A regular in top ten lists of authentic Roman dining, Da Danilo looks the part with its red-and-white checkered table cloths and the portraits of famous people surrounding its guests in the homely dining area. This family-owned trattoria has been hailed in the press multiple times for its unbeatable Roman classics, a menu which addresses its carbonara as royalty (‘Sua Maestà La Carbonara’) is surely proof that Danilo and his team take their pasta very seriously indeed.
Address: Da Danilo, Via Petrarca 13, Rome, Italy, +39 06 7720 0111
Throughout most of the day, it is an unassuming shop selling fresh pasta on the Via della Croce, but at one o’clock local workers flock to the pastificio on their lunch break for a hot plate of pasta. Customers choose from two varieties (gnocchi are served on Thursdays) and a glass of wine on the house if lucky. Served in disposable containers, you can sit inside, room permitting, or else take out and eat at the Spanish Steps round the corner. First come, first served.
Address: Pastificio, Via della Croce 8, Rome, Italy, +39 06 6793102
Armando al Pantheon
You’ll be forgiven for mistaking Armando al Pantheon for just another tourist trap based on its prime location a mere 30 meters from the ancient temple to the Roman gods. But the first taste will receal your mistake. Half a century after Armando Gargioli opened a modest ‘bottiglieria con cucina’; today, at the same address, this restaurant, now a culinary icon of the capital, it still serving up the best of traditional Roman cuisine, with an added modern touch of separate menus for ‘local’ and ‘vegetarian’ pasta dishes.
Address: Armando al Pantheon, Salita de’ Crescenzi 31, Rome, Italy, +39 06 6880 3034
Pasta and street food come together in this health-minded locale in the heart of Rome. Proponents of the Slow Food movement, the urban staff at Ciao Checca specialize in making la Checca, a pasta dish which they claim to have mastered better than anyone. Compiled of only basil, tomatoes and mozzarella, they insist that customers eat it with a spoon to get the full flavour. The ingredients are as freshly sourced as can be, and a gluten-free option is available at a slightly higher price.
Starting out as a local grocery store selling freshly-baked bread, cured meats and a selection of cheeses in the Jewish quarter of Rome, Roscioli branched out in 2002 into a restaurant which utilized all its top-quality products as the raw materials for its recipes. Behind the initiative are brothers Alessandro and Pierluigi, the older of whom points to rigatoni burro e parmigiano as his favorite item on the menu. Using a type of sweet butter and 36-month matured parmesan as the base for its sauce, we can see why: order a bowlful with a glass of wine from one of their 2800 premier labels and you’ve got yourself dinner fit for a king.
Address: Roscioli, Via dei Giubbonari 21/22, Rome, Italy, +39 06 687 5287
I Porchettoni a San Lorenzo
It seems value for money is especially hard to come by these days in this pasta-loving capital, but I Porchettoni is a rare yet delicious treat which promises just that. On a Monday or Wednesday evening, you can drop in after 10pm for an all-you-care-to-eat pasta feast for only a few euros. If you can’t stomach eating that late, the pasta generally comes in affordable and abundant portions at all times of the day. Meat sauces are the speciality of this place, so a pasta all’amatriciana or alla gricia are a guaranteed delight.
Address: I Porchettoni a San Lorenzo, Via dei Marrucini 18/C, Rome, Italy, +39 06 8786 0066
Although seafood pasta dishes are by no means typical of Italian cities which lie inland, Il Sanlorenzo has the same credentials as any place on the coast, and is often quoted as the best seafood restaurant in town. The catch of the fisherman from the island of Ponza, just off the coast of Lazio, is delivered fresh to the restaurant and chefs conjure up pasta delights containing prawns, sea urchins and sword fish everyday. You’ll pay a premium for the fine-dining experience, but you won’t regret it.
Address: Il Sanlorenzo, Via dei Chiavari 4/5, Rome, Italy, +39 06 686 5097
If you come early enough on a Monday morning, you’ll see the yellow sheets of fresh egg pasta draped on the tables, waiting to be hand cut. This scene sets the tone for a wonderfully authentic experience at Sora Margherita, a shoebox restaurant which you can find only by locating the street number (30) for lack of any signposting. Here they like to top their cacio e pepe off with a surprise twist in the form of ricotta cheese, but the rest of its pasta dishes are as you’d expect. It’s a good idea to book a table before the mad weekday lunchtime rush.
Address: Sora Margherita, Piazza delle Cinque Scole 30, Rome, Italy, +39 06 687 4216
Checchino dal 1887
Located in Rome’s historic meat-packing district of Testaccio, Checchino is a slice of culinary history, having been run by five successive generations of the Mariani family. Their best pasta dishes are the ones with offal, the tender remains of the slaughtered animals with which the workers at the nearby abattoir used to be paid in the 19th century. One such gem is the tonnarelli al sugo di coda alla vaccinara, the sauce of which was invented by the current owner’s great-grandmother.
Address: Checchino dal 1887, Via di Monte Testaccio 30, Rome, Italy, +39 06 574 3816
La Tavernaccia da Bruno
La Tavernaccia is just across the river from Testaccio, in the quieter, residential part of the trendy Trastevere district. The chef of this cozy rustic trattoria certainly knows how to whip up a great pasta dish, and has incorporated several recipes from the native land of his Umbrian wife (the owner of the trattoria) into the menu, including pappardelle al cinghiale (pasta with a wild-boar ragú). Crucially though, this is not done at the expense of the traditional Roman recipes, of which their rigatoni alla carbonara is a must-try.
Address: La Tavernaccia da Bruno, Via Panfilo Castaldi 12, Rome, Italy +39 06 5812792