.o.l. cheeses, salamis from Le Marche, local fresh-caught fish and fruits and vegetables from the best local suppliers. The menu includes organic salads, raw foods, juices, and hot meals in the evening In addition to the restaurant, they will be offering catering and home delivery.
Borgo Pio 34, tel 06 6821 0122
This is just the sort of place we love, a cozy trattoria, serving good Italian food at reasonable prices. Just opened, but retaining all the atmosphere of old Trastevere, they serve traditional dishes as well as seafood specialities. The cuisine is created by Roman cooks who inherited the Capitoline culinary wisdom from generation to generation. The restaurant has two dining rooms inside, as well as outdoor tables in warmer weather. Try traditional Roman dishes such as the wonderful stew called "coda alla vaccinara," "abbachio", a scrumptious roasted lamb, and crunchy fried Roman artichokes "alla giudia." All the foods are cooked to order, using organic meats from Lazio, Tuscany and Emilio Romagna. Nice wine selection, and great cakes for dessert.
Via della Scala 34 tel 06 683 33868
Open from 11 am - 4 pm and 6 pm - midnight. Closed Monday
Quirino’s is a recent addition to the long list of Trastevere restaurants. Unannounced from the outside, inside, an old mariner’s bar sign tells you where you are. Chef and owner Quirino, is a shy, taciturn man. Marsia, his more garrulous partner and pastry chef told us that he is driven by his love for Italian cuisine. She said that Quirino’s knowledge of food preparation comes from watching the women in his family and from learning to trust food combinations that appeal to his taste. He prepares traditional Roman dishes with just enough imagination to add interesting variations to the selection of pasta, fish and meat. The airy, informal dining room is decorated in soft colors with reproductions of 18th century Pinelli prints. The cantina, overseen by Marsia’s brother, offers a wide selection of regional wines, grappa and whiskey. €€
Vicolo della scala, 3 tel 06 5830 1885 Open for lunch and dinner.
This restaurant attracts lines of customers on weekends, and many of the tables are filled by Japanese, who know good sushi from bad. We were impressed with both the quality and prices. A mixed sushi platter, at about 21 euro, was enough for two, fresh and varied, with a nicely spiced rice filling. In addition to sushi, there's a selection of traditional Japanese dishes. Try the eggplant as a side dish, it's amazing.
Viale Trastevere 4 tel 06 581 0075
Capo de Fero
One of Rome's few remaining authentic trattorie, this place has been in business for decades, and the low prices and high quality remain the same. Here you can have a lovely meal in a charming setting for a very decent price. The speciality is "rigatoni democratici." No one can remember how the dish got its name, but it's a wonderful pasta in a delicious creamy cheese sauce. The antipasto buffet is expansive and full of all the Roman specialities, perfectly prepared. They also do a wonderful pasta alla carbonaraas well as a variety of grilled fish and meats, and offer a nice selection of cakes and puddings for dessert. Outside tables during the warmer months.
Via San Cosimato, 16 tel 06 581 8038 Closed Wednesdays.
This cozy spot is a cultural center as much as it is a restaurant. Furnished with an eclectic collection of natural woods, oversized pillows, and images of 70's pop icons, it's not only one of the few places in Rome where you can find macrobiotic cooking. It's also a source for shiatsu massages (the first one is free), yoga, Tai-chi and cooking classes, as well as roundtables on philosophy, art and music. The reasonably priced vegan menu includes a delicious banana nut cake made without eggs or butter — you have to taste it to believe it. And the organic beer is produced by the only female brew master in Italy. Visit their website for more details.
Via Mattonato, 42 – tel 06 581 0626 www.tidiro.net
This family run traditional Roman trattoria is the real thing, filled with local Romans who come for the good, unpretentious, traditional cuisine, pleasant atmosphere and reasonable prices. Outside tables on the Viale di Trastevere attract the foot-weary tourists as well as the locals. In addition to the pastas, try the full-flavored chicken marinated with Gaeta olives. And, of course, one of their speciaities is panna cotta, a cooked cream pudding to die for. The Italians like to top it with a chocolate-hazelnut cream, Nutella.
Open everyday for lunch and dinner. Click here for their website.
Viale di Trastevere, 8-14 (near Ponte Garibaldi)
tel. 06. 5806334
Osteria Checco er Carettiere
Francesco “Checco” Porcelli was descended from a long line of carettiere, carters who carried barrels of wine from the Castelli Romani into Rome with horse and carriage. In 1936, he opened his restaurant in the heart of Trastevere. The homey atmosphere, garden seating and traditional Roman dishes quickly attracted a celebrity clientele, beginning with the poet Trilussa and continuing through Federico Fellini to Roberto Begnini. The walls are papered with photographs of the many personalities who have dined there. Porcelli’s children and grandchildren have continued the family tradition, maintaining the kitchen, while raising the prices. In recent years they opened an adjacent bakery, “Il Dolce di Checco er Carettiere” and a gelateria, dispensing outstanding pastries and ice creams. It’s a favorite place in the mornings for a quick cappuccino and a cornetto hot out of the oven.
In the last year, they have added a modern osteria, an updated and less expensive version of the original restaurant. The décor is clean and sparse, although the old frescoes still grace the walls. And the casks of wine, stored in the basement, can be seen through glass bricks in the floor. The menu of is written each day on a large sketch pad displayed on an easel by the door. It’s a mixed selection of traditional dishes like eggplant parmegiano and more adventurous suggestions. Mixed seafood is beautifully prepared, very lightly fried calamari, shrimp and fish. And the desserts from the family restaurant are worth every calorie. €€
Via Benedetta, 10-13 tel. 06.580 0985
Checchino dal 1887
Five generations of the Mariani family have presided over this bastion of authentic Roman cuisine in the working class Testaccio neighborhood. The original “Checchino,” a diminutive for Francesco, was the grandson of the restaurant’s founders. As it was just across from the slaughterhouses, the butchers got into the habit of bringing over the offal, leftover parts of beef, which they were given as part of their salaries. These “extra” bits of meat were called the “quinto quarto,” the fifth quarter of the cow, and the neighborhood came to be known as the “quinto quartiere.” Roman specialities, such as trippa alla romana (tripe in tomato sauce) and coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtails) were created in the kitchens of this historic restaurant. Vegans be warned.
Speciality meats aside, the cuisine is world-class. This year, Checchino was named one of the fifty best restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine. The Testaccio district was once just a mound of broken pottery, a sort of ceramic dumping ground for discarded olive oil jars and wine amphora known as the “monte dei cocci.” An excavation in the mound now forms the restaurant’s wine cellar. €€€.
Via Monte Testaccio, 30 tel. 06.567 6318 Closed Sunday and Monday.
One of the best of the traditional trattorias in the neighborhood, owned and run by an Abruzzese-Roman family, with outdoor seating in the warm months. All the great Roman dishes: amatriciano, roast lamb, saltimbocca. Friendly service and reasonable prices. €€
Via della Luce 5/6/7 tel 06 580 0039 Open for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
Recommended by Lucy Tucci who says they have "the best pasta cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and black pepper) in town. Read about Lucy on our Meet the Romans pages.
An authentic Roman trattoria, serving all the traditional dishes — tonnarelli cacio e pepe, lamb, fried artichokes. Every day of the week, they serve a special dish, gnocchi on Thursdays, of course, stuffed calamari on Fridays. €€
Via Mastrogiorgio 29, tel 06 574 6800 Closed Sunday.
Recommended independently by two Roman residents: Amii Stewart and John Nolan. Read about Amii and John on our Meet the Romans pages.
This little cafeteria-style restaurant looks like a tavola calda, but it belongs to the Volpetti shop around the corner, so everything is so much better, including very good pizza al taglio. It’s a great compromise when you want some real food without getting involved with waiters.
Via Alessandro Volta 8-10, Testaccio, 06-5744306. Closed Sunday.
A Sicilian trattoria specializing in seafood. Try the reasonably priced five-course tasting menu (degustastione).
Piazza della Gensola 15, tel 06 581 63 12 €€
Recommended by Elaine O'Reilly, who says, "marvelous pastas and fish and vegetables that only the Sicilians seem able to cook with such imagination and to such delicious perfection." Read about Elaine on our Meet the Romans pages.
Whether they are seated in the rustic dining room or at one of the outside tables in the tiny vicolo, visitors sigh with pleasure, certain that they have discovered an authentic Roman trattoria, only to be disheartened by the presence of similarly pleased tourists at nearby tables. The restaurant's enthusiastic mention in many guidebooks does attract tourists, but plenty of Romans swear by the place, as well. Although Lucia herself passed away some years ago, the family has maintained the kitchen, serving traditional Roman dishes. The seppie with piselli (cuttlefish with peas) and the rabbit stew are particular favorites, as are the tagliatelle alla gricia (pasta with Italian bacon, pecorino and hot pepper) and spaghetti cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and fresh ground black pepper). Don't forget to order a steamed Roman artichoke in the spring when they're in season. €€
Vicolo del Mattonato 2 tel. 06.580 3601 Closed Monday.
This spacious and modern restaurant began life as a small wine bar, but with its popularity, it has expanded to include several rooms occupying a former seventeenth century convent. The décor is clean and sparse, pale wood and lots of white, the tables topped with colorful painted tiles. It's run by two sisters, one an expert sommelier, who offers a staggering selection of wines, the other a talented chef, who imaginatively updates traditional Italian cuisine. Attached to the restaurant and wine bar is a shop selling gastronomical specialties and wines. Among the antipasti, the Bavarian of goat cheese with dates and pears is especially memorable, and the fish entrees are all fresh and prepared wth a flair for originality. An exceptional apertivo buffet is served in the wine bar from six in the evening. €€€
Piazza Trilussa 41 tel. 06.583 33920
An unlikely haven of cool, contemporary style in the midst of Trastevere's most raucous area, Glass Hosteria is designed with attention to every detail, from the glass displays set into the floor, to the granite placemats, the hanging garden of cone-shaped lamps that adorn the ceiling — even the rest rooms are sleek. The menu tries to match the décor in its modernity. This is not the place to order classic dishes. Instead, try the parmesan "ice cream" — little balls of creamy cheese served with pears, grapes and a balsamic vinegar sauce. Among the primi, the risotto with roast pigeon, fava beans and blueberries is not only unusual, but really delicious. Some of the main dishes tend to go a bit over the top, with a lot of specialty meats, like roast deer chops served with nettle dumplings. The desserts are just as imaginative. A coconut semifreddo served on a bed of carmalized bananas is a pleasure. But you might pass on the lasagnette of ice with mousse of vegetable carbon and a pollen sauce. Huh? The wine list is more than respectable. And the price, is very reasonable. Five-course tasting menus are available for €30 and €40. €€
Vicolo del Cinque, 58 tel. 06.583 35903
Also recommended by Katie Parla.
Read about Katie on our Meet the Romans pages.
Le Mani in Pasta
A classic, inexpensive osteria, attracting the locals with handmade pasta, grilled meats and fresh fish. Not to be missed: the pasta with ricotta and pancetta heavily scented with fresh nutmeg, the seafood antipasto platter, the carpaccio of fish with shaved truffles, the gorgonzola ice cream in an almond pastry shell. One of the few restaurants in Rome with a separate dining room for smokers. Reservations suggested. €€
Via dei Genovesi, 37 tel. 06.581 6017 Closed Monday
Ristorante Trattoria Perilli
Via Marmorata 39, tel 06 574 2415
A neighborhood trattoria in the old style.
Recommended by Paula Pivato O'Neill, who says, "they make the best pasta alla carbonara!" Read about Paula on our Meet the Romans pages.
Although the church of Santa Cecilia, built on the spot where the saint was allegedly martyred, is a stop on many tourist routes, the piazza is just far enough off the beaten track to maintain an air of traffic-free calm. Roma Sparita, meaning the Rome that disappeared, is the name often given to the Trastevere district, and it certainly seems appropriate at this address, perfect for a relaxing meal on warm days when the outside tables afford a view of the square with its ancient architecture still intact. And the food is good, an excellent value for the price. At night, the pizza oven is fired up, but at lunch, don't miss the delicious cacio e pepe a Roman pasta specialty, served here in a basket made of cheese; or the rigatoni alla Norma, the linguini with fresh shellfish, and in season, the perfectly crisp fried artichokes. For dessert, try the hot apple tart with homemade ice cream. €€
Piazza Santa Cecilia 24 tel. 06.580 0757 Closed Monday
Bir & Fud 2.0
It serves designer pizza, craft beer and creative dishes designed (if I have this right) by the chef of my least-favorite Michelin-starred restaurant.
Open daily noon to 1 a.m. No e-mail reservations, but you can make them onlinebeeww.birandfud.it
via Benedetta, 23 (Trastevere, near Ponte Sisto), tel 06 589 4016,
Recommended by Maureen B. Fant, ccokbook author, food writer, cooking teacher, tour guide. www.mareenbfant.com
A well-priced traditional trattoria, serving traditional dishes in a friendly atmosphere. Good house wines. Reserve before you go.
Viale Trastevere 106 tel 89 20 40.
Recommended by Chen Clarke who says
"They make a pasta filled with brie and pear with a rocket pesto that's truly inspired and transports me to another reality." Read about Chen on our Meet the Romans pages.
In 1943 Elena Fabrizi known as "Sora Lella," sister of the famed Italian actor Aldo Fabrizi, opened a restaurant, where she served traditional Roman cuisine, prepared with great skill and care. Italy was in the midst of the Second World War, and times were hard, but the restaurant quickly became a favorite haunt of Italy's celebrity crowd. In 1959, the restaurant moved to the Isola Tiberina, the tiny island in the Tiber river, between Trastevere and the Ghetto. Now managed by Sora Lella's son, Aldo Trabalza and her grandsons Mauro, Simone, and Renato, who is the current chef, the restaurant remains a pleasant place to enjoy an excellent classic lunch or dinner. The service is always friendly and gracious, the cuisine carefully prepared and beautifully presented. Try traditional dishes like eggplant parmagiana, made here with the addition of ricotta cheese, honey and nuts, the calamari stuffed with eggplant and steamed in white wine, the baccalà (cod) alla Romana, or the potato gnocchi all'amatriciana.
Via Ponte Quattro Capi, 16 tel. 06.686 1601 Closed Sunday
Spirito di Vino
Owner Romeo Catalani will regale you (in English) with the story of his restaurant, built on the site of the oldest synagogue in Rome. "As you go down the steps to our wine cellar," he will tell you, "you are going back 75 years with each step. And when you get to the bottom, you will be in a space even older than the coliseum" — which may seem hard to believe, but as places go in Rome, the Coliseum is really not that old. Then he'll meticulously describe each of the wonderful dishes on the menu, prepared by his wife, Eliana. The menu changes with the season, but try not to miss the clafoutis of artichoke, the very essence of the vegetable. Or the pasta with truffle sauce, or the roast pork cooked for days in red wine and a myriad of spices. The wine list, under the surpervision of the owners' son Francesco, is substantial. €€€
Via dei Genovesi 31a/b tel. 06.5896689 Closed Sunday and at lunch.
The Pizzerie of Trastevere
Trastevere is known for its plethora of restaurants, from the high-end, to the humble osterie on down to the pizzerie at the absolute bottom of the price list. The best of them serve authentic Roman pizza, baked in a forno a legna, with crusts so thin the edges are often burnt.
For the most genuine of working-class Trastevere experiences, pay a visit to Ai Marmi , so popular that the tables are always full and on weekends, there's a crowd waiting to get in. The service is perfunctory but super fast. The pizzas are cheap and good. And the fritti are freshly made and never greasy. Try the fried stuffed zucchini blossoms. The place has been affectionately nicknamed the "l'obitorio " (the morgue), for its unadorned white marble tables, which stretch out onto the sidewalk in summer. € Viale di Trastevere 53 tel. 06.5800919 Closed Tuesdays and at lunch. Open late.
You'll find a young crowd at Dar Poeta, named for the beloved Roman poet Trilussa, whose portrait dominates the rear wall. Many people find the pizza here to be superior, and the selection of toppings is long and tempting. No reservations and there's usually a crowd. Plan to go by the restaurant, leave your name and then pop into one of the bars on Via della Scala for an apertivo. € Vicolo del Bologna 45 tel. 06.5880526 Closed at lunch.
Ivo a Trastevere A favorite neighborhood haunt, and good enough to attract clients from all over the city, Ivo serves pizza, grilled meats and traditional Roman trattoria dishes like spaghetti all'amatriciana (a bacon and tomato sauce) and scamorza. (melted smoked cheese). Noisy and busy with waiters furiously navigating among the wooden tables. € Via San Francesco a Ripa158 tel. 5817082 Closed Tuesdays and at lunch.
Pizzeria San Cosimato A tiny restaurant with most of its tables downstairs in the former cellar, the place is always packed with locals, who come for the excellent, thin-crusted pizza and traditional pasta dishes. € Via di San Cosimato 14/a tel. 06.580 0353
In Rome Now Travel Guide: Restaurants Rome, Italy Trastevere