UPDATED FOR 2023: I get a lot of emails from readers terrified that they won’t have anywhere to eat in Rome on a Sunday. It’s true that many places are closed, but some of my favorite spots are open for lunch and dinner. You’ll often run into me at Cesare for lunch or Tavernaccia for dinner, but only when I have remembered to make a reservation well in advance. Sunday tables are scarce so be sure you make your plans a week or two in advance (at least), especially because 2023 is shaping up to be the busiest tourist year on record AND IT’S ONLY JANUARY. Wherever you end up, start the day with a coffee and a pastry at Roscioli Caffè or Pasticceria Regoli.
Open for Lunch & Dinner
Vicolo della Scala 1 (Trastevere)
Let’s kick it off with this super cute wine bar in Trastevere since they just started opening for lunch today! This is one of my favorite spots for cheeses and cured meats, salads, and light pasta dishes. The Sardinian owner Antonio Cossu is really devoted to showcasing his native region and you’ll find all sorts of dishes on the menu featuring ingredients you won’t find anywhere else in Rome. The wine list is insane and I would wager that once you start pouring vino you won’t want to leave. There are cocktails, too.
Cesare al Casaletto
Via del Casaletto 45 (Portuense)
Unbelievable fritti, solid Roman fare, and an excellent wine list make Cesare al Casaletto a favorite Sunday dining destination. If you go at lunch you can take a very long walk from Centro to Cesare through the Villa Pamphilj (Rome’s largest public park) before or after your meal. In summers you can walk to the trattoria through the park.
Tavernaccia da Bruno
Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese 63 (Trastevere)
Opened in southern Trastevere in 1968 by Bruno Persiani, an Umbrian transplant to the Italian capital, this homey trattoria serves a mix of dishes from Umbria and Rome. Tavernaccia is now run by Persiani’s daughters and a Sardinian son-in-law who throws in a few of his own regional specialties like suckling pig cooked in the wood-burning oven. The fresh pastas are excellent (especially Sunday’s lasagna, which sells out quickly) and the wood oven-roasted brisket and suckling pig are otherworldly. Organic and natural wines from Italy and Slovenia round out the wine list.
Via dei Reti 44 (San Lorenzo)
In San Lorenzo, a district near La Sapienza University, this family-run trattoria serves carnivorous Roman fare and seafood dishes influenced by Puglia’s coastal cuisine. The sparsely decorated dining rooms welcome workers and families hungry for seafood pasta, pureed fava beans paired with simmered dandelion greens, and a respectable wine list.
Emma Pizzeria con Cucina
Via Monte Della Farina 29 (Centro Storico)
Emma’s fried starters like supplì (rice croquettes), fiori di zucca (fried squash blossoms filled with ricotta and anchovy), and mixed fried vegetables are consistently good and should be followed up with thin-crusted, Roman-style personal pizzas. Many of the pizza toppings are sourced from nearby Salumeria Roscioli, as are the cheese and cured meat plates. Pies range from the basic margherita to the luxurious jamón ibérico. I will also say that this is the place that I get the most negative feedback from readers about. I enjoy the pizza and fritti there but I have been going since the day they opened and they know me so it’s different. Be warned.
Piazza Tarquinia, 4a/b (Appio-Latino)
Chef Sarah Cicolini earned her reputation in fine dining kitchens, but her forte is expertly executed trattoria fare that channels the soulful simplicity of Rome’s peasant classics — a refreshing change in a city where young chefs frequently try and fail to modernize the local cuisine. Diners visit Cicolini’s ochre-hued dining room in the residential Appio-Latino quarter for soulfully rendered Roman classics. Online bookings essential.
Via del Portico d’Ottavia 1e (Ghetto)
A kosher restaurant on the main street in Rome’s Jewish quarter, serving carciofi alla giudia (deep-fried artichokes) and verdure in pastella (assorted battered vegetables), as well as humble fish offerings like tortino di alici (baked anchovies).
Via del Portico d’Ottavia 16 (Ghetto)
This “Kosher style” restaurant in the Ghetto serves some of the best Jewish Roman cuisine in town (though, to be frank, the competition isn’t that fierce). Stick to the classics (fried artichokes, fried vegetables, fried cod filets, fried zucchini flowers, anchovies with endive, and tagliolini with chicory and bottarga. This is another one where I consistently get negative feedback when guests veer off the menu items I suggest.
Via Cipro 106 (Cipro)
A trattoria just north of the Vatican (and a few minute’s walk from Pizzarium!) serving Roman classics like polpette di bollito (fried meatballs made from braised beef) and fun twists on tradition— the fettuccine al tortellino features handmade pasta strands drenched in a creamy sauce enriched with prosciutto, mortadella, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Vicolo del Bologna 19 (Trastevere)
This natural wine bar with small plates often hosts pop ups with young chefs of international renown.
Piazzale Aurelio 7 (Gianicolo)
Situated on the Janiculum Hill near Porta San Pancrazio, Antico Arco serves carefully prepared dishes that blend creativity with southern Italian ingredients.
C’è pasta e pasta
Via Ettore Rolli 29 (Trastevere)
Located a short distance from Stazione Trastevere (and at the edge of the Porta Portese flea market), C’è Pasta…e Pasta (translation: “there’s pasta…and pasta”) serves delicious kosher meals to eat in or take away. Order at the counter and don’t miss Roman Jewish classics like filetti di baccalà (battered fried cod), aliciotti con l’indivia, and concia (marinated zucchini).
Via degli Specchi 6 (Centro Storico)
This pub is perfect for a quick plate of potato croquettes and a craft beer flight. They serve burgers and lots of other food, too, but it’s not that great.
Janta Fast Food
Via Mamiani 11 (Esquilino)
This Indian cafeteria and takeaway spot (formerly Kabir Fast Food) has been serving tasty curries, stews, and many vegetarian/vegan/gluten free dishes in a spartan dining room just off Piazza Vittorio since 1996. Start with fried vegetable samosas or pakoras and finish with one of the tooth-achingly sweet desserts, such as ras gulla or gulab jamun
Viale dell’Acquedotto Alessandrino 172 (Torpignattara)
The menu, which is written on folding chalkboards, circulates through the osteria’s dining room listing dishes rooted in Roman peasant cooking like horse skirt steak and stewed tripe. Osteria Bonelli is located in eastern Rome and well beyond the third century Aurelian walls. To get there, hop on the Giardinetti-bound commuter train from Termini or Porta Maggiore and get off at the Berardi stop.
Via delle Muratte 23 (Trevi)
Open from noon to midnight daily and disturbingly close to the Trevi Fountain, Baccano might seem like a potential tourist hell. But thanks to the arrival of chef Nabil Hassen Haji, an 18-year veteran of Salumeria Roscioli, this is my go-to spot for eating a rich classic pasta at the bar, preceded by some cheeses and cured meats, especially during odd hours. The service is chaos.
Il Piccolo Buco
Via delle Muratte 23 (Trevi)
Open from noon to 11:00pm on Sundays and also VERY close to the Trevi Fountain, Il Piccolo Buco could serve dog food and still be packed daily. Instead, they serve excellent pizze, focacce, and bruschette, as well as assorted Roman classics. Plus they are super nice people.
Via dell’Arco di Travertino 27 (Tuscolano)
This kebab shop and takeaway joint is worth a trip on the Metro A (get off at Arco di Travertino) for quick and delicious Syrian food. Order assorted kibbeh (bulgur and spiced meat croquettes) and brik (savory phyllo pastry) to start, followed by lamb or chicken kebabs sliced from vertical spits and wrapped in house-made lavash flatbread.
Via Giovanni Branca 88 (Testaccio)
Excellent suppli’ and trapizzini (triangles of fluffy pizza bianca filled with sauces that recall the cucina romana–tripe, tongue, oxtail, meatballs, or salt cod) make Trapizzino a great spot for a no-frills snack or meal. No reservations or table service. Other locations include Ponte Milvio, Mercato Centrale, and inside Be.Re. in Prati (see below).
Piazza Risorgimento 7A (Prati)
Open non-stop from 11am until 2am, this craft beer pub near the Vatican walls serves trapizzini (see above) and an excellent array of artisanal beers. My favorite trapizzino filling is pollo alla cacciatora, a hearty, vinegar-spiked chicken stew.
Via Meloria 43 (Cipro)
Gabriele Bonci’s famed pizza by the slice joint serves some of the best pizza in town. Toppings change throughout the day and are made from top-notch products. Pizzarium also sells excellent bread and suppli’ (fried rice balls with various fillings). It is a mistake not to start with one. No reservations and no table service. Closes at 10:00pm but last pies come out of the oven around 8:00pm.
Open at Lunch Only
Via degli Avignonesi 22 (Barberini)
This rather small family run restaurant serves some of the best fresh pasta in Rome. Bolognese specialties such tagliatelle alla bolognese tortelli di zucca, and lasagna al forno.
Via Monte de’ Cenci 9 (Ghetto)
This institution serves Roman Jewish cuisine and lots of offal, as well as land and sea inspired pasta dishes. Piperno is unfortunately past its prime and a bit overpriced, but it’s hard to beat the fritti (fried starters) and the outdoor seating in the summer is lovely.
Via San Vito 13 (Esquilino)
The Camerucci family, originally from Le Marche, serves food from their native region in this long established trattoria. Their starters (especially the sformatini) and pasta courses are their strong suits. Book well in advance.
Open at Dinner Only
Via Ostiense 56 (Ostiense)
Pizzeria Ostiense is the quintessential Roman pizzeria: bright lights, jocular service, and super thin pizzas with a slightly chewy, barely raised rim. It’s a neighborhood joint and most clients eat here for the convenience, atmosphere, and value, while I cross the river regularly to visit Pizzeria Ostiense, which I think is one of the best spots in town for thin-crusted Roman-style pies. Two of its owners previously worked at Da Remo in Testaccio, a beloved venue serving the classic local pizza style, so in spite of only being two years old, Ostiense has the street cred of a Roman institution.
La Gatta Mangiona
Via F. Ozanam 30/32 (Monteverde)
This pizzeria and trattoria in Monteverde serves excellent fried starters and pizzas. The beer list is extensive and there is an impressive selection of wine, whiskey and grappa. NB: It’s packed on Sundays and the pizza isn’t at its best.
Via Valle Corteno 31 (Nomentano)
Amazing fried starters, a great beer and wine list, and outstanding pizza. The definitive carb-driven Sunday dinner.
Via Siria 1 (Appio-Latino)
This pizzeria-ristorante near San Giovanni serves thick-rimmed pizzas baked in a domed, wood-burning Valoriani oven alongside 15 draft beers. In addition to pizza and beer, Sbanco also serves meat dishes and creatively flavored supplì.
As always, here are a few places I dislike intensely, find overrated, and would discourage visiting for Sunday lunch, or any other meal for that matter: Pierluigi and especially Da Giggetto.