/Cesare al Casaletto, The Perfect Roman Trattoria

Cesare al Casaletto, The Perfect Roman Trattoria

The idea of the “best trattoria in Rome” is an elusive one. Not only are tastes highly subjective, but even the most reliable establishments in town are plagued by a lack of consistency. Try the cacio e pepe one day, and it is exquisite. Come back the next and it is served in a pool of loose, watery cheese sauce. Or worse, order the “wrong thing” and suffer dire consequences. (Yes, most Roman restaurants are only really good at a fraction of things on the menu.) Consequently, for a place to be the “best” in Rome, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But Cesare al Casaletto comes pretty close.

This long-established trattoria was taken over by Leonardo Vignoli in 2009. With new ownership at the helm, the food and wine list were pulled out of obscurity and Cesare al Casaletto is now lauded by Roman gastronomes for its quality and value (rapporto qualita-prezzo is of supreme importance in this city).

moscardini cesare

It is both of these factors which appeal to me, but particularly the former. Over the past year, it has become my go-to destination when seeking to achieve bella figura. If I need to impress a Roman friend and convince him Americans know good food, I take him to Cesare. If an out of town journalist is in Rome reporting on pasta, I take him to Cesare. If chefs come to Rome in search of that fantasy trattoria they dream of, I book us a table at Cesare.

In all of the above cases, we start with the fritti misti, some of the lightest fried foods you will ever encounter. Crisp cod fillets, anchovies, baby squids and squash blossoms are served in paper cones, while golden gnocchi nuggests are strewn atop a thick cacio e pepe (pecorino and black pepper) sauce.alici cesare

Perhaps the greatest expression of the fried genre is achieved in the form of polpette di bollito (spheres of breaded shredded veal) and poplette di melanzane (eggplant croquettes). Supple and delicate, their thin crusts give way to soft, flavorful interiors.

polpette di bollito cesare

The parade of fried things is inevitably followed by a traditional pasta dish: carbonara, cacio e pepe, gricia, or sugo di coda. Choose your sauce and preferred pasta form and indulge in the carby classics.

But the feast isn’t over yet. Indeed, it gets even better. The secondi are among the best menu items. Again, classics reign: trippa alla romana (tripe with tomato and mint), coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail), abbacchio fritto (fried lambchops), and involtini (meat rolls) are just some of the highlights. Follow these with a seasonal vegetable side dish to aid digestion and move on to dessert. Leaving without panna cotta would be a grave mistake.

As if the food weren’t enough to attract diners to Cesare, there is the sensational wine list where excellent, moderately priced bottles provide the rare occasion to pair complex wines (many of them natural) with thoughtfully prepared food in a completely unpretentious setting.

But the casual nature of Cesare doesn’t mean the service is overworked or inefficient (a frequent flaw of its competitors). On the contrary, the servers are polite, professional, and accommodating. In all, Cesare offers a rare combination of great food, excellent wine and easygoing hospitality. To experience it yourself, take the #8 tram from Largo Argentina to the last stop (€3 per person R/T). The restaurant is 100 yards from the tram stop.

Cesare al Casaletto
Via del Casaletto, 45 – 00151 Roma
Tel. +39 06536015
Closed Wednesdays


  1. Angela Jones November 22, 2012 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Hi Katie,

    I am keen to try this place when i am visiting Rome over new years, but wanted to book so i don’t miss out. I noticed there is no reference to a website or email address. Do you happen to know if they have one, as i googled and couldn’t find one. Or am i best calling and making a reservation?

    And in general, over the new year period, are there many restaurant closures we should be aware of? Or is everything just closed on new years day?

    Many thanks for your help

    • Katie November 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      @angela my app has new year’s suggestions. just check out tours–>katie’s suggestions

    • Bret Sloan April 5, 2016 at 1:13 am - Reply

      Hi Katie…. My wife and I will be in Rome the first week in June 2016. I purchased your app and it will be a great resource. Can you tell me how to reserve a table at Cesare al Canaletto? Or is it best to simply arrive early? Please let me know. Thanks!

      • Katie Parla April 5, 2016 at 4:18 am - Reply

        thanks for your app purchase:) you can try to book though their website or call. you can usually just turn up during the week at lunch (closed wed FYI) but weekends and dinners usually book a few days out. enjoy!

  2. Hounddogman November 22, 2012 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this. Cesare has been on my radar for a while and I will definitely go soon. With an added bonus of two long tram rides. But, given that the 8 starts from Largo Argentina, what enquiring minds want to know is what is Parlafood’s position on the Great Cat Sanctuary Controversy? See: http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/nov/16/roman-cat-fight/ and http://www.romancats.com.

    Difendere i gatti!

    • Katie November 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      I am actually not personally fond of cats and the idea of their urine on republican era ruins always skeeved me out, but unless the city can offer another alternative I think the cat sanctuary is a humane option.

      For reservations to Cesare, just ring the number above during business hours and book in English. I’m sure everyone there can speak at least a little English, enough to take a reservation. Enjoy!!

  3. Gina November 22, 2012 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this post. I love Cesare. It has also become my place to take people to convince them I know good food. Fritti, fritti, fritti and more…can’t wait to go back.

  4. Magali November 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Hi! I really love your blog… It’s just… Amazing! I’m Magalí and I travel around the world, tasting flavours and writing about them. Wou! When I have time, I’m going to write about your blog 😛



    • Katie November 25, 2012 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      grazie maga! your blog is lovely too!

  5. Where to Eat in Rome on New Year’s December 30, 2012 at 5:55 am - Reply

    […] Roman fare, Cesare al Casaletto will be open New Year’s Day at lunch […]

  6. Eating in Rome on a Sunday January 4, 2013 at 12:45 am - Reply

    […] Cesare al Casaletto (Portuense) Via del Casaletto 45 Unbelievable fritti, solid Roman fare, and an excellent wine list make Cesare al Casaletto a favorite Sunday dining destination. […]

  7. […] if the food gurus in Rome think that this place is awesome then it is. Katie says it’s the perfect Roman trattoria and for Elizabeth it’s her new favorite restaurant. You really can’t go […]

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    […] by the involtini at Da Cesare with advice from my butchers at […]

  10. […] time I’ve learned that in Rome there is no moderating guanciale. Tonight at Cesare al Casaletto I encounter the first piece, thick like tree bark, leaned casually against a plump pile […]

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    […] the above as antipasti and only at places that know how to really bake or fry. Here for example, or here. Or now I have the courage, at […]

  12. chris October 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    We really want to go visit Cesare al Casaletto next month but we will be in Rome on a Wednesday, the day it is closed! Can you make a recommendation for another restaurant similar to Cesare Casaletto? Thanks!

  13. […] and it is served in a quiet athmosfere, almost a tavern and similar to an home, then I recommend Da Cesare al Casaletto where carbonara is the real carbonara and where you cannot find the guy who pours the wine and […]

  14. […] one of my two go-to spots for soulful and satisfying food rooted in Roman traditions (the other was Cesare al Casaletto). While I first encountered The Fooders years back at one of their Asian-inspired pop-ups, it is at […]

  15. […] at the end of the number 8 tram route). It’s an old favourite, via Hande and her colleague Katie Parla, and the place where I had one of my most memorable meals ever, last year on Ferragosto – the […]

  16. […] too extraordinary meals at two of the couple’s favorite restaurants (Gatta Mangiona and Da Cesare; we sat next to chef Dan Barber and his children at Cesare, […]

  17. best shown | rachel eats November 26, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

    […] my cheese shaped quarter I also really like cacio e pepe (and the service that accompanies it) at Cesare al Casletto and Armando al […]

  18. […] Roman fare, Cesare al Casaletto will be open for lunch only on December 25th, 26th and January 1st. Near the Vatican, Romeo will be […]

  19. Larry T. January 12, 2015 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Pretty much agree with your review. We’re talking degrees of perfection here for the most part – like “what dish was NOT the best you’ve ever eaten?” There were a couple, but overall this place is tough to top based on our Roman trattoria eating experiences so far!

  20. […] is in season in the spring when the intestines are small and tender) are Armando Al Pantheon, Cesare al Casaletto, and Flavio al […]

  21. […] Cesare al Casaletto: This neo-trattoria at the end of the Tram #8 will serve lunch and dinner on Easter Sunday and lunch on Easter Monday. Call +39 06536015 for bookings. […]

  22. […] and drinks scene are at their best when they use tradition as a foundation: neo-trattorias like Cesare al Casaletto serve clever twists on the classics, while the nascent craft cocktail culture, embodied by The […]

  23. mitchell July 23, 2015 at 3:56 am - Reply

    does one need reservations at Ceare al Casaletto for dinner?, looking for end of september

    • Katie July 25, 2015 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      yes, mitchell, book for sure. the best (only?) way to book is to call during business hours: 1230-15 & 20-23. enjoy it’s the best

  24. […] Cesare al Casaletto Via del Casaletto 45 (Casaletto) Open: Thursday-Tuesday 12:30-3:00pm & 7:30-11:00pm […]

  25. yvonne August 12, 2015 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    I also wanted to try this eatery in Rome but can’t find a website or reference to it on google.
    Could someone supply the website so that I may make a reservation before I head there.


  26. Lisa November 26, 2016 at 5:22 am - Reply

    The phone number is incorrect -or am I doing something wrong? I have tried several times and it doesn’t ring through to the restaurant.

  27. Al Bassano December 7, 2016 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie, I was wondering whether Cesare is holding up since your published this review. I also would like to know whether you’re familiar with Fraschetta di Castel Sant’Angelo, a personal favorite.
    Best regards, Al Bassano (a fellow New Jerseyan)

    • Katie Parla December 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Jersey Al! Cesare hasn’t changed a bit. still top notch. haven’t been to the fraschetta. I generally go to i porchettoni for my fraschetta fix. ciao!

  28. […] Cesare al Casaletto: This neo-trattoria at the end of the Tram #8 will serve lunch and dinner on Easter Sunday and Monday. There may be outdoor seating area, weather permitting. Call +3906536015 for bookings. […]

  29. […] Katie Parla (2012) calls Cesare “the perfect Roman trattoria” in the post that launched a thousand ships, sending travelers to an unknown neighborhood in search of fried starters, cacio e pepe and and classic Roman secondi like trippa and abbacchio fritto. “If an out of town journalist is in Rome reporting on pasta, I take him to Cesare. If chefs come to Rome in search of that fantasy trattoria they dream of, I book us a table at Cesare.” […]

  30. Morgane C October 21, 2018 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Going there tomorrow night, I hope quality and taste still the same even after a year..
    Thanks for all the good advices to eat, it is really not easy for tourists that like to find good places to go 8n Rome! 🙂

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