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Italy has endless varieties of pasta and each region – and often, each tiny town or village too – has its own rules and recipes. In Rome, ingredients like tomatoes, eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese and guanciale (cured pig jowl) are often the main components of the city’s traditional cuisine and are featured in simple, no-nonsense dishes, such as amatriciana, carbonara, cacio e pepe and gricia. Here are some of the best places to find the carby classics in the Eternal City.
This family-run restaurant in southern Trastevere is well known for its consistently excellent dining experience. Rustic, home-style cooking from Rome and Umbria is on the menu and, what’s more, the genuinely friendly staff are happy to guide you through it too. Pasta-wise, there are dishes like pappardelle with wild boar, amatriciana, lasagna cooked in a wood-fired oven, as well as delicious seasonal specialties, such as broad bean ravioli in a cacio e pepe sauce.
Opened in 1936, Felice is a Roman institution. Its namesake, Felice Trivelloni, had such a reputation for being grumpy with customers that it has been worked into the restaurant’s marketing spin and is even nostalgically mentioned on the website. Service can still be surly but it remains loved by locals, who come back for old-school dishes like the cacio e pepe, which is theatrically mixed at the table.
This old-fashioned pasta shop is a much-needed gem among the sub-par eateries of the Spanish Steps area. Join the queue for a bargainous and generous €4 (£3.55) portion of freshly cooked pasta, which can be eaten in or taken away. There are two types of pasta to choose from – usually no-nonsense dishes like amatriciana or pesto sauce – and the deal includes a bottle of water, and, if you’re lucky enough to find a space to sit inside, a small glass of wine.
Secure reservations at Le Mani in Pasta in advance as the warm, informal atmosphere and high-quality fare make this place a firm favourite with locals. The pastas are just one of the highlights of the menu and range from classic Roman recipes to daily, seasonal specials, with seafood often taking a starring role – such as the indulgent lobster linguine. The grilled fish and shellfish secondi are also not to be missed.
Not to be confused with the aforementioned Trastevere-based restaurant, this pasta joint is located inside Testaccio Market. The name might be the same but the vibe is completely different – here shoppers can grab fresh egg pasta, sold by weight, to cook at home, or a hot dish ready to eat immediately. Check out the chalkboard menu that features recipes like tagliolini with anchovy, capers and lemon, and artichoke-stuffed ravioli, all priced at around €5–7 (£4.50–£6.20).
Da Enzo excels in wholesome Roman fare. Their classic pasta dishes, such as carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe, are all excellent – as are the secondi, so be sure to save room for a main as well. The polpette (meatballs) or coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) are both solid choices. This tiny locale is incredibly popular so book ahead (the only time available is 7.30pm) or expect to queue.