When in Rome – so the saying goes – you should do as the Romans do. And when it comes to eating, that means traditional Roman dishes.
Some of the things you should look for on restaurant menus include cacio e pepe, which is a sauce of cacio cheese and pepper that’s served over pasta, and pizza bianca, which is somewhere between pizza and focaccia. You may also find baccalà on offer, which is salt cod – salt was historically important to Rome, so this is also a very traditional dish.
Pasta is popular in Rome, and in fact carbonara (egg yolks, pancetta, pecorino cheese, and black pepper) originated in Rome. Other sauces which are very Roman are all’amatriciana (a tomato sauce with pork, pecorino cheese and black pepper) and all’arrabbiata (a tomato sauce with lots of chili peppers for a good heated kick).
Because of the impact of the Jewish community in Rome, centered in what is now the Jewish Ghetto, some things we think of as typically Roman dishes are actually Jewish-Roman dishes. For instance, in restaurants throughout the Ghetto you’ll find artichokes on the Spring menus. These are deep-fried, and are a real local treat.
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Here are a few places to eat in Rome – I haven’t eaten at all of these personally, so I’m relying on the recommendations of others for some.
Places to Eat in Rome
On a Budget
- Sora Margherita (Piazza delle Cinque Scole 30, in Jewish Ghetto) – simple trattoria serves Roman & Jewish dishes
- Al Pompiere (Via Santa Maria dei Calderari 38, in Jewish Ghetto, closed Sundays & in August) – overlooks Piazza delle Cinque Scole, informal, serves Roman and Jewish dishes
- Antico Forno (Piazza Campo dei Fiori 22) – many say this is the pizza bianca in Rome
- La Carbonara (Via Panisperna 214, closed Sundays) – serves Roman and Jewish dishes, including namesake signature
- Spaghetteria L’Archetto (Via dell’Archetto, near Trevi Fountain) – as the name suggests, spaghetti is only pasta, but there are 00+ sauces to choose from
- Maccheroni (Piazza delle Coppelle 44, near Pantheon, open every day) – basic trattoria with good food on a budget
- Hostaria da Nerone (Via delle Terme di Tito 96, near Colosseum, closed Sundays) – serves lots of Roman pastas
- Pierluigi (Piazza de Ricci 144, near Piazza Campo dei Fiori, closed Mondays) – popular restaurant with an extensive menu
- Pizzeria Leonina (Via Leonina 84, in Monti neighborhood near Via Cavour) – sells pizza by the slice, paid for by weight
- La Sagrestia (Via del Seminario 89, near the Pantheon) – Roman-style pizza and other Roman and Italian dishes
- Pizza Re (two Rome locations, Largo dei Chiavari 83/84 and Via di Ripetta 14 near Piazza del Popolo) – Naples style pizza with thin crust
- Pizzeria da Baffetto (Via del Governo Vecchio 114, near Piazza Navona & Pantheon) – the house specialty is “pizza baffetto” and is basically “with everything,” including eggs
- Armando al Pantheon (Salita dei Crescenzi 31, near Pantheon, closed Saturday evenings & all day Sundays) – basic trattoria serves simple dishes, moderate prices
- Cul de Sac (Piazza Pasquino 73, near Piazza Navona) – wine bar with small plates of food
- Cavour 313 (Via Cavour 313, closed in August, no lunch on weekends, no Sunday dinners mid-June through September) – wine bar also serving lunch & dinner
- Trattoria da Lucia (Vicolo del Mattonato 2B, in Trastevere) – old trattoria serves basic and traditional Roman dishes
- Osteria Ponte Sisto (Via Ponte Sisto 80, near Piazza Trilussa in Trastevere) – basic osteria serves Roman dishes
- Trattoria Carlo Menta (Via della Lungaretta 101, in Trastevere) – cheap & big pizzas, big menu of other choices
- Ristorante Alla Rampa (Piazza Mignanelli 18, near Spanish Steps) – moderately-priced place with good quality food
- Ristorante da Giovanni (Via Antonio Salandra 1 off Via XX Settembre, near Termini Station) – cozy place with indifferent staff but decent food
- Pastarito – chain restaurant with several locations throughout Italy (including 9 in Rome), just above Olive Garden on the food chain, but good enough in a pinch
Budget Be Damned
- Matricianella (Via del Leone 4, near Spanish Steps, closed Sundays) – serves traditional Roman dishes & fried foods for moderate-to-expensive prices
- Trattoria (Via del Pozzo delle Cornacchie 25, near Pantheon) – serves traditional Sicilian dishes, has become a more trendy (and expensive) spot since it first opened
- La Locanda del Pellegrino (Via del Pellegrino 107, near Campo dei Fiori) – serves lots of seafood dishes
- Ristorante Dal Toscano al Girarrosto (Via Germanico 58/60, near Vatican Museum, closed Mondays) – serves traditional Tuscan dishes, including la bistecca
- Enoteca Ferrara (Via del Moro 1/A on Piazza Trilussa, in Trastevere) – wine bar & restaurant serving lunch & dinner at moderate prices, also featuring a wine & food shop
- ‘Gusto (Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9, near Spanish Steps) – has both an informal pizzeria (downstairs) and a more formal restaurant (upstairs) with Italian-Asian fusion; downstairs is for those on a budget, upstairs is for those without money worries
Photo by: kevin.holmes