While the pedestrian thoroughfare of Via del Pigneto boasts a number of establishments perfect for aperitivo and, later on, barhopping, the most iconic watering hole in the neighbourhood is Necci dal 1924. It was a favourite hangout of director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who shot his first film Accattone here in 1961. The locals still gather in the courtyard, sipping coffee or a cocktail in much the same way as in times gone by but the menu has had some modern upgrades.
Old-school vinyl has enjoyed a revival in recent years, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Pigneto, with its young and trendy reputation, has a number of places to hunt for discs. While Ghost Record Store and Radiation Records both deal in wide-ranging genres, Blutopia on Via del Pigneto is a real musical haven. Don’t miss the second-hand bookstore upstairs either.
Though teeming with revellers by night, Pigneto has a more village-like feel during the day. Small stalls, bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables, line the main street of Via del Pigneto. Many of the bancaroli, or stall owners, have been selling their wares to Romans for generations, so don’t be afraid to ask for suggestions on how best to enjoy the rainbow of produce on offer.
Vibrant and revitalising fare is on the menu at vegetarian café, Vitaminas 24. Dishes include wraps, soups, smoothies and a number of Brazilian specialties such as coxinhas, empadas and risoles. As well as showcasing tropical flavours, Vitaminas 24 chooses only organic, seasonal ingredients, many from producers in the Lazio region. The €12 lunch deal (€13 at dinner) is great value and consists of soup, salad and one of the daily specials – think veggie burgers, savoury tarts and vegan ‘meatballs’.
After years of delays due to funding issues and the discovery of archeological remains, Pigneto finally got its own metro stop in January 2015. However, while the C line happily transports people out into the eastern suburbs of Rome, it doesn’t yet connect to city centre. Residents are eagerly awaiting the big day, which is apparently scheduled for 2018. In the meantime, do as the locals do and don’t bother with the metro. To reach Pigneto, take tram 5 or 14 from Termini.
With no flashy signs – or, in fact, almost any superfluous decoration – you’d be forgiven for passing La Gelateria del Pigneto without a second glance. Inside this unassuming shop, though, is one of Rome’s most interesting selections of gelato. Small in number but big on taste, the flavours change with the seasons and feature unusual ingredients such as violet, rose, jasmine and uva fragola – literally translating to ‘strawberry-grape’, this variety of grape has a sweet, summery taste.
Go beyond carbonara and amatriciana and discover the different cuisines brought to Rome by its large immigrant population. There are a number of Ethiopian restaurants in the city but Mesob, tucked away on Via Prenestina, is widely considered the best. Opt for one of the sharing platters that feature slow-cooked meats, braised vegetables, and richly spiced lentils, all served atop traditional injera – use this spongy flatbread to scoop up the flavoursome food.