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The Best Restaurants in Rome

Where this average traveler actually ate, and how I felt about them!

a plate of pasta and a glass of red wine in Rome

When I first rolled into Rome, late in the evening, and asked my cab driver from the airport what he recommended a first-timer do in Rome, the first six or seven things he recommended were food. 


Italian food is one of the most iconic cuisines in the world, and for very good reason! Eating in Italy is an art form. (My full guide for how to excel at it is right here.) But with all this amazing food to try and a different restaurant every few feet, how on earth do you choose which ones to try?


My truest advice would be to not get too caught up in the top ten lists you find, describing the supposed best restaurants in Rome. I’m sure they’ll be delicious. But you know what else is delicious? The food at the next cafe over that doesn’t have a two-hour wait for a table!


Here’s all the places that I actually ate while in Rome, and what I thought about each of them.


Quick Bites

a sandwich from Mordi e Vai in Rome

Antico Forno Roscioli 

This place has two locations, a sit-down restaurant and a counter-serve deli-style spot a few blocks away. Both are located near most of the sights of central Rome! The superstar is the counter-serve place. You can get pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio) or any number of amazing breads, pastries, and delicacies packed up to go. And most of them only cost a few euros! You will need to take your food to go. There’s a little seating area outside, but it fills fast. If you go over lunch, there will likely be a line out the door, but don’t let that deter you! It’ll move quickly, and the fresh handmade focaccia and pizza slices are worth it!


Mordi e Vai

One of the most iconic sandwich shops in Rome, Mordi e Vai is located in Testaccio Market. It’s a little off Rome’s beaten path, but the whole market is well worth the visit. Mordi e Vai is near the back of the market, and is the perfect place to stop off for a fresh sandwich and a cold drink. Plus, the combo will probably cost you less than 10 euro! They have tons of classic Roman specialties, including Tripa alla Romana (tripe and vegetables in tomato sauce!) if you’re feeling brave!



Aperitivo


La Scaletta

Aperitivo is Italy’s best gift to the world. A pre-dinner drink with some accompanying nibbles? Sign me UP! My first aperativo in Rome was at La Scaletta in Trastevere. I ordered an aperol spritz (the classic aperitivo drink, though most places offer a variety of beverages to choose from) and it came with a beautiful plate of charcuterie and tomatoes included in the price

aperitivo in Trastevere

Nanarella

Nanarella is a member of a group of restaurants that absolutely rules Trastevere. These are among the places that you’ll see lines all the way out the door as people wait hours for their tables to open up. If you want to try this restaurant group, I recommend dropping by for aperativo. I visited at about 5pm on a weekday and was able to walk right onto the patio. I had an aperol spritz and a plate of bruschetta. At this place, the spritz did not come with any accompanying food. I had to play for the bruschette separately. But it was delicious, and if you want to try this swanky Roman chain, this is the way to do it.


Mimi e Coco Trast

The best aperitivo I had in Rome was hands down the aperitivo at Mimi e Coco Trast. Also in Trastevere (that’s where my hotel was, so it’s where I ate the most!), this place had a bustling patio, chatty wait staff, and the best nibbles plate I saw all week. Yes. This little tray of goodies in this photo was free with my drink. Mind blowing and absolutely delicious.


a cone of gelato in front of a Rome street

Gelato and Treats


Fatamorgana

I tried a few gelato places in Rome, but the one worth mentioning to y’all is Fatamorgana. This is a local gelato chain, and they do gelato RIGHT. Classic techniques, creative flavors (I had cardamom as one of my scoops!), and they’re served “con latte” with a dollop of cream!  


Babbingtons Tea House

I visited this place on a recommendation from a friend, and I’m so glad I did! This place is probably the most “touristy” of the places I visited in Rome, and it’s really not even classically Roman! It’s an English-style teahouse right at the base of the Spanish Steps. Their menu is full of amazing tea blends, and high tea classics like pastries and sandwiches. Was my tea and berry tart the same price as the pasta I had for lunch later that same day? Yeah. Was it worth it? Also yeah.


a pizza and a beer in Rome

Luxurious Meals


Babylon Cafe

This was where I had my first meal in Rome. An iconic sidewalk cafe in Trastevere, Babylon Cafe is the perfect place for a late night pizza and a beer when you’re fresh off the plane and still a little jet lagged. Their menu of Pinse (flatbread pizzas with a thick, focaccia like crust), is packed with delicious options. Pair a mushroom pinsa with a Peroni Nastro Azzuro (the local crisp beer my cab driver recommended to me by name that first night) and you’ll be in Roman heaven.


Borgosteria

If you approach Vatican City from the east, you’ll find yourself walking though a pedestrian-only street lined with beautiful restaurants. I was on a tight schedule on this day (a transit strike upset my itinerary and made my travel between sites take twice as long!) so I grabbed a table at one of the first places I saw with open spaces. That place was Borgosteria. Their beautiful umbrella-covered tables were the perfect place to sample Amatriciana (a classic Roman pasta dish) and a glass of house red. No complaints.

a plate of cacio e pepe and a glass of red wine

Taverna 51

Another Trastevere hotspot, this beautiful restaurant was where I went for a classic pizza margherita. This specialty originated in Naples, but Rome's version isn’t too shabby at it if I do say so myself. Paired, once again, with a glass of house wine, I sat at a small table just inside this restaurant all night sipping my drink and savoring my iconic and delicious pizza, and you absolutely should too.


Antica Osteria Ponte Sisto

The most luxurious meal I had in Rome came from Antica Osteria Ponte Sisto. This place is located near -you guessed it- the Ponte Sisto bridge over the Tiber. Their gorgeous patio is the perfect place to sit and watch night fall over Rome. This is where I tried cacio e pepe, another essential pasta, with a glass of house red and tiramisu for dessert. (I had a lot of tiramisu in Italy. I had to see if it was possible to get sick of it. You know. For science.) It was easily one of the best meals I ate in Rome. 


I recommend making a reservation here, as the place gets very crowded from about 8pm on!



These are Some of the Best Restaurants in Rome!


I hope you enjoy your culinary adventures in the eternal city!


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Love and Shenanigans,


Andi


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