Set against the Tiber River, Trastevere reigns as the most photogenic neighbourhood in Rome, set flush in medieval alleyways and ivy-strewn palazzos. But it’s more than just a pretty face; it also flaunts a serious food scene, home to everything from historic trattorias to bold fine-dining spots and Rome’s current pizza A-lister.
To navigate Trastevere’s foodie landscape, Culture Trip sat down with its most notable chefs – Antonio Ziantoni of Zia Restaurant; Jacopo Ricci and Piero Drago of Jacopa; and Pier Daniele Seu of Seu Pizza Illuminati. Their restaurants have fast become the sweethearts of critics and residents, cementing Trastevere’s reputation as a culinary stronghold. The experts share where to find the best carbonara in the district, what to order at its top seafood restaurant, and who to turn to for Michelin-star fare.
Located in the quieter fringes of Trastevere behind Piazza San Cosimato, restaurant Proloco DOL is a delicious romp through the Lazio region, says Chef Ziantoni. “It’s one of the very few eateries in the city to use exclusively Laziali ingredients that are meticulously sourced by owner Vincenzo Mancini, who is a pioneer of promoting and safeguarding artisan producers.” Come here for taglieri that sigh with local cured meats and cheeses, handmade pasta transformed into cucina romana classics like cacio e pepe and amatriciana, and wood-oven fired pizzas. Happy hour promises a menu of 7 snacks chosen by the chefs plus a cocktail (try the Amaro Tonic, a mix of Laziale bitters with peppermint, lime, ginger ale and spices) for just 10 euro.
Seu's thick-crusted pizzas bow under the weight of unique toppings | Courtesy of Seu Pizza Illuminati
Pier Daniele Seu’s eponymous pizzeria is having a moment. Open for a little over a year, Seu Pizza Illuminati came in at number eight in the ranking of Italy’s best pizzerias; Seu also picked up the award for best pizzaiolo of the year. Thick-crusted pizzas are decked out in the season’s best. Fall brings assoluta di zucca, with pumpkin three ways and pecorino cheese, and maialino nel bosco, with ciauscolo sausage, chestnut purée, hazelnuts, fior di latte cheese and mushrooms. The dining room is as cool and modern as Pier Daniele and his business partner-wife Valeria. “Save room for their incredible dessert pizzas,” recommends Ziantoni.
“Don’t let its location on Trastevere’s tourist drag fool you – Osteria der Belli dishes out food you want to eat,” says Seu. The Sardinian restaurant specialises in no-frills seafood dishes: octopus and roasted potatoes; sea bass carpaccio, and grilled calamari are menu staples. Belli also proposes a few fabulous vegetarian dishes, like their fettuccine alla sarda, pasta in a dreamy mushroom sauce, and spinach and ricotta ravioli – the owner’s sisters roll out fresh pasta daily. In the warmer months, look to land a table on their outdoor terrace, which is excellent for people-watching.
Zia Restaurant (behind Piazza San Cosimato) crafts a menu that flirts with both Italian and French influences, like their catch-of-the-day perfectly drenched in beurre blanc, capers and liquorice and blue cheese plin in a clove broth. To best sample Ziantoni’s culinary prowess, go for one of the tasting menus, which is €55 (£47) for five courses, or €75 (£64) for seven. Service glides smoothly along with the help of the chef’s business and real-life partner Ida. Seu, Ricci and Drago all heap praise on chef Ziantoni. “Not only is Antonio’s food technically perfect, but he’s an incredibly hard worker and humble,” says Seu. “They ignore trends and don’t cater to the masses when it comes to their dishes,” adds Ricci.
Helmed by Cristina Bowerman, the only female chef in the city to hold a Michelin star, Glass Hostaria weaves Italian cuisine with ingredients hailing far from the capital. Rabbit-stuffed tortelli, coconut sauce, green curry and pine nuts; frangipane, cherries and wasabi; and lamb, sumac, pumpkin, green olives, black cabbage and Stilton cheese all appease diners looking for something more innovative than cacio e pepe. “Chef Bowerman laid the groundwork of fine-dining in Trastevere; besides the excellent food, the dining room is also refined and elegant. We’ve been here for our staff dinners,” Chef Ziantoni says. And if you’re under 25, every third Thursday of the month Glass offers a 25 percent discount on all dishes.
As its name gives away, this cozy eatery’s menu is devoted entirely to eggs. Chicken, quail, ostrich, and even caviar star in dishes. Locals adore the restaurant for its sublime carbonara, served in a frying pan. if you’ve already sampled the traditional recipe, branch out with their black garlic and seared octopus version, or their potato spaghetti with bacon, pecorino, and a 64-degree egg among several other alternatives. “I’m impressed with how the restaurant has built their entire concept on one ingredient,” shares Ziantoni. For dessert, you won’t regret saving a little extra room for Eggs’ zabaione and cantucci biscuits.
Jacopo Ricci and Piero Drago’s restaurant Jacopa tops both Seu and Ziantoni’s lists. “Their cuisine is thought-out and bright,” says Ziantoni. The duo’s dishes rotate based on the seasons and span the land and sea; think ravioli with rabbit and olives, baccala with radicchio and elixir di China liquor; and tortelli with parmesan, carrots and cumin. “In the spring and summer Jacopa’s terrace is open for business,” shares Seu. “Head here for a cocktail or a glass of wine paired with their ciriole, traditional sandwiches stuffed with oxtail or vegetables.” Too cold for an outdoor tipple? The restaurant also has a cocktail bar in house.
For an all-night affair, check out Santo Trastevere. Come here for dinner – slow-cooked lamb and eggplant stuffed bottoni pasta leave the kitchen fast – and stay well into the evening for drinks and live music every Wednesday. The chef also proposes a menu of food and cocktail pairings. “I find the restaurant’s dishes delicious and playful, and the dining room’s design is refreshingly contemporary; it often plays double duty as an art gallery,” says Ziantoni. “We often stop here for a drink after work if it’s been an adrenaline-filled service.”
Da Enzo trattoria, Travestere | Courtesy of Da Enzo
The consistently high quality of the food at Da Enzo has earned it its status as a true local favorite. The restaurant’s ethos fresh, organic ingredients. Produce comes from nearby farms and everything, from the olive oil to the cheese, is sourced as locally as possible. The restaurant is set in a tranquil area in Rome’s Trastevere region across the Tiber River. This wonderfully medieval area with its fascinating Jewish influences, charming alleys and stunning mix of architecture, is a great place to wander about in the evenings. Make a stop off at Da Enzo, this traditional Roman trattoria with its simple but welcoming decor.
A bowl of tripe at La Trippa | Courtesy of La Trippa
The muse of this down-to-earth trattoria? La trippa, or tripe, otherwise known as cows’ stomach. Love it or hate it, tripe is an absolute staple of rustic Roman cuisine, traditionally prepared with tomato sauce, mentuccia (wild mint) and a lavish grating of pecorino cheese. Osteria Trippa’s menu includes fried tripe, tripe ravioli, tripe with beans and tripe meatballs. “I admire that they are so devoted to an ingredient that is symbolic of the region,” says Ziantoni. If you can’t stomach the thought of tripe (no pun intended), tuck into handmade pasta with broccoli and hazelnut pesto or baccalà alla trasteverina, codfish cooked with raisins, onions and pine nuts.