Trastevere is a neighbourhood with a unique history. Originally, this was where the Etruscans (an ancient Italian tribe) were relocated, and then where the working class and artisans lived. Today, it’s home to some of the best bars in Rome; here’s where to find them, from traditional hangouts to the newest and chicest neighbourhood venues.
404. Name Not Found
Bar, Cafe, Italian, $$$
In Italy, a café is generally a meeting place for a drink, whereas a bar is for a quick (or long) coffee break – but there’s no such confusion at 404 Name Not Found, which does both these things simultaneously.Café all day long, local watering hole by night, this quaint spot in Trastevere is a true gem. The clientele is split between Trastevere’s residents, tourists and students – 404 appeals to them all. It opens early for breakfast and serves food and drink all day long – you can pop in for a coffee, tea or a “quick” Italian lunch. From its assortment of panini to heaped dishes of pasta and polenta, everything is freshly made and focuses on seasonal cuisine. As a bar, 404 only features Italian craft beer (tap and bottle) and collaborates exclusively with one wine company offering bottles from right across the country, and perfectly mixed cocktails.
Enza Li Gioi, a writer and playwright, decided to revive the lost tradition of literary cafés that existed in 18th-century Italy by opening Lettere Caffè. A meeting place that supports and showcases the arts in all forms, the café offers literary presentations and book swapping events, and its calendar changes frequently to keep things fresh. But you can also just come here to chill out and have a drink – it serves a vegetarian/vegan aperitivo every day from 7pm to 9pm.This is the place where writers, poets, artists and musicians (and the people who appreciate them) come to work or find inspiration, and you’ll find Enza and her artist daughter Costanza here almost every night. This unique space offers a cultural hub in the community, with excellent deals on Italian wines.
Alcazar combines cinema, concerts and art with good food and drink. The first and only venue in Rome dedicated to funk, soul, jazz and blues, it attracts artists from all over the world, and every Sunday there’s even an American brunch and an Agora Market where you can browse artisanal, handmade products and crafts by emerging designers.
La Punta is a tribute to all things Mexico – from the colourful interiors to the flavourful food and cocktails. There are over 500 different types of tequila and mezcal to choose from, and its signature Margaritas and Palomas are not to be missed.Most of the time you will find at least one of the owners there, ready to give you a warm welcome and a crash-course introduction to the beloved agave. In this case, blending cultures and ingredients turns out something truly one-of-a-kind.
Bar, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, Pub Grub, Italian, $$$
Freni e Frizioni (“brakes and clutches”), a former mechanic shop turned street-side cocktail bar, has become something of an institution in Trastevere since opening in 2006. Freni has one of the best aperitivos in Rome; take a seat at the bar if you want to see the energetic and always entertaining bartenders in action, but most patrons congregate in the large piazza along the wall ledge and stairs. Themed cocktail menus, which change every six months, demonstrate its ethos of constant experimentation – Freni also offers a special “drink of the week” so you can try something new each time you visit.
Renovated in April 2019, Hotel San Francesco is a small and charming modern boutique hotel on the border of Trastevere and Testaccio that is home to Jacopa – a lobby bar, gourmet restaurant and rooftop destination all in one. Named after the street it’s on – which is named after Saint Jacopa – the bar has one of the largest terraces in Rome and cocktails at a fraction of the cost of the rooftop bars in the city centre; here, you’ll enjoy a sunset glass of wine and panoramic views over the best of Rome without the hefty price tag.
Coffee Pot is a unique combo: a fusion restaurant serving up tapas, sushi, tacos and mezcal, which mixes flavours and concepts in everything from the decor, to the dishes and drinks. After dinner, this restaurant-bar often turns into a dance party, attracting mainly students and young professionals. Despite the high volume of guests, the cocktails remain top-notch, served up by some of the most skilled bartenders in Trastevere. Start with a dinner unlike any you’ll experience elsewhere in Rome, and see where the night takes you – you may very well find yourself still there at closing time.
Right in the middle of the sometimes chaotic Trastevere, Enoteca Ferrara is an unusual oasis – it’s housed in an old monastery just off the Piazza Trilussa. The historic interiors are an attraction in themselves, and there are several different levels to explore. Head to the front bar for aperitivo, to the lower level for a cosy, intimate glass of wine, or to the back for a formal dining experience. It’s about as traditionally Italian as it gets, rustic but with a modern, elegant sheen. If you’re searching for a quality glass of wine and the atmosphere to match, Enoteca Ferrara needs to be on your list.
Tucked away in a quiet corner, this members-only bar (just sign up for a card downstairs) is a relaxed alternative to the livelier bars in the area. The dark interiors and plush couches make this a perfect place for a romantic evening out or a small gathering with friends. The drinks menu is very creative, and the staff are always eager to assist with your selection. Combining speakeasy charm with a warm welcome, Niji is the perfect escape from the crowded and bustling streets of Trastevere.