Off Rome’s tourist trail, but within walking distance of the magnificent Forum and Coliseum, this bohemian neighborhood is where trendy Romans go for food. From high-end restaurants to traditional joints, here are ten of Monti’s standout restaurants.
Ai Tre Scalini
Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, Wine, Beer, $
Alongside a comprehensive list of exclusively Italian wines, with an emphasis on local options from the Lazio area, Ai Tre Scalini boats a mouth-watering menu that includes hearty dishes such as porchetta and more creative options such as ricotta cheese with truffle honey. It gets packed in the evenings, around aperitivo time, and the crowds spill out onto the cobblestone streets late into the night to the sound of jazz and traditional Roman music.
Restaurant, Bistro, Italian, Vegetarian, $
The urban farmer’s dream, Aromaticus is a restaurant that sells plants, spices, herbs and even edible flowers, along with the tools you need to start your own backyard farm. But this place is not strictly vegetarian and the menu includes steak tartare using fine Piedmontese Fassona beef, carpaccio of salty cod with figs and almonds and an evolving variety of salads. Fresh juices, craft beers and a selective wine list complete its offerings. Come here for a light and healthy, but expertly crafted meal using the fresh ingredients.
A favorite lunch spot among businessmen and government workers from the nearby Quirinal Palace, Da Valentino is a vintage and old-fashioned trattoria. The menu includes a variety of typical meat and pasta dishes, but the standout is a grilled scamorza cheese prepared in all sorts of variations. Simple furniture with white tablecloths completes this unpretentious and classic Roman institution.
Gaudeo’s brief is simple: paninis, done in style. Founded in 2012 by a group of friends who sought to inject some passion into a standard snack, Gaudeo crafts fusions of the finest ingredients to create paninis you won’t find elsewhere. The bread is specially made by Antico Forno Roscioli, one of Rome’s oldest and best bakeries. The fillings are a varied list of cured meats, cheeses and vegetables. Customers can have their panini to go, or sit and enjoy it with a beer or wine.
L’Asino d’Oro is the creation of chef Lucio Sforza, who brought his trade from his native Umbria to a northern suburb of Rome, before opening his current venture in Monti in 2010. Sophisticated interior design featuring elegant modern furniture with red upholstery is mirrored in the well-presented food. Whether it’s wild boar cooked with chocolate, ‘drunk goose’ with cherries and pine nuts, or blancmange garnished with broccoli and horseradish, Sforza’s cooking is full of deliciously contrasting flavors. The set lunch offers some of the best value for money in Rome, with three gourmet courses and a glass of wine for €13.
Restaurant, Romanian, Italian, $
This traditional Roman osteria has been running since 1906, serving anyone who considered themselves a ‘lover of robust flavors.’ The name comes from the fact that the original chef was married to a carbonaio, a charcoal burner. Yet La Carbonara is as trendy as it is historic, and diners can write a message on the wall after their meals. The restaurant serves timeless Roman dishes such as ricotta and walnut ravioli and the pasta alla carbonara itself. For the more adventurous diners, La Carbonara is a good place to try offal or tripe, softened with assortments of vegetables.
La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali
Restaurant, Romanian, $
The grand name of this establishment pleasantly contrasts with the relaxed, down-to-earth nature of the restaurant, which has built a loyal following since it opened over a decade ago. La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali serves up delicious Roman and wider Italian food. Everything from trofie alla putanesca (a short pasta with a feisty olive, caper and tomato sauce) to pan-fried scallops cooked with ham and sage, or Sicilian swordfish feature on the menu. The walls are lined with photos of many famous clients who have eaten here, from iconic Italian-Americans such as Roberto de Niro and Al Pacino, to Lou Reed and Woody Allen.
Pizzeria Alle Carrette
Restaurant, Pizzeria, Italian
No list of Monti’s best cultural restaurants would be complete without an old-school pizzeria, and that’s where Alle Carrette comes in. This is a true neighborhood joint, with the same staff serving a loyal clientele for decades. Wood fired pizzas can be enjoyed in over 20 tried-and-tested recipes, such as margheritas served with mozzarella di bufala and argula, rocket, capriciosa, and calzones.Knowing their market, they serve little else beyond salads and fritti, typical Roman fried artichoke hearts and fried courgettes.
Restaurant, Diner, Italian, $$
Undoubtedly a contender for the best trattoria in Rome, Trattoria Monti is hugely popular due to its friendly service, stylish décor, and top-quality dishes. Booking well in advance is essential. Run by the Camerucci family from Marches, with the mother in the kitchen and two brothers out front, they bring a creative, well-balanced menu. Game finds its way onto the menu, such as the tagliatelle with duck or rabbit casserole, as well as the exquisite tortello al rosso d’uovo, large ravioli filled with raw egg yolk, ricotta and spinach.
Urbana 47 is about ‘zero kilometer’ food: fresh ingredients sourced from the local Lazio region, highlighting the countryside’s culinary value and including many organic and free-range products. Serving breakfast, lunch, tapas and dinner, there is a wide variety of exciting options on the menu like boiled rabbit salad with plums and pomegranate, stracchino cheese with grilled vegetables, persimmon marmalade and spelt crepes, and pumpkin muffins with cinnamon foam. A stylish, minimalist design, brick and piping still visible alongside simple iron chairs, puts Urbana 47 at the forefront of a new generation of trendy Roman restaurants. If not eating, free WiFi makes it the perfect place to relax over a coffee.
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