I guess the better question when talking about rome, or italy in general, is where not to eat. The truth is that I have never had a bad meal anywhere in italy because even at its very worst, italian food is still sublime. But here are a few favorites.
Vicolo Delle delle Bollette 13
+39 66 78 34 95
+39 66 99 40 736
What Al Moro lacks in ambiance, it more than makes up for in everything else. It is old school for sure, and the waiters are there to prove it, but it's a don't miss. We have sent dozens of friends over the years and we have yet to hear anything but the most amazing reviews. Some menu highlights are the cacio e pepe, the carbonara and, when in season, the wild strawberries with cream. Total perfection.
Via Pietro Tacchini, 26 (Parioli)
+39 6 80 78 256
I go here EVERY time I'm in Rome. It's about a 5 or 10 minute taxi ride outside of the center in a residential neighborhood and it's awesome. They give you a big basket of meats on the table when you sit down and the food is great. The grilled scarmoza (cheese) is insane.
Via Giulia, 14
+39 6 88 06 972
Perhaps the freshest fish you will find anywhere, ever. The scene is more fabulous than fish shack (they take some serious pride in their celeb clientele – Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino are regulars) and the service is somewhat questionable, but if you can get past the pomp, your meal will be well worth it.
Piazza Farnese, 50-50/A
+39 6 68 74 927
This old school restaurant on one of the most beautiful piazzas in Campo dei Fiori is as romantic as it is delicious. Their wine bar next door, also offers wines from the family’s own vineyard.
Piazza del Popolo, 1/2
+39 6 36 11 473
The food and the scene go hand in hand here. I have sadly never had a sighting, but I have heard that everyone from DeNiro to Tom Cruise has been here. The food is hearty and pretty old school, so come ready to mange bene!
Piazza Nicosia, 24
+39 6 68 61 013
This place may be little more upscale than my usual spots, but it's still comfortable and also may be one of the best meals ever. Don’t miss out on the polpettine di tonno in the most incredible tomato sauce you have ever tasted.
Ristorante Fortunato Al Pantheon (Da Fortunato)
Via del Pantheon, 55
+39 06 679 2788
I’m always looking for restaurant recommendations near tourist attractions as I have been burned by bad meals one too many times. So I was thrilled when this rec came in for a lunch spot near the Pantheon. It's family run (Fortunato's son, Jason, is now the owner) and everyone in the kitchen is a local Roman, so the food is as authentic as you can get. Definitely a great stop, especially if you need to eat before hitting Giolitti for gelato ...
Via Uffici del Vicario, 40
+39 6 69 91 243
There are a million places to go for Gelato in Italy, but Giolitti is really the best for a million reasons. It’s super old school with table service (waiters in tuxedos) as well as a take away counter, and the gelato honestly can’t be beat. This location close to The Pantheon is the original, but there is a second smaller outpost, Bar Giolitti, in the Testaccio neighborhood as well at Via Amerigo Vespucci 20.
Via di Montecatini 12
+39 66 79 11 60
This place is incredibly cute and very old school and sits at the end of a teeny street. Only go here if you can sit outside because inside, as with so many real authentic restaurants, is lit like an operating room. Not sexy. But the food is great. They have fantastic giant ravioli and a ton of grilled options. And don't miss the pistachio tiramisu for dessert.
Palazzo delle Esposizioni
Scalinata di Via Milano 9A
+39 64 78 22 641
It's way more modern and white than almost anything else in the entire city of Rome, and it's all glass, but somehow the fact that the restaurant is housed in a greenhouse on top of the Palazzo delle Esposizini makes it feel like a place you never want to leave. The food is by Chef Antonio Colonna and is as inventive as the space.
La Pergola at The Cavalieri Hotel
Via Alberto Cadlolo 101
+39 63 50 92 152
This three Michelin-starred restaurant has been recommended to me time and again, mostly for the gorgeous view (I guess the three Michelin starts speak for themselves) as the hotel sits on top of one of the 7 hills of Rome. I'm most interested in the dedicated water menu with 29 varieties. Of water. And of course I'm also interested in the 60,000+ bottle wine cellar.
Via Frattina, 94
+39 (0) 6 920 2132
So as I've said before, I live in fear of having a bad meal when we travel. There are limited chances to eat and I hate the thought that any lunch or dinner might be less than spectacular. So, the last time we were in Rome and planned a day of sightseeing around the Spanish Steps, an area as beautiful as it is known for its myriad of tourist traps, I was desperate to find a good place to eat that wouldn't result in meal remorse. I read about this place and when arrived, in the heart of one of the greatest shopping streets, I almost turned around and left - it didn't quite strike me as a place for a great meal. Super sleek and modern but in an austere way, there was something not so inviting about it. But we went in and let me tell you - it was one of the best meals I have EVER had. They use only regionally and locally sourced products. No joke. If puntarelle is in season, order it (it's a green). They also have a pasta with artichoke and bacon that might be the best thing I've ever had in my life.
NOTE: CLOSED AS OF 10.17
Via Toscana, 36
+39 6 42 74 28 08
The area around the Spanish Steps and the Via Veneto is hardly known for its tranquility, but if you're looking for a respite from the insanity of the neighborhood, try the terrace here. Also try anything off the grill - especially the Fiorentina for two.
Monte dei Cenci, 9
+39 68 80 66 29
I have yet to take a trip to Rome without stopping at this landmark in the Jewish Ghetto. Known for their incredible carciofi all giudia(fried whole artichokes) and super old school setting, it’s a must, especially when touring the Ghetto (see Things to Do).
Via di Ponte Quattro Capi, 16
+39 66 86 16 01
It's not so well known, but it's in an awesome spot right on a bridge over the Tiber and the food is really simple, traditional and delicious. A good bet for a great meal.
Terra di Siena
Piazza di Pasquino, 77/78
+39 6 83 07 704
Wild boar. Wild boar. Wild boar. I swear – I have heard about the wild boar ragu here forever and I have to believe that so many people can’t be wrong. The restaurant is located off the super touristy Piazza Navona on the much quieter and lesser-known Piazza di Pasquino and is family run. I will be trying it for sure on our next trip.
Via del Pellegrino 117
+39 6 88 01 976
This is as authentic as it gets. Run by a husband a wife team (she cooks, he greets), the room is small and like so many European trattorias, lacks the cute ambiance we all long for, but the food is fresh and amazing. A stand out for us were the artichokes and spaghetti pomodoro.
Via Luca Della Robbia, 3/A
39 6 57 57 902
This is in the up and coming Testaccio neighborhood where there is an AWESOME modern art museum (MACRO), and the feel is much more industrial. We happened upon this place after a visit to the museum, and while the name was slightly off-putting, we were attracted to the freshness of the decor - something hard to come by in Rome. We were not disappointed. The food here is simple and fresh, but more inventive than some. Marc said it may have been his favorite meal in Rome on the last trip we took there.
NOTE: CLOSED AS OF 10.17