This guide to restaurants in Rome will make sure every meal is fantastic on your next trip!
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Picture it: we can travel internationally again. You’ve booked flights to Rome and found a fabulous place to stay. You have your tickets to the Vatican and Colosseum. Now the question is, how to find the best restaurants in Rome?
Rome is packed with restaurants claiming to be the real deal, but sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s authentic. So today I’m sharing my favorite restaurants and dishes in Rome!
Local Roman Specialties
Before we get into where to eat, here’s what you should know about local Roman food! Each part of Italy has regional specialties, and Rome has some of my favorites. Make sure to try a few of these:
Carbonara: The classic. Carbonara is an egg and cheese sauce flavored with guanciale, pig cheek. It’s delicious and one of my favorite pastas in the entire world. It’s classic Italian food: simple flavors done right. You can judge a restaurant’s quality by the smoothness of their carbonara. I’ve also shared the recipe when you get home and start craving it!
Amatriciana: Roman-style tomato sauce, but their version adds pork. It’s delicious and the pork adds a different dimension to a classic sauce.
Cacio e pepe: Cacio e pepe is the Italian version of macaroni and cheese. Made with pecorino, a sheep cheese, it’s hearty comfort food.
Gricia: Pasta alla gricia is in the same vein as carbonara and cacio e pepe: a rich cheesy sauce with guanciale. Think carbonara without the eggs or cacio e pepe with added bacon.
Supplì: Supplì are the Roman version of arancini. They’re delicious little fried rice balls, held together with cheese and breaded. Sometimes they have a center of meat, but they’re delicious either way! They’re a great snack or appetizer.
Saltimbocca: Saltimbocca is a classic Italian dish with its roots in Rome. Most traditionally it’s veal, prosciutto and sage with a white wine and butter sauce. The American version occasionally subs in pork or chicken, but you won’t see much of that in Rome!
Any restaurant in Rome worth its’ salt will have some or all of these on their menu!
Your Guide to Restaurants in Rome
Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Rome! I’ve grouped them loosely by neighborhood, so you know what’s good no matter where you find yourself.
One thing you should know right off the bat: this post has a definite lack of restaurant suggestions for Trastevere on this list. There’s an entirely separate collection entirely dedicated to Trastevere: that’s how much I love it! You could eat every meal there happily, so definitely merits a visit.
Osteria da Mario
Osteria da Mario is a great little spot less than 10 minutes’ walk from both the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, making it a great option for lunch to break up seeing the sights!
Definitely ask what the specials are – we had a swordfish pasta that was to die for! We also had a fantastic rabbit dish that’s on their regular menu.
If you go during lunch, seating is alongside stalls for the nearby frutteria, meaning you’ll get to watch the local nonnas shop for their dinner’s produce.
Trattoria Der Pallaro
I’ve already shared my deep love for Trattoria Der Pallaro before, ever since my first visit to Rome in 2016. It’s a pre-fixe menu, essentially whatever protein the chef wants that night. It’s delicious and great price for a three course meal. As of September 2020 their website says they take reservations by phone! If you want to skip reservations, get there as soon as they open for a lovely meal on their patio.
I include Quadro because sometimes we need a solid spot to sit and caffeinate. It’s conveniently located two blocks away from the Pantheon, so perfect for a midmorning caffeine hit. Good espresso should cost only about 1€-1.50€, but sometimes in heavy traffic areas it can get much higher much faster. But Quadra has a pretty extensive pastry and panini counter, as well as good coffee. Solid option when you need a break.
Gelateria della Palma
One of the most famous gelaterie in Rome because of the sheer number of flavors! Gelateria della Palma boasts over 150 flavors and you’re going to want to try them all. Purists may object to the less traditional flavors, but everything we tried was delicious! Plus, if you’re eating gelato every day on vacation – which you absolutely should be – try some classic flavors and some modern twists!
Sora Margherita is the kind of classic Italian restaurant that’s sometimes hard to find as a visitor spending only a few days in the city. Located in the Jewish Quarter, it’s enough off the beaten path to find the spot packed with locals. The menu is handwritten, changes daily, and the staff doesn’t speak much English. But if you ask for recommendations (che cose mi consiglia?), they’ll steer you right every time.
My main advice? Come hungry! Portions are huge here. We tried the lamb along with cacio e pepe and ravioli. Everything was delicious!
Need a spot to kill some time before your Sora Margherita reservation? Head here! Bar Toto’ is one of those spots packed with Romans enjoying an apertivo after work. But if you snag a table, you can sit outside a bar that’s been serving locals for decades!
DivinOstilia is a classic enoteca or wine bar. They have a list of options by the glass on a board, but the trick is to ask for a recommendation from the staff. On our most recent visit I had a fantastic white from Ischia that was the perfect refresher on a hot day! They serve food, but I’ve always treated this as a spot to sit, get away from the heat and the crowds when we’re near the Colosseum.
Augustarello a Testaccio
Augustarello is another spot that reflects the real Italy. The restaurant is enough off the main track that it’s frequented by almost entirely locals, and the prices are very reasonable.
We had panzanella – a bread salad with whatever produce is most in season, it’s ALWAYS an excellent choice on the menu. The surprise favorite was a rigatoni with oxtail stew – hearty but not overwhelming, the kind of dish that you can tell slow-cooked for hours.
If you’re looking for an excuse, this spot is less than 10 minutes’ walk from the Aventine Keyhole, so do both around lunch as a break from the crowds!