Rome’s centro storico, or historic center, contains many of the city’s most visited areas and attractions: it spans from Campo de’ Fiori, the Jewish Ghetto and Piazza Navona to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. As you make your way from one splendor to another and lose yourself down the winding cobblestone streets, you’re sure to work up an appetite and crave some tasty Roman cuisine. After eating our way through the Eternal City we’ve rounded up our favorite restaurants that span the different neighborhoods and cover all budgets. Buon appetito!
Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Ditirambo is a cozy trattoria just steps from bustling Campo de’ Fiori but tucked away enough that it’s easy to miss if you’re not keeping your eyes out. It serves stellar traditional fare in a rustic setting with attentive service and great prices. The menu is ample, even touting a number of vegetarian dishes, and everything is extremely flavorful and comforting. What’s not to love? Save room for dessert because it’s excellent.
Considered to be one of the most up-scale and sought-after restaurants in town, Pierluigi is a perfect representation of Rome’s understated elegance: it lies in a lovely but unassuming piazza behind Campo de’ Fiori and provides traditional white tablecloth service with extremely professional but friendly waiters. It excels at fish and seafood, with prices to match its high caliber entrées and clientele. Pierluigi attracts elite locals and noteworthy foreign guests who stop by to eat here when they’re in town so you just may run into some VIPs during your visit.
Just up the street from the elegant antique shops on Via dei Coronari, you might not expect to stumble upon such a local and honest spot. Serving everything from Roman classics and wood-fired pizza to a wide range of fresh fish dishes – an anomaly at a casual eatery in Rome – Ristorante Fiammetta has you covered. With homey service, great prices and both indoor and outdoor seating, it’s a hidden treasure for a great meal close to all the action.
With so much pasta and pizza dominating the menus of Italian restaurants, why not try something different for a change? If you’re in the mood for burgers, Open Baladin has the best patties in the center of Rome and one of the largest selections of beer on draft. A collaboration between two Italian breweries, Baladin and Birra del Borgo, Open Baladin has over 40 rotating beers on tap and tantalizing burger options. Meat eaters will want to opt for one of the classics, featuring a 180 gram patty of fine beef from Piemonte, though there are plenty of delicious chicken, vegetarian and vegan options here too.
If you’re feeling indecisive, Emma‘s extensive menu won’t necessarily make ordering easier but it will give you lots of options to choose from. This modern restaurant excels at everything it prepares, offering a wide range of antipasti, pizzas, pastas, and meats to suit everyone’s preference. Emma prides itself on using the best ingredients in all of its dishes so provenance is always listed next to its menu items. The wine list is 18 pages long, covering varietals across Italy and France and includes a wide selection of champagne if you’re in the mood for a treat.
A great trattoria and pizzeria near Piazza Navona, Da Francesco has the good fortune of being situated right in Piazza del Fico, one of the loveliest squares in the city. It has been around since 1957 and has an ample menu, excelling at everything it serves: pastas, grilled meats, pizzas and desserts. As is the trend with traditional trattorie, it is no frills and the focus is on the food. Try the filetto al pepe verde, steak with a creamy green pepper sauce, or opt for one of the Roman-style pizzas: perfectly thin, crispy and tasty.
To sample some of Rome’s classic dishes, head over to Enoteca Corsi near the Pantheon, a lunchtime-only eatery with rotating daily specials using seasonal ingredients and an extensive wine-list. It’s a favorite with suited businessmen enjoying a leisurely meal and the atmosphere is casual and friendly. The artichoke lasagna is divine and they serve gnocchi on Thursdays as per Italian tradition.
A delightful restaurant lying on a perpendicular street from busy Via del Corso, Il Falchetto has a tasty menu of modernized classic dishes in a surprisingly calm and lovely atmosphere. You’ll find a wide range of options here, including a fish menu, in a refined but casual setting. Everything is beautifully presented, from the antipasti to the desserts, and you’d do well to opt for one of the tables outside beneath the veranda to round out the whole experience.
This mainstay brings specialties from the Emilia-Romagna region to Rome: think pumpkin ravioli, tagliatelle with bolognese sauce and thinly sliced Parma ham. This is comfort food at its finest and the restaurant’s simple atmosphere makes its entrées shine. It is a favorite with locals who have been coming here for decades: this family-run restaurant has been in business since 1931.
Piperno is a prime contender for best old-school restaurant in the city and is in fact one of the oldest in Rome, dating back to 1860. Located in the Jewish Ghetto, it offers high-end Jewish fare prominently featuring artichokes, fried appetizers and fish-based pastas. With its wood paneled interior, billiard-green green walls, and white-suited waiters, it is an evocative step back in time. Save room for Piperno’s signature dessert: palle del nonno (grandfather’s balls). These fried dough balls have chocolate shavings and are a unique way to top off your meal.