With a city nicknamed Caput Mundi—Capital of the World—it’s only natural that Romans are accustomed to seeing their home as unrivaled in matters of history, culture, and food. And while it’s true that traditional local cuisine holds a sacred place at the table, the Rome is hardly impervious to change. The city’s classics, from carbonara to cacio e pepe, are still universally beloved, but Rome’s dining and drinking culture, like that of all cities, is in a constant state of evolution (albeit at a glacial pace compared to New York, Paris or London). Recently, tightening purse strings, transitioning food systems, and changing palates have conspired to create exciting new ways of dining, drinking, and shopping for food.
The innovative features of Rome’s flourishing food and drinks scene are at their best when they use tradition as a foundation: neo-trattorias like Santo Palato serve honest classics with a few clever twists, while the booming independent enoteca scene, embodied by wine bars like Il Sorì, La Mescita, Litro, and Mostò embrace natural and traditional wines. Craft beer pubs like Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fa’ and Artisan, run by enthusiastic experts, promote small producers over conventional choices. Meanwhile, a revived interest in food provenance has given rise to a growing number of farmers’ markets, which contrary to popular belief are relative newcomers to the city’s gastronomic landscape. If you’re looking for fresh, seasonal produce directly from farms, visit the stalls in the south side of the Mercato Trionfale near the fish mongers. There, and elsewhere in town, the light and dark green banners hanging in stalls announcing “ALBO PRODUTTORI AGRICOLI IN VENDITA DIRETTA” signal that you’re at a stall run by a farm (the others sell produce sourced from a wholesale market).
Visitors to the Italian capital will be endlessly satisfied, whether they are after traditional foods or fresh flavors–but only if they know exactly where to look! So, where should you eat, drink, and shop for food in Rome? SO MANY AWESOME PLACES. I have so many resources dispersed over so many platforms (take a spin on my clips page to find guides and articles for NYT, Bon App, Eater, Punch, and more), but here’s a more succinct guide to my personally and independently* vetted recommendations for dining, drinking, and shopping for food and booze in Rome.
If you are after traditional cucina romana at moderate prices, Armando al Pantheon and Cesare al Casaletto are your best bets. I also love Tram Tram in San Lorenzo (they also serve dishes from Puglia) and for cheap, abundant comfort food, I visit Osteria Bonelli in Torpignattara. And for super honest, affordable, delicious Roman/Umbrian/Sardinian specialties, plus pizza, served with a smile, Tavernaccia Da Bruno is it.
Roscioli and Santo Palato may not serve explicitly traditional classics, instead blending modern techniques with local flavors, but both are excellent. I have a handy guide for getting the most out of your visit to Roscioli, a must-read before this must-visit.
For thick-rimmed pizza, check out Tonda, Sforno, Sbanco, and La Gatta Mangiona, while Da Remo and Pizzeria Ostiense serve excellent thin crust Roman pies. 180g Pizzeria Romana does thin-crust Roman style with a gourmet flare. Don’t miss pizza by the slice at Pizzarium and Panificio Bonci (or Bonci’s bakery in the Mercato Centrale in the train station). I also like Prelibato in Monteverde for a slice. The pizza bianca at Antico Forno Roscioli and pizza rossa at Forno Campo de’ Fiori are delicious, as are the various flavored slices at the latter (Forno Roscioli’s pizzas are heavy IMO). For tasty little pizzette, visit Da Artenio in the Mercato di Testaccio. While you’re at the market, pop over to Casa Manco for slices. For a round-up of these and other favorite places for pizza in Rome, take a peek at this article I wrote for the sadly defunct Lucky Peach Magazine.
You may wish to give fine dining a pass. So much of it is so disappointing, derivative, and precious. But if you must, I highly recommend Metamorfosi in Parioli, which is the only Michelin-starred spot in Rome that I really have fun at. Il Sanlorenzo, an upscale fish restaurant in central Rome, may not have a star, but you’ll find formal service, an elegant atmosphere, and the finest fish dishes in town. (Not everyone reports the same service experience–see comments below). For more fresh fish at prices that reflect their high quality (fresh fish in Italy is very expensive), I love raw dishes, fried starters, and seafood pasta at Tempio di Iside.
For kosher meals, try C’e’ Pasta…e Pasta, which serves Roman Jewish classics cafeteria-style. In the Ghetto, Boccione Forno del Ghetto does amazing fruitcake called pizza ebraica, as well as spectacular almond paste and ricotta cakes. Nearby, Nonna Betta serves kosher-style food in a restaurant setting. Stick to the the pezzetti fritti, concia (fried and marinated zucchini) carciofi alla giudia (in season in the winter), and spaghetti con bottarga e cicoria.
Go to Testaccio or San Giovanni for brisket or artichoke or kidney sandwiches at Mordi e Vai. The trapizzini at the growing number of Trapizzino shops are a must (especially the chicken cacciatore)! I’m a fan of the Trastevere location in Piazza Trilussa, which is currently the only branch with table service and a full-on wine list. The suppli’, potato croquettes, and fried pastry cream at Supplizio are super tasty.
Gelato & Pastries
During holiday season, don’t miss the chance to fill your luggage with panettoni from Panificio Bonci and Santi Sebastiano e Valentino.
There’s coffee everywhere, but some places truly are a cut above. My favorite historic shop is Sciascia, established in 1919. Two new-ish place celebrating Italian-style coffees with third wave techniques are Roscioli Caffè and Pergamino, Faro, and Marjani Coffee.
Wine & Beer
Thristy? My favorite wine bars are the aforementioned Il Sorì, La Mescita, and Mostò, as well as my local Litro, recently refurbished Bulzoni, and long-established Il Goccetto. I often stop in at La Barrique, Remigio, and Barnaba for a glass.
For beer, I love Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, Open Baladin, Birra +, Stavio, Brasserie 4:20, and Be.Re., Artisan, and Luppolo Station. I also drop in at the Jungle Juice Brewing in Mandrione whenever I can; their bar is open evenings from Tuesday to Sunday.
Salumi & Formaggi & Product
If you love cheeses and cured meats, visit DOL, Roscioli, Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi (skip the cured meats there and stick to the cheeses), or one of the wine bars mentioned above. I buy cheeses and meats to take home from La Tradizione and Roscioli (they’ll vacuum seal things for air travel, too.
There are well over 100 municipal markets in Rome, so no matter where you’re staying, you’re likely within walking distance of one. My favorites are Mercato Trionfale just north of the Vatican Museums main entrance. It is perfect and, although I live between two markets in Monteverde, I regularly make the downhill trip to Trionfale because it has plenty of famers’ stalls, great butchers, wonderful fishmongers, and some ace alimentari selling cheeses and cured meats. The Testaccio Market is great, as well, and offers plenty of in-market dining.
International Cuisine & Regional Italian
Need a break from Roman fare? Check out Mesob in Pigneto for Ethiopian, Doozo in Monti for seasonal Japanese dishes, Janta Fast Food for Indian, and Kiko for sushi. Asian Inn in Viale Marconi does ace Chinese regional cuisine and has a very good wine list. Nearby, Dumpling Bar serves…dumplings. 7 Lanka does cheap and tasty Sri Lankan dishes, while Neighborhood Restaurant serves excellent Filipino & Kapampangan cuisines.
In the regional Italian category, Trattoria Monti is wonderful for specialties from Le Marche. Tram Tram is great for fish and vegetable classics from Puglia.
Guides for Various Publications
Where to Eat and Drink in San Lorenzo (Bon Appetit)
The New Wave of Roman Pizza (Eater)
Best Pizza in Rome (Condé Nast Traveler)
Rome’s Disappearing Dishes (Saveur)
Rome Restaurants: New Takes on the Classics (Food & Wine)
Rome City Guide (The Infatuation)
Friday Fives: Katie Parla’s Guide To Rome (The Infatuation)
5 Under the Radar Spots (Vogue)
Travel Guide: Rome (Saveur)
The Pinnacle of Pasta: The Top 9 Plates of Pasta in Rome (Bon Appetit)
Katie Parla’s Guide to Rome (Imbibe)
City Guide: Rome (PUNCH)
Where to Eat in Rome (Serious Eats)
Where to Eat, Drink, and Sleep in Rome (Bon Appetit)
Roman Holiday (Imbibe)
Ask an Expert: Katie Parla (AFAR)
“Saturday Night in Rome” (PUNCH)
A Boozy Tour of Rome (Fathom)
10 Ways to Enjoy Rome on a Budget (The Guardian)
Unmissable Spring Foods in Rome (The Local)
Rome’s New Take on Pizza (The Guardian)
Rome Street Food (Food & Wine)
You Tube Series
Apps, Ebooks, and Guide Books
In addition to all those free resources on where to eat in Rome, I also have a few guides on various paid platforms. For portable versions of my top picks for dining, drinking and shopping for food, check out my ebook “Eating & Drinking in Rome” (available in Kindle and PDF format).
And finally for Rome’s top cultural attractions, check out my guidebook National Geographic’s Walking Rome.
*I do not accept comps, discounts, freebies, press invites or any other such form of exchange. I cannot stress enough how rare this is in this town.