These selected restaurants have been divided into five categories: Gastronomic, Business, Trendy, Budget and Personal Recommendations. The restaurants are listed alphabetically within these different categories, which serve as guidelines rather than absolute definitions of the establishments.
IVA (value-added tax) at 10% is included in restaurant prices but is usually added to the prices before they are quoted. A 15% service charge is usually added to the bill. Romans are not very generous with tips but an additional 10% on top of the bill if the meal and service have been good is very much appreciated.
The prices quoted below are for an average three-course meal for one person and for a bottle of house wine or equivalent; they include IVA but do not include service charge or tip.
Checchino dal 1887: The birthplace of Roman cooking, in the heart of Testaccio, Checchino has remained in the Mariani family for five generations. Classics, such as coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) and abbacchio alla cacciatora (braised suckling lamb), were invented here. Still on the menu today, they have been adapted to create lighter dishes for the modern palate. Reservations are recommended – it is packed throughout the week, normally with locals. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Via Monte Testaccio 30
Tel: (06) 574 6318. Fax: (06) 574 3816.
Price: €50. Wine: €15.
La Pergola: Sublime food and breathtaking views put this roof garden restaurant among Italy’s ‘Top 20’. The chef, Heinz Beck, shapes the menu according to seasonal produce and personal inspiration – recent successes include ravioli di scorfano al nero di seppia (sea scorpio ravioli with squid ink) and risotto con erbe fini e mazzancolle (risotto with fine herbs and shellfish). The cellar stocks some of the best – and most expensive – wines in the world. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Cavalieri Hilton Hotel, Via Cadlolo 101
Tel: (06) 3509 2055. Fax: (06) 3509 2165.
Price: €100. Wine: €30.
La Rosetta: Regarded as Rome’s top fish restaurant, La Rosetta lies in a quiet side street close to the Pantheon. Upon entering the wood-panelled room, with its wooden furniture and red upholstery, customers receive a complimentary glass of champagne. One might begin with antipasto misto (a selection of cold seafood delicacies), followed by strozzapreti con calamaretti (pasta with baby squid), to be rounded off with scorfano e verdure grigliate (grilled sea scorpion and spinach). The wines are truly classy but shockingly expensive. Closed Sunday.
Via della Rosetta 8
Tel: (06) 686 1002. Fax: (06) 6821 5116.
Price: €80. Wine: €35.
Le Sans Souci: The faded glamour of the Dolce Vita lives on at Le Sans Souci, just off Via Veneto. It is all rather extravagant – international jet-setters dining below elaborate coffered ceilings, surrounded by impeccably dressed waiters and a sotto fondo of romantic guitar music. The chef concocts a blend of Italian and French cuisine – starters include delectable soufflés and truffled terrine of foie gras, with delights such as duck in millefeuille pastry or lobster fricassee to follow. No lunch. Closed Monday.
Via Sicilia 20
Tel: (06) 4201 4510. Fax: (06) 482 1771.
Price: €70. Wine: €25.
Sabatini: Open-air dining is a sheer joy at Sabatini, with tables overlooking a delightful piazza backed by the floodlit golden mosaics of the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. During winter, the wood-beamed, terracotta-floored dining room comes into use. Roman dishes and seafood top the menu – examples include linguine ai frutti di mare (pasta with mussels, clams and prawns), followed by delicious grilled scampi.
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere 18
Tel: (06) 581 2026. Fax: (06) 589 8386.
Price: €50. Wine: €12.
Dal Bolognese: Popular with politicians, artists and businesspeople, this restaurant has a smart summer terrace overlooking Piazza del Popolo, and a classic winter dining room decorated with contemporary paintings. The menu features dishes from Bologna, notably homemade pasta in creamy sauces – excellent tortelloni con ricotta e spinaci (pasta filled with spinach and ricotta) – and bollito misto (mixed boiled meats). For dessert, they do a divine sorbet, served in scooped-out fruit. Closed Monday. No lunch Tuesday.
Piazza del Popolo 1
Tel: (06) 361 1426. Fax: (06) 322 2799.
Price: €45. Wine: €16.
Dal Toscano: The Bruni family have run this friendly trattoria for three generations. Close to the Vatican, Dal Toscano is known for traditional cooking and speedy service. The interior is simple – vaulted ceilings and plain wooden furniture – and in summer there is a leafy terrace. Both Tuscan and Roman specialities, such as funghi porcini arrosto (roast porcini mushrooms) and abbacchio scottadito (grilled suckling lamb), are on offer. The Chianti, a robust red, is first-rate. Closed Monday.
Via Germanico 58-60
Tel: (06) 3972 5717. Fax: (06) 3973 0748.
Price: €26. Wine: €9.
Enoteca Capranica: Housed within a 15th-century renaissance palazzo, close to the Parliament, this elegant restaurant retains old-fashioned charm, with wood-panelled walls and chintzy covered chairs. Ideal for business lunches, there is a small room reserved for private meetings. The menu features refined Mediterranean dishes, such as crema di astice e finocchi con pepperoncino (lobster and fennel cream soup with hot red pepper), and pescespada con olive nere, capperi e pomodorini (swordfish with black olives, capers and cherry tomatoes). Closed Sunday. No lunch Saturday.
Piazza Capranica 99
Tel: (06) 6994 0992. Fax: (06) 6994 0989.
Price: €48. Wine: €12.
La Tana de Noantri: This is a very popular venue which, despite being situated in the heart of the most touristy part of Trastevere (behind Piazza Santa Maria), has kept up a very high standard of solid Roman cuisine since it opened in 1965. All the dishes use only the very freshest of ingredients, especially the many fish main courses. Another of their specialties are ‘Tagliolini alla Tana’, thin egg tagliatelle made with tomatoes, mushrooms and fresh oregano. Outdoor seating is available in summer. Closed Tuesday.
Via della Paglia 1-3
Tel: (06) 580 6404.
Price: €25. Wine: €6.
Taverna degli Amici: Very much frequented by politicians and celebrities from the Roman or Italian arts scene, this restaurant nevertheless boasts unpretentious and discreet staff, a tasteful rustic interior and a romantic candlelit exterior in one of the most atmospheric piazzas in Rome. The menu changes daily but the staples are fish. Desserts are homemade and creative (cinnamon mousse and an exquisite crème caramel are just two examples). An added bonus is that this is one of the few spots in Rome where, for some reason, diners will not be pestered to buy roses or have their picture taken. Closed Monday.
Piazza Margana 37
Tel: (06) 6992 0637. Fax: (06) 6929 0826.Price: €36. Wine: €15.
Cul de Sac: Situated close to Piazza Navona, there is something indefinably French about Cul de Sac. The shelves around the walls are stacked high with wine bottles and the staff work from behind a large marble counter. On summer evenings, several candlelit tables are placed outdoors. It is not exactly a restaurant but more an informal retreat where diners can enjoy good wine accompanied by plates of homemade pâté, regional salamis, first-rate cheeses and salads, without running up an exorbitant bill. The few real dishes of food there are, however, are excellent.
Piazza Pasquino 73
Tel: (06) 6880 1094.
Price: €18. Wine: €6.
Friends Art Café: Cheesy name aside, this café is a good bet both for a light lunch or snack at any point during the day and is a hip spot for an evening apéritif. Located in the colourful Trastevere meeting spot of Piazza Trilussa, it is an oasis of energy and good humour and offers an imaginative array of salads, sandwiches, pasta dishes and drinks of all kinds, both alcoholic and not. Inside, there are colourful plexiglass chairs, chrome details and a widescreen TV, outside there is some seating that is excellent for people-watching (and a bit of traffic too!). No lunch Sunday.
Piazza Trilussa 34
Tel: (06) 581 6111.
Price: €28. Wine: €10.
Friends Music Café, Via Piave 69-73 (Piazza Fiume)
Tel: (06) 4201 4285.
Gusto: This split-level, open-plan restaurant, pizzeria and wine bar is something of a designer showpiece – exposed brickwork, wooden floors, marble-top tables and industrial-style lighting. The emphasis is on Mediterranean cuisine, primarily meat and fish prepared with aromatic herbs and spices. One classic example is the Pizza Mediterranea, topped with ricotta, sliced aubergine and fresh basil leaves. Weekend brunch sees a ‘multi-ethnic’ menu based on eggs, quiches, muffins and salads, while the ‘fitness brunch’ combines salad, yoghurt, cereal and freshly squeezed orange juice. Live jazz takes place in the wine bar and there is also an extremely well-stocked shop, selling kitchenware and cookery books.
Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9
Tel: (06) 322 6273. Fax: (06) 3262 9182.
Price: €31. Wine: €15.
Ketumbar: Ketumbar (Malay for ‘coriander’) is one of several relatively new chic nightspots to hit Testaccio. Fusion cuisine fits the bill, with dishes such as sushi and nasi goreng (rice, egg and greens prepared in a wok). The sleek, minimalist interior – featured in various style magazines – is tastefully decorated with Indonesian furniture, while in one room potsherds (pieces of broken Roman amphora that make up Monte Testaccio hill) are subtly lit behind a glass wall. No lunch. Closed Sunday.
Via Galvani 24
Tel: (06) 5730 5338.
Price: €28. Wine: €10.
Margutta Vegetariano alle Cornacchie: The dining room of this hip vegetarian restaurant hosts temporary art exhibitions, including work by students from the Accademia dei Belli Arti. Out front, in a small square between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, there is a summer terrace. Dishes include lasagne (Sicilian style, with aubergine, olives and capers), quiche (tomato, avocado and brie), plus the colourful Cornacchie Salad combing endive, rocket, sweetcorn, avocado, radicchio, cherry tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. They also do pizzas and an all-you-can-eat brunch on Sunday morning.
Piazza Rondanini 53
Tel: (06) 6813 4544. Fax: (06) 6813 1911.
Website: www.marguttavegetariano.comPrice: €22. Wine: €10.
Da Agusto: Possibly the last genuine Trastevere osteria, a meal at Agusto’s is an experience in itself. On busy winter evenings, the dining room is packed and steamy, while in summer, rickety wooden tables spill out onto a pretty cobbled piazza. The menu is limited and runs out early favourites include pollo arrosto con patate (roast chicken and potatoes), and abbacchio al forno (lamb done in the oven); desserts are homemade. Tables are covered with throw-away paper cloths where waitresses scribble down orders and tot up bills. No dinner Saturday and Sunday. No credit cards.
Piazza de’ Renzi 15
Tel: (06) 580 3798.
Price: €18. Wine: €5.
Da Baffetto: One of Rome’s best-known pizzerie, Da Baffetto is a tiny, rough-and-tumble place, located in a lovely cobbled street close to Piazza Navona. The thin, wood-oven pizzas and excellent bruschette (toast topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic and olive oil) are popular with locals and tourists alike. There is a rapid turnover – the waiters certainly let customers know when it is time to leave. To avoid the crowds, it is best to arrive either very early (before 2000) or very late (after 2400). No lunch. No credit cards.
Via del Governo Vecchio 114
Tel: (06) 686 1617.
Price: €12. Wine: €5.
Formula 1: As the heart of the student quarter, San Lorenzo is traditionally famous for its cheap and cheerful pizzerie and a growing number of more sophisticated and hip wine bars and eateries. The exceedingly relaxed and slightly chaotic Formula 1 is one of those basic no-frills pizza places that serve up some of the best in Rome, using real mozzarella (and not the factory kind so favoured nowadays). The fried baccalà (salted cod) is excellent. No lunch. Closed Sunday. No credit cards.
Via degli Equi 13
Tel: (06) 445 3866.
Price: €10. Wine: €4.
Insalata Ricca: Surprisingly few Roman eateries offer creative salads. The founders of Insalata Ricca saw a gap in the market and now run a chain of eight restaurants around town. Popular with diet-conscious Romans and foreigners alike, dishes range from insalata con gamberetti (prawns, mushrooms, rocket and radicchio) to insalata di funghi (parmesan, fresh mushrooms and rocket) and insalata contadina (feta cheese, olives, almonds, tomatoes and lettuce).
Largo dei Chiavari 85
Tel: (06) 6880 3656.
Price: €15. Wine: €6.
Perilli: A no-frills, down-to-earth trattoria, with menu and waiters to match. Cheerful and slightly chaotic, Perilli has served up generous portions of Roman specialities, such as rigatoni con la pajata (pasta with veal’s intestines), since 1911. Those who feel queasy about offal can choose the classics – caprese (tomato and mozzarella salad) or saltimbocca alla Romana (slices of veal rolled in prosciutto). Closed Wednesday and August.
Via Marmorata 39
Tel: (06) 574 2415.
Price: €22. Wine: €8.
Africa: Ethiopia and Eritrea are former Italian colonies, hence the recent influx of immigrants from these countries. Africa, close to Termini station, specialises in Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine, such as a delicious spicy stew known as zighini and highly seasoned cooked vegetables. These are presented on a single large plate, upon a bed of ingera (a spongy pancake-like bread). Traditionally, everyone around the table eats from the same plate, using the ingera to scoop up the meat and vegetables with their hands. Closed Monday.
Via Gaeta 26
Tel: (06) 494 1077.
Price: €16. Wine: €6.
Ditirambo: Just off the ever-popular and ever-bustling Campo de’ Fiori, this intimate restaurant is a gem of imaginative cuisine (many dishes are vegetarian but not boring) and good humour in a decidedly touristy area. The interior is warm and inviting, the bread and pasta are homemade, as are the sweets (the fruit and nut sorbets prepared in their skins or shells are divine). No lunch Monday.
Piazza della Cancelleria 74-75
Tel/fax: (06) 687 1626.
Price: €25. Wine: €11.
La Taverna del Ghetto: Rome’s Ghetto was created in 1554 when the Pope had a wall built to segregate the Jews from the rest of the Roman population. The community developed their own variation on Roman cooking, which can be sampled at this small, informal kosher restaurant. Charcoal-grilled meat and fish predominate, but also delicious are pasta dishes, such as tagliatelle cernia e fiori di zucca (pasta with grouper and courgette flowers) and the classic carciofi alla giudia (artichoke) side-dish. There is an interesting selection of kosher wines. No dinner Friday. No lunch Saturday.
Via Portico d’Ottavia 8
Tel: (06) 6880 9771. Fax: (06) 6821 2309.
Price: €26. Wine: €10.50.
Pierluigi: Lying between Campo de’ Fiori and the river, this cheerful ivy-clad restaurant extends onto a romantic piazza through summer. It is best known for reasonably priced fish dishes, such as risotto ai frutti di mare (seafood risotto) and calamari e gamberi fritti (fried squid and shrimp), but they also do excellent Roman fare, such as pasta con fagioli (pasta with beans) and fiori di zucca (fried courgette flowers). Extremely popular, so reservations are recommended. Closed Monday.
Piazza de’ Ricci 144
Price: €25. Wine: €8.
Testaccio Kitchen Bar: This is another stylish Testaccio venture that is actually spread over three floors (one disco-bar, one restaurant, one wine bar and terrace). The restaurant’s chic interior of exposed steel beams, simple wooden furniture and white linen tablecloths is a breath of fresh air. The kitchen turns out sophisticated Mediterranean dishes, such as insalata di polipo con crema alle olive (octopus salad with creamed olives) and filetto di spigola all’amalfitana (sea bass fillet Amalfi style). The pasta and desserts are prepared in house and there is a selection of farm-produced Italian cheeses. No lunch. Closed Monday.
Via Galvani 20
Tel: (06) 574 8216.
Price: €28. Wine: €8.