The city center of Rome is packed with terrible restaurants of varying quality. I’ve got a few favorites (Roscioli, L’Asino D’Oro, Il Pagliaccio), but, in general, I do most of my dining outside the center of town. I have a bike so it’s easy to get around, but visitors to Rome can count on relatively straight forward public trasport to get them to other areas. Pigneto is particularly accessible, just 7 stops (20 minutes) on the 5 or 14 tram from Termini.

Pigneto is a neighborhood east of Porta Maggiore flanked by the Via Prenestina in the north and the Via Casilina in the south. For some unknown reason, articles about this place always call it “up and coming”, which would have been accurate 5 years ago. Pigneto has already come up and many of its restaurants and wine bars are well established. It’s a fun place to hang out, especially in the summer when the isola (a pedestrianized segment of Via del Pigneto) is packed with sidewalk bars and cafes. And while Pigneto won’t win any culinary awards, its establishments offer a perfectly pleasant change of pace. Here’s a round up of some of the places I like:

Mesob: My absolute favorite place to eat in Pigneto. This Ethiopian restaurant is just under a year old and serves impressive vegetarian dishes. The injera is outstanding. You can read the full review here. Mesob is located at Via Prenestina 118.

Birra Piu’: My second favorite spot in Pigneto is this beer shop. Shelves and a couple of fridges display craft beers from Italy, Belgium, America, and the UK. You can take bottles to go or drink in front of the shop from plastic cups. Birra Piu’ is located at Via dei Pigneto 105.

Il Capriccio di Carla: Carla D’Ambrosio serves all-natural artisanal gelato made from meticulously selected ingredients. The pistacchio, almond, and hazelnut are fantastic. Carla also makes a mean tiramisu’. The shop is located at Piazzale Prenestino 30/31.

I Porchettoni: An Ariccia-style fraschetta serving super cheap antipasti, primi and secondi. The atmosphere is fun and animated. Expect some shouting. More here. I Porchettoni is located at Via del Pignetto 68.

Necci dal 1924: Necci’s got it all. It’s a bakery, cafe, restaurant and bar open 7 days a week. It doesn’t serve the best food on the planet but it’s a nice spot for a drink and a snack on the patio. Necci is located at Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68.

Gelateria del Pigneto: Just off the isola, this gelateria was recently recommended to me by a reader. It serves mainly natural flavors–others have synthetic coloring; ask at the counter for specifics. The gelateria is located at Via Pesaro 11.

Of course not everything in Pigneto is great. The most famous restaurant there, Primo al Pigneto, wins my imaginary award for worst service in Rome. It’s one of those see-and-be-seen joints so no one seems to notice how absolutely boring and poorly executed the food is.

So that’s my round-up. There’s plenty I didn’t cover here. What are your favorites?