Rome is packed to the rafters with varied food and wine options. We’ve singled out 10 of the city’s most popular food-centric neighborhoods and suggested a handful of places out the many we know that are worth visiting in each area.
Food mecca par excellence, the Testaccio neighborhood has historically been associated with foodstuffs: from the ancient port on the banks of the Tiber river where traders hauled anforas of olive oil, wine, grains and other goods; to the location for Rome’s first slaughterhouse (in operation until 1974) provided the culture that initiated traditional offal recipes such as tripe, coratella, oxtail and sweetbreads. Offal lovers will flock to places like Flavio al Velavevodetto and Checchino dal 1887; homestyle cookery can be found at the informal tables of Agustarello and La Torricella, plus thin crust pizza at Da Remo. Upscale gourmet dining at La Stazione di Posta.
Calling it “historic center” is somewhat of a misnomer: Rome is one big historic center! By centro storico – a maze of narrow streets and cobbled alleys filled with churches and palaces built during the Renaissance and baroque eras – locals designate a triangular area comprised between Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Excellent meals can be enjoyed at Armando al Pantheon, Salumeria Roscioli and Otello; for fine upscale dining book a table at Il SanLorenzo. Score tasty snacks with a glass of sparkle at Supplizio or Antico Forno Roscioli.
Restaurants, both kosher and not, provide huge insight into this area’s deep culture and astounding heritage, among them are Nonna Betta, Baghetto Milky and Piperno.
Trastevere developed as a Medieval city-within-a-city, characterized by narrow, winding alleys, rooftop homes, hidden churches and gathering piazzas. The bohemian district across the Tiber from the Jewish Ghetto offers tiny osterias tucked in cobbled streets, established seafood shrines, lesser known pastry shops, and local hangouts only insiders know of. Among the best restaurants, La Gensola for great fish, Da Enzo for informal local dishes, Osteria Fernanda for eclectic fine dining and Glass Hostaria for Michelin-star meals. Gelateria Fior di Luna churns some of the best gelato in town and Pianostrada LaboratoriodiCucina offers salads, sandwiches, pasta and desserts made with high quality ingredients.
The courthouse area of Prati, adjacent Vatican City and Trionfale neighborhoods all cluster to bring Romans some of the finest food shopping and dining in town. Pizza by the slice lovers flock to Pizzarium for high quality ingredients atop perfectly leavened dough. The city’s best cheeses can be sought among the over five hundred in stock at La Tradizione. Vintage ambiance and pefectly brewed espresso are what make Romans rub elbows at the counter of Sciascia. Great places to grab a quick lunch or linger over more substantial meals are Romeo, L’Arcangelo for Italian fare and Taki for haute Japanese food.
Buzzing with hipster wine bars, food shops and trendy restaurants, Monti is smaller and less touristy than the loud nightlife hub of Trastevere and Campo de’ Fiori, yet it retains a strong community vibe, attracting a mixed crowd of locals and expats. Wine bars with great food is where Monti shines: Ai Tre Scalini, La Barrique and Al Vino al Vino. Grab your gourmet sandwiches at Monti institutions Tricolore, the delightful Zia Rosetta and at Gaudeo, while for organic, bistro-style dining head over to Urbana 47, Dall’Antò, Aromaticus but do save room for gelato at Fatamorgana, or chocolate at Grezzo.
Pigneto sits between two main consular roads, Via Prenestina and Via Casilina. Its upbeat vibe, rainbow of cultures and ages makes this one of Rome’s most hip and funky neighborhoods. Spilling with bars, eateries and bistros, this part of Rome attracts a loyal crowd of locals and expats alike. Light meals, sandwiches and salads can be enjoyed at I Porchettoni, Fontanella al 30, ‘Na Cosetta, Bottiglieria Pigneto; while Rösti, La Santeria, Circolo degli Artisti and Necci dal 1924 all boast a stellar vibe, plus serve snacks, fun menus and drinks at any time of day.
Middle class and delightfully vintage, Monteverde is a residential gem. Perched and isolated doesn’t mean un-welcoming, to the contrary. The Monteverde – Gianicolense area of Rome is home to beautifully landscaped apartment buildings, nice shops and a beautiful mercato rionale (neighborhood produce market). Well connected with public transport, safe and elegant, this is the place for some of the city’s finest dining and drinking. Favorites are Cesare al Casaletto, Osteria di Monteverde, Tutto Qua, and Litro which is a superb wine bar that serves very good food, well-mixed cocktails and that specializes in natural wines.
The area around the Termini train station is often overlooked and considered seedy. Not much typical Rome charm, but lots of affordable options near the transportation hub of the city and great food finds. Ancient Rome’s Esquiline Hill adjacent to the train station area should also not be overlooked. Fine cuisine and quality wines at Trattoria Monti, and at Da Danilo where you can score superb cucina romana. Nice aperitivo with tasty snacks is served in the outdoor part of star bread baker Panella, while great vegetarian meals are cooked with love at the delightful hostel/b&b The Beehive. Gelato lovers, don’t miss Come il Latte, and its chocolate-spilling fountains…
Rome’s northeast neighborhoods are characterized by elegant architecture, acres of green parks, embassies, and a number of lovely museums. It’s safe, quiet, beautiful and expensive, plus not likely to attract as many travelers or expats, but this part of town is packed with very attractive food and drink options. In the Piazza Fiume area are delightful Osteria dell’Arco restaurant, and Proloco Pinciano, a place that showcases local Lazio products. Nice lunches and value meals are served in the Parioli ‘hood at minuscule Smol and Pizzeria La Pariolina, but if it’s Michelin star dining you’re after, book a table at Metamorfosi, you won’t be disappointed!
What’s your favorite Rome neighborhood for food and drink?
Eleonora Baldwin is a TV host, freelance food and travel writer, and culinary connoisseur based in Rome, Italy. Her writing appears in several food and travel publications. Her shows “ABCheese” and “Uazz’america” are broadcast on Italian food network Gambero Rosso Channel. Her podcast “iCheese” is recorded live on the Radio Food Live network.