Updated January 1, 2023: If you are planning a visit to Rome, please keep in mind how fragile the restaurant business is right now. If you make a booking, don’t show up late or no-show. Cancel well in advance if you know you can’t make it. Order multiple dishes to make your taking up a place in a time of limited capacity worthwhile to the establishment (you don’t have to do the whole 5-course feast but ordering just a pasta isn’t really the move right now, or ever tbh. Ordering 2 courses is the minimum, really, and it could be a pasta and a vegetable side dish or an antipasto and a main.). Although I am generally an advocate of tipping like a local (a few symbolic euros on a trattoria check used to do it), consider leaving a bit more if you can.
Editorial note: I independently vet all recommendations for dining, drinking, and shopping for food and booze in Rome. I fund all my meals with my own money (or that of the publication that has commissioned me to write about a place). I do not accept comps, freebies, press invites, attend junkets, or take any other such form of exchange. I cannot stress enough how rare this is in this town. If you have feedback, leave a comment below. This list evolves every year thanks to your input!
With a nickname like Caput Mundi—Capital of the World—it’s only natural that Romans are accustomed to seeing their home as unrivaled in matters of history, culture, and food. And while it’s true that traditional local cuisine holds a sacred place at the table, Rome is hardly impervious to change. The city’s classics, from carbonara to cacio e pepe, are still universally beloved, but Rome’s dining and drinking culture, like that of all cities, is in a constant state of evolution (albeit at a glacial pace compared to New York, Paris, or London). Recently, tightening purse strings, transitioning food systems, and changing palates have conspired to create exciting new ways of dining, drinking, and shopping for food. There have also been a shocking number of new openings in the past year, especially bars and bistrots that don’t quite hit the mark. But this is no time to single out the many disappointing places I have tried recently. Let’s focus on what’s great about eating and drinking in Rome right now!
I’m happy to report that institutions like Armando al Pantheon just keep getting better and it’s exciting to see younger generations taking over for the parents and grandparents. Meanwhile, the innovative features of Rome’s flourishing food and drinks scene are at their best when they use tradition as a foundation: neo-trattorias like Santo Palato, Romanè, and Trecca serve honest classics with a few clever twists, while the booming independent enoteca scene, embodied by wine bars like Latteria and L’Antidoto, both in Trastevere, embrace natural and traditional wines. Craft beer pubs like Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fà, Open Baladin, Be.Re., and Artisan promote small producers over conventional choices. Places like Sorso, Latta, Fischio, and Circoletto give equal weight to craft beer and natural wines—Latta also does great cocktails. Meanwhile, a revived interest in food provenance has given rise to a growing number of farmers’ markets and shops touting small producers, which, contrary to popular belief, are relative newcomers to the city’s gastronomic landscape (hire me for a tour and we will talk all about the city’s food systems). If you’re looking for fresh, seasonal produce directly from farms, visit the stalls in the south side of the Mercato Trionfale near the fish mongers. There, and elsewhere in town, the light and dark green banners hanging in stalls announcing “ALBO PRODUTTORI AGRICOLI IN VENDITA DIRETTA” signal that you’re at a stall run by a farm (the others mainly sell produce sourced from wholesale markets).
Visitors to the Italian capital will be endlessly satisfied, whether they are after traditional foods or fresh flavors–but only if they know exactly where to look! I have so many resources dispersed over so many platforms. Take a spin on my clips page to find guides and articles for NYT, Bon App, Punch, and more. My Eater 38 Guide to Rome is updated quarterly and features only 38 places that I recommend, so consider the paragraphs that follow a fuller set of my endorsements (known to those on the ‘gram as #parlapicks). And after that long-winded intro, let’s dive into it.
If you are after traditional cucina romana, Armando al Pantheon and Cesare al Casaletto are so good, but book well in advance if you want to score a table. Armando has online bookings that go live a month out, while to book at Cesare, call during service hours. I also love Piatto Romano in Testaccio, which is especially good for vegetables, though they serve offal, too, so it is perfect when you’re craving fibre but also want pajata. For affordable, abundant comfort food, I visit the raucous Osteria Bonelli in Torpignattara. And for super honest, affordable, delicious Roman/Umbrian specialties, plus pizza, served with a smile, Tavernaccia Da Bruno is it. They are the nicest people. I also love Al Moro near the Trevi Fountain for that super old school vibe with comically aloof service. If you don’t mind obscenely precious pricing and being mistreated, you will enjoy it, too.
Roscioli and Santo Palato may not serve explicitly traditional classics, instead blending modern techniques and regional influences with local flavors, but both are excellent and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better carbonara than that at Roscioli or more exciting twists on offal than chef Sarah Ciccolini serves at Santo Palato–her carbonara is pretty spectacular, as well. I have a handy guide for getting the most out of your visit to Roscioli, which has its idiosyncrasies. Relative newcomers Romanè and Trecca are also worth a visit, especially for very seriously heavy classics.
A Rota, Da Remo, Ai Marmi, and Pizzeria Ostiense serve the classic thin crust Roman style. If you don’t mind queuing, visit pizza in teglia (sheet pan pizza, served by the slice) institution Pizzarium. Nearby, Panificio Bonci from the same baker also serves insanely good pizza, as does Lievito Pizza Pane in EUR and AmaRAnto near Villa Ada. The pizza bianca at Antico Forno Roscioli and pizza rossa at Forno Campo de’ Fiori are delicious, as are the various flavored slices at the latter (Roscioli’s other pizzas are too heavy, IMO). The pizza bianca and mortadella sandwich at Forno Campo de’ Fiori is amazing and one of my favorite bites in centro but Bonci’s version (served at Pizzarium sometimes and Panificio Bonci frequently) is my death row meal. For tasty little pizzette, visit Artenio in the Mercato di Testaccio. While you’re at the market, pop over to Casa Manco for the sesame slice.
For thick-rimmed pizza, check out La Gatta Mangiona. Neapolitan import I Quintili (multiple locations, including in Furio Camillo) is fun and does delicious fritti while Masardona serves classic Neapolitan pizza fritta filled with ricotta, cured pork, provolone, tomato, black pepper, and basil. Seu Pizza Illuminati at the edge of Trastevere serves avant-garde pizzas in an open and airy contemporary space on the ground floor of a residential block. In spite of its location suspiciously close the Trevi Fountain, the thick-rimmed pizza at Piccolo Buco is really freaking good.
Also, be sure to check out my recent articles “The 20 Best Pizzerias in Rome” for Eater and “The Best Pizza in Rome” for Conde Nast Traveller. Rome’s pizza scene is has never been more popping, a silver lining of the pandemic, during which many pizzerias thrived.
You may wish to give fine dining a pass altogether. So much of it is so disappointing, derivative, and precious. Sadly, Metamorfosi in Parioli, which was legit fun and creative, has closed. Zia in Trastevere, which has 1 Michelin star, has super formal service if that’s what you need and the kitchen does nice modern fare. Newcomer Pulejo, which opened in Prati in 2022 and also has 1 star, is pretty good.
The finest fish in town is at Tempio di Iside. I love their raw dishes, fried dishes, and seafood pasta. Tempio isn’t exactly fine dining, but it certainly is upscale and the business cards are shaped like bow ties, so…
For kosher meals, try C’è Pasta…e Pasta, which serves Roman Jewish classics cafeteria-style and their sister restaurant C’è Pasta…e Pizza in Monteverde Vecchio does pasta and pizza with table service. In the Ghetto, Boccione Il Forno del Ghetto does amazing fruitcake called pizza ebraica or pizza de berride (bris cake, basically), as well as delicious cinnamon and almond biscotti and ricotta cakes. Nearby, Casalino is probably the best kosher restaurant on the block, while Nonna Betta serves kosher-style food that tends to be a bit inconsistent. Stick to the the pezzetti fritti, concia (fried and marinated zucchini), carciofi alla giudia (in season in the winter), and spaghetti con bottarga e cicoria.
Go to Mordi e Vai in the Mercato di Testaccio for brisket and chicory, artichoke and pecorino, or kidney and onionsandwiches. The trapizzini at the growing number of Trapizzino shops are a must (especially the chicken cacciatore)! The supplì, potato croquettes, and fried pastry cream at Supplizio are super tasty. Supplì, the institution in Trastevere, serves very good supplì and extremely not good pizza.
There are handful of stalls in the Mercato Trionfale serving porchetta—poke around and see which one looks like it’s been roasted that day. In the cold months, Panificio Bonci often serves porchetta between slices of pizza bianca and it’s truly insane.
Legs in Centocelle and Legs Go in Ostiense, brought to you by the guys behind Artisan and the duo behind Mazzo (currently on hiatus), serves the city’s best fried chicken sandwiches.
Gelato & Pastries
For gelato, my favorites are Stefano Ferrara Gelato Lab (it’s a short but terrifying walk at night from Cesare if you happen to be in the neighborhood), Al Settimo Gelo, Otaleg, Gori, Gelateria dei Gracchi, Il Gelato di Claudio Torce’, Neve di Latte (a new branch opened in Via dei Banchi Vecchi in 2022), Fatamorgana, and Fior di Luna.
Century-old Regoli, newer Roscioli Caffè, and decade-old Panificio Bonci offer excellent traditional Roman pastries. Casa Manfredi near the Circus Maximus is my favorite spot for cornetti, pastries, and cakes.
During the holiday season, don’t miss the chance to fill your luggage with panettoni from Panificio Bonci and Santi Sebastiano e Valentino.
There’s coffee everywhere, but some places truly are a cut above. My favorite historic shop is Prati’s Sciascia, established in 1919. For third wave coffee visit Pergamino near the Vatican Museums and Faro near Piazza Fiume.
Wine, Beer, and Cocktails
Thristy? My favorite places to drink wine are La Mescita (I know I said this already, but don’t eat food there; they opened a second location in the old Litro space in Monteverde Vecchio in late 2022), Latteria, Mostò, Bulzoni, Il Goccetto, L’Angolo Divino, Vigneto, Enoteca Il Piccolo, L’Antidoto, Sorso, Latta, Fischio, and Circoletto (the latter four also do beer).
You can buy bottles of wine to take away at the wine bars listed above, as well as at retail shops Solovino near the Vatican (and Pizzarium, La Tradizione and Fischio!) and Les Vignerons in Trastevere.
Latteria and Latta mentioned above also do cocktails and both are my go-tos for aperitivo.
Salumi, Formaggi, Produce, and Pantry Items
If you love cheeses and cured meats, visit Formaggeria in the Piazza Epiro Market, Salumeria Roscioli, Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi (the location in the Ghetto also serves wine and other food; skip the cured meats at Beppe and stick to the cheeses), and Forme (a 2022 opening by a Salumeria Roscioli alum). I buy cheeses (especially chunks of savory Pecorino Romano), salted anchovies, olive oil, and dried pasta from La Tradizione. They will vacuum seal things for air travel. You’re not allowed to bring any meat products into the U.S. and I’ve been caught so many times I can tell you it’s really not worth having something you really want to eat be confiscated, but DO YOU! Bottega Liberati is the city’s greatest butcher.
There are more than 60 municipal markets in Rome, so no matter where you’re staying, you’re likely within walking distance of one. My favorites are Mercato Trionfale just north of the Vatican Museums’ main entrance. It is perfect and, although I live between two markets in Monteverde Vecchio, I regularly make the downhill trip to Trionfale because it has plenty of famers’ stalls, great butchers, wonderful fishmongers, and some ace alimentari selling cheeses and cured meats. The Mercato Trionfale is always my first stop on my Prati & Trionfale Food Tour (my fave!). The Mercato di Testaccio is great, as well (I do tours there, too), and offers plenty of in-market dining. My faves are Mordi e Vai for sandwiches, Artenio for pizzette and baked goods, Casa Manco for pizza by the slice, Sartor for meat, and Da Corrado for wine and cheese. I only really go to Campo dei Fiori to speak about its decline so even though it’s central, it’s the absolute worst place to see the local food system in action. I recommend making the trip elsewhere if you want to support a great market. From an architectural standpoint, the markets in Piazza dell’Unità and Piazza Alessandria are stunning. For international produce, halal meat, and a wonderful array of ingredients from South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Eastern Europe, visit the Mercato Esquilinio near Stazione Termini.
Regional Italian Cuisines
In the regional Italian category, Trattoria Monti is wonderful for specialties from Le Marche. Tram Tram is great for fish and vegetable classics from Puglia (there’s plenty of Roman stuff, too). Colline Emiliane does amazing food from around Bologna like tortellini in brodo and tagliatelle al ragù and Tavernaccia da Bruno always features Umbrian dishes from the owners’ father’s homeland. There are influences from Abruzzo at La Torricella in Testaccio (though buyer beware: they have been known to play tricks with the bill if you’re not a regular, so be sure to review your conto carefully). Pastorie is 100% abruzzese and 1000% delicious. The baked and fried pizzas at Masardona will have you thinking you teleported to Naples. And now for words I never thought I would write: the restaurant at the W Hotel in Rome is actually great. Sicily-inspired Giano from acclaimed chef Ciccio Sultano does a very good lunch and can have you in and out in under an hour. Meanwhile, they serve a more elaborate menu at dinner that will have you wanting to linger all night.
It’s impossible to get a full understanding of Rome if you stick just to carbonara and cacio e pepe. The city vibrant immigrant communities and their cuisines are more than worth a detour from the Roman canon and it is not an exaggeration to say that the soulful dishes of Himalaya Palace near Villa Pamphilj got me through lockdown. There is incredible Ethiopian and Eritrean food at Enqutatash on the Via Prenestina. Sinosteria in Viale Marconi does ace Chinese regional cuisine and has a very good wine list. Visit Janta Fast Food for cafeteria-style northern Indian dishes and Kiko for sushi. Dumpling Bar serves…dumplings! Neighborhood Restaurant serves excellent Filipino food in Prati with a focus on Kapampangan dishes. Korean restaurant I-gio in Trastevere is delightful and opens at 6PM for early dining, while Gainn near the Termini station does satisfying classics. Roy Caceres’ Carnal does good tacos and arepas in Prati and El Maíz nearby does nice arepas and empanadas with lots of gluten free options. In the spice desert that is Rome, Tuk Tuk does Thai dishes that will scratch an itch but they shy away from heat for their Roman audience.
I get a lot of emails and DMs asking where to buy tools for fresh pasta. The answer is Antica Aguzzeria del Cavallo in Bologna. Rome doesn’t have much of a fresh pasta culture. But for all sorts of pizza equipment and other Italian kitchen utensils, hit up Kitchen and Peroni.
Day Trips from Roma
Honestly, it’s a lot, but you could pop down to Naples for some pastry, coffee, and a pizza at Pizzeria Da Attilio and be back in Rome in 6 hours. Roma-Napoli is 1 hour 10 minutes on the high speed train, so highly doable. If you prefer company, I could take you down there on a tour!
Another favorite destination for the day is Tivoli. It takes a bit of finessing to get to Villa Adriana and Villa D’Este on public transport, but Villa D’Este is easily accessible from the train station and close to La Sibilla for lunch. A bit further afield, Iotto in Campagnao di Roma and Sora Maria and Archangelo in Olevano Romano do really delicious Roman and Laziale things.
A super fun day trip is an excursion to the Tuscia for some food and archeology with my incredible guide Maria Vicari. Another is a vineyard visit with Maurizio Di Franco. Contact us for details!
Roberta Pezzella, one of the greatest bakers on the planet, opened a bakery called PezZ de Pane in Frosinone in 2021. This city in southern Lazio is often overlooked (honestly, most of the region is and it’s awesome so that’s a shame) but it’s so worth a trip to visit Roberta and her bakery. The breads and pastries area incredible and unless she is deep into panettone or colomba season, she makes pizza alla pala, too. It’s a 30-minute fast train ride to Frosinone from Rome, then book a taxi with Annaslisa to pick you up at the train station and take you to the bakery in the città alta (+393336839628).
Finally, I wrote about a 4-day road trip from Rome to Naples for Conde Nast Traveler, which you can read here.
You Tube Series & Television Programs
Back in the day I teamed up with my super talented friend Kat Tan Conte to create YouTube videos documenting neighborhoods and Roman food themes. You can find the videos over on my You Tube channel. Or check out my Emmy-nominated TV series “Katie Parla’s Rome” (2020) and “Katie Parla’s Roman Kitchen” (2021-2022).
Join me or one of my guides for a tour, wine tasting, cocktail seminar, cooking class, or virtual class! We focus on food culture, history, archeology and cooking. Reach out for deets!
Guides for Various Publications
Where to Eat and Drink in San Lorenzo (Bon Appetit)
The New Wave of Roman Pizza (Eater)
Best Pizza in Rome (Condé Nast Traveler)
Rome’s Disappearing Dishes (Saveur)
Rome City Guide (The Infatuation)
5 Under the Radar Spots (Vogue)
Travel Guide: Rome (Saveur)
The Pinnacle of Pasta: The Top 9 Plates of Pasta in Rome (Bon Appetit)
Katie Parla’s Guide to Rome (Imbibe)
City Guide: Rome (PUNCH)
Where to Eat, Drink, and Sleep in Rome (Bon Appetit)
Roman Holiday (Imbibe)
Ask an Expert: Katie Parla (AFAR)
“Saturday Night in Rome” (PUNCH)
10 Ways to Enjoy Rome on a Budget (The Guardian)
Unmissable Spring Foods in Rome (The Local)
Rome’s New Take on Pizza (The Guardian)