Rome is a city to enjoy with all five senses, and perhaps taste is, after sight, the one you will enjoy the most during your trip to the Eternal City. After standing in awe at the wonders from old that are Rome's landmarks today, it is time to continue enjoying, tasting each and every one of the flavors of Roman cuisine.
Here's my personal selection of restaurants for each area of Rome by recommendation of locals, which will serve as a reference when planning your meal of the day no matter which visits you have in mind. Trigger warning if you're hungry!
Here are 10 different ways to devour Rome.
1. Ristorante Fiammetta, a classy but unpretentious place in the Historic Center
The Ristorante Fiammetta is a hidden gem in a street of antique stores, Via dei Coronari, and that must be why this restaurant maintains all the flavor and elegance of old times, without the artifice and frills of modern restaurants. Here, everything is real food, good service, reasonable prices, and the possibility of eating both in the restaurant room and al fresco on the pleasant outdoor terrace.
Here you will find typical Roman dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and even a variety of fish, all with an unusual freshness for a restaurant in the center of Rome. Everything is delicious, so don't be afraid to order whatever you feel like and enjoy a great meal and a break after a morning of sightseeing.
Location: Piazza Fiammetta, 10
Hours: From 12:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday and Tuesday closed
Price: Between € 20 and € 25 per person
2. La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali, a small family restaurant next to the Colosseum
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali is a family restaurant serving traditional Roman food. Over time it has become a somewhat touristy place that is often recommended in guidebooks, but it still maintains its quality and that is why I mention it. They have a burrata ravioli that I hope they keep on their menu, because the next time I go to Rome I plan on ordering it again. Their desserts are also a delight.
For lunch, and especially for dinner, it is almost essential that you book in advance, due to the proximity of the restaurant to the Colosseum. Reservations can only be made by telephone.
Location: Via della Madonna Dei Monti, 9
Hours: From 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., closed on Tuesdays.
Price: Approximately € 20 per person
3. Pizzeria Ai Marmi, an authentic pizzeria in Trastevere
This pizzeria, rather than a restaurant, looks more like a kitchen. In Pizzeria Ai Marmi all the tables are together, which means that you will share a table with strangers, and they will literally make the pizza in front of your eyes. And what a pizza. Everything this restaurant doesn't spend on trying to attract customers, they invest in the care they put into the dough and ingredients for a spectacular product.
If like me, you could dine on pizza every night of your life, I sincerely believe you must try this place, and almost any Roman who knows it will tell you the same, since as you can see it is frequented by many locals.
Location: Viale di Trastevere, 53-59
Hours: 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., closed Wednesday
Price: Approximately € 15 per person
4. Il Sorpasso, an escape from the tourist traps near the Vatican
This restaurant is a real delight and a good recommendation for lunch or early dinner after a visit to St. Peter's Basilica. In Il Sorpasso they serve Roman cuisine with a touch of creativity and careful presentation, and the menu has a very good value for money.
They have quality charcuterie (you'll see cured hams hanging in the kitchen), savory cheeses, and a wide selection of wines, and for main courses, any plate of pasta or meat will leave you more than satisfied.
Location: Via Properzio, 31/33
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price: Between € 20 and 25 per person
5. Ai Fienaroli, a short walk from the Borghese Gallery
I get the impression that this restaurant is not very well known yet, and is certainly off the typical tourist itineraries recommended by most guidebooks, but I wouldn't be surprised if this changed overnight as the food served at Ai Fienaroli is exquisite.
It is quite a humble place but with very good service where you can order delicacies such as red tuna tartar with crusty bread and fennel cream, sea bass carpaccio with pistachios, and black truffle, and my personal recommendation, the artichokes with beans.
Location: Via Piemonte, 125
Hours: From 12:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day of the week.
Price: Between € 35 and 40 per person
6. Osteria Fernanda, next to the pyramid of Caio Cestio
Osteria Fernanda is a restaurant that proposes a very innovative cuisine with unconventional ingredients. Both locals and well-informed tourists flock to chef Davide del Duca's kitchen because what you are going to find on the menu of this place is literally out of the ordinary.
Rigatoni served with snails, buffalo milk foam and root vegetable sauce, cheese ice cream risotto with herbs and miso, and three choices of meat, venison, lamb or pigeon, as well as fish; these are some examples of what you will find on the menu of this restaurant recommended in the Michelin Guide.
Location: Via Crescenzo del Monte, 18
Hours: 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day of the week
Price: Between € 80 and 100 per person
7. Giulia, a gourmet experience next to Palazzo Farnese
In Giulia you can dine overlooking the Via Giulia through its large windows in an elegant place that combines vintage furniture and industrial decor. The tasting menu will surprise you with very particular flavors, of which I especially enjoyed the tangerine and burnt onion risotto and the carrot fritter with homemade tomato sauce.
However, if you come hungry, I recommend ordering dishes: they have a variety of spectacular pasta such as cheese, egg and snail ravioli, and meats accompanied by very creative side dishes.
Location: Lungotevere dei Tebaldi, 4/4a
Hours: 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Tuesday closed
Price: Between € 50 and € 80 per person
8. Mercerie, upscale street food next to Torre Argentina
Mercerie is a restaurant, cocktail bar and fast food place all in one. What makes this place unique is that its menu reinterprets the classic dishes of Italian cuisine and transforms them into small pastry baskets full of flavor, being able to choose between lasagnas, stuffed cannoli, and desserts that you can order to take away.
You also have the option to get a table and taste the rest of the menu, since the restaurant serves more traditional dishes, such as pasta, tartar, and meat. After dinner, I recommend you try their incredible cocktails. If you are traveling to Rome with a group of friends, you will love this place, especially after a tour of the Jewish Quarter.
Location: Via di S. Nicola de' Cesarini, 5
Hours: From 12:00 p.m. to 00:00 a.m.
Price: Between € 15 and € 50 per person
9. SantoPalato, a return to the origins near Piazza dei Re di Roma
SantoPalato is a somewhat retro trattoria that has become one of the favorite places of the locals for its return to the traditional flavor. In this restaurant, they cook with offal, and tripe, sweetbreads, and pork tongue are the star dishes on the menu along with classics such as pasta amatriciana and pasta alla genovese, but don't worry as they also serve more appetizing meats such as oxtail or meatballs.
Although this place doesn't suit every taste, if you are planning to go I recommend you book in advance as it is quite fashionable.
Location: Piazza Tarquinia, 4
Hours: From 12:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Monday closed
Price: Between € 30 and € 40 per person
10. Altrove, Mediterranean cuisine a few steps from Circo Massimo
Altrove is a restaurant that makes multiculturalism its forte with a menu of international cuisine dishes. It is open all day and is both a cafeteria, pastry shop, and restaurant, where you can order dishes such as tempura vegetables, ceviche, couscous, and kofta.
It's last on the list because you won't find traditional Italian cuisine here and, personally, when I travel to a place I like to try the most authentic local flavors, but it can be a good alternative if you've had enough pasta and pizza during your trip.
Location: Via Girolamo Benzoni, 34
Hours: From 12:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Price: Between € 20 and € 40 per person