/My Favorite Roman Trattorias

My Favorite Roman Trattorias

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It is absurd to discuss something as elusive as the “best” trattoria in Rome. Judging food is by nature a subjective endeavor and many locals can’t help but be blinded by an intangible food-enhancing nostalgia. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Rome. We all romanticize food memories and forgive the foibles of our beloved establishments. Of course, trattorias don’t exist to serve flawless meals. Their role is to serve dependable comfort food at moderate prices. They get by on the charm or idiosyncrasies of their owners and on their convivial atmosphere. Regulars willingly overlook the habitually overcooked lamb or the watery cacio e pepe if the owner knows their name.

So does the perfect trattoria exist? Sadly, it does not. Even the “best” places like Cesare al Casaletto and Armando al Pantheon have their strengths and weaknesses. What I present to you is a list of my favorite places, those which serve great food, eschew laurel resting, and which I have judged without the hindrance of nostalgic delusion.

Armando Al Pantheon: The Gargioli family has been serving solid Roman classics since 1961. More here.

Cesare al Casaletto: This neo-trattoria in the Portuense district excels at starters and primi and has a killer wine list.

Settimio Al Pellegrino: Teresa cooks up basic Roman dishes while husband Mario schmoozes and serves good food with bad wine.

Trattoria al Moro: Ok, so this place is more like a ristorante with formal service and crisp linens–not to mention prices 30% higher than the average trattoria–but it was a simple trattoria when it was founded. Today, it serves a vast list of Roman classics, including many dishes that have vanished from most of the city’s menus.

Trattoria Monti: Located in the Esquiline district (not Monti as the name suggests), this family-run trattoria serves hearty and meaty dishes from Le Marche. I always start with a sformantino and never miss out on one of the stellar pastas like the beloved tortello filled with a runny egg.

Trattoria Dal Cavalier Gino: You won’t find a table on short notice at this institution near the Parliament that has been serving simple food to a loyal clientele since 1963.

Epilogue: Can everyone please stop saying nice things about Sora Margherita and Enoteca Corsi? The food is gross and hasn’t been edible in years. Basta! Also, the food at Da Oio A Casa Mia is an abomination.


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2017-02-17T15:16:55+00:00 January 25th, 2013|Categories: Food & Wine, Gastronomic Traditions, Restaurants in Rome, Rome & Lazio, Rome on a Budget|28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. francesco January 25, 2013 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Yessssss!!!!
    I love your Epilogue!

  2. Hande January 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Yes. Yes…. YES!!!

  3. Paolo January 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Nice post but… I actually like Sora Margherita food

  4. Nathalie (@spacedlaw) January 25, 2013 at 4:15 pm - Reply

    Cavalier is an adventure. But a tasty one!

  5. Alec Lobrano January 25, 2013 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Hey Katie, Wonderful memories of that fabulous lunch at Cesare al Casaletto, my new favorite in Rome, thanks to you. xA

  6. Sonny Hammond January 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    I tackle the Roman trattoria probem by first deciding what I feel like eating. Then the trattoria choses itself.
    Carcofi alla Romana – da Michele, Fettucini alla Zenzaro – Trattoria Morgana …

  7. Sarah May (@AntiquaTours) January 25, 2013 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Great epilogue. And so true about the role of the trattoria!!

  8. Sally Watkins, CTC January 25, 2013 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    For Settimio Al Pellegrino, do you mean bad house wine? bad wine list?

    • Katie January 25, 2013 at 11:20 pm - Reply

      awful awful house wine and barely a wine list. regulars bring their own wine, cork it at the end of the meal if there is any left and stash it in the fridge for the next visit.

  9. Myriam February 4, 2013 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great tips. Love your ‘bite’! Discovered your blog via the Guardian while in Rome for the WE. Too bad i didn’t had the time to explore it fully while there. Will do for next time.

  10. Maria March 7, 2013 at 1:06 am - Reply

    love love Tanto pe Magna in Garbatella.. 🙂 love their maltagliati with porcini.. still have to try Armando & Da Teo – only heard good things!

  11. Sao July 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Letizia Mattiacci from madonnadelpiatto.com in Assisi, Umbria recommended your blog after we left their amazing Umbrian hills w phenomenal food and headed for sightseeing in Rome. She took pity on us and knew we would never survive Rome w/o good food, so she shared your blog w us…Mille grazie!

    • Katie July 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      how kind of letizia to recommend my blog! have a great time in rome and let me know how your dining experiences are!

  12. Lorenzo August 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    I strongly disagree with ms. Parla’s views on Enoteca Corsi. The food there is very good and the prices quite reasonable. And it’s much easier to squeeze in than to Armando’s or Gino’s. So, to reiterate: Enoteca Corsi IS GREAT!

  13. Luke September 5, 2013 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Katie, while I love your blog and recommendations, I must respectfully disagree about Trattoria Dal Cavalier Gino. Yes, it’s clearly a local place with a lot of character…but it had *awful* food (in 2012). Cacio e pepe without flavor, mushrooms and peas that were clearly out of a can.

    Have you been there recently? Is it possible that we just got them on a bad day?

    • Katie September 5, 2013 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      off day i imagine! never have had the cacio e pepe so can’t comment on that!

  14. Alan September 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie,

    Your comments and descriptions about food are amazing. I am planning a trip to Rome with my wife and it seems like a daunting task to decide on restaurants. I was interested in seafood one evening and settled on La Gensola. a friend dined at Perilla a few years ago and loved it, although i am having second thoughts based on what I have read about how tourists are treated. I was curious about your thoughts. We are staying in the Villa Borghese neighborhood (at the Sofitel) and I was also wondering if you had any recommendations within, say a twenty minute walk for dinner or a place for special pizza. My wife is a lover of pasta but is not an adventurous eater when it comes to the heavier meat dishes and organ meats. Thanks so much for any thoughts.

    • Katie September 29, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      hey! perilli is not good. pass for sure. i have never had problems with the service but the food is just awful. i have lots of recommendations for pizza and all sorts of food on my app “Katie Parla’s Rome”

  15. Alan September 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm - Reply

    Katie, You are the best. I really appreciate a definitive response. I tried for Cesare al Casaletto but my hotel says they are closed for vacation on October 4th so I will be dining at Da Danilo on October 4 and lunch at Antico Arco on October 6. I can’t go wrong with you at my side. Grazie tante.

  16. Yvette October 14, 2013 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    Hi! We will be traveling to Italy from December 6-21 and staying outside of Rome (about 12 miles) for the first week and just outside of Assisi for the second week. Being this trip is in December (and we are from Florida)…any recommendations on “must do” tours and information?

  17. São B October 15, 2013 at 4:08 pm - Reply

    We stayed in Assisi for 10 days in July of this year and had a magnificent time getting to know the language, people and amazing food! We did day trips around Assisi to neighboring magnificent towns and ate like kings…we also did an amazing cooking lesson at Madonna del Piatto w Letizia incampagna.com She is an amazing person who has extensive knowledge of the region and can provide you w great restaurant recommendations, day trip ideas and much, much more than just pointing you to tourist areas. Have a fabulous journey!

  18. Mario November 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    You should try l’Idillio in Pigneto (via Dulceri). It’s off from the hipster Pigneto…nice place…good wine and amazing fettucine.

  19. Annette December 14, 2013 at 6:03 am - Reply

    Always wanted to try Armando al Pantheon and will after reading this. Thanks.

  20. Karen Laughlin December 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    WOW! So, Perilli is a bust?? what would you recommend for a Sunday Lunch in that area??

    I read with interest these places that are not friendly to tourists. We are not of the fanny pack variety, but definitely won’t fool anyone as to being tourists.

    Please, a NICE Sunday lunch option in the area! We are leaving in three days!!

    Many thanks, love your ‘to the point’ ap!

  21. […] My Favorite Roman Trattorias […]

  22. […] out for places called “trattoria”, which serve local food at reasonable prices. Italians tend to eat dinner quite late, so you may […]

  23. Perilli – ROME BY MOUTH May 4, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    […] Katie Parla (2013) does not include Perilli among her favorite Trattorias in Rome, dishing in the comments section that “Perilli is not good. Pass for sure. I have never had problems with the service but the food is just awful.” […]

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