Rome Restaurant Guide

 

Overview: There are two Romes, the one on the menu and then what everyone else is eating. Stay away from the obvious menu choices — arrabbiata and amatriciana for example — and look around at what is on the dinner plates of locals. No, I did not love the ravioli stuffed with sea bass I had for lunch one day but at least it was interesting. The good news is that we discovered a wonderful salad of shredded escarole that was tossed with olive oil and mashed anchovies as well as a simple platter of thinly sliced rich pork served with bruschetta. Delicious.  Try to order seasonally — no surprise there — so artichokes were big in March and we had them every day. Pears for dessert. There is a lot of very mediocre food in Rome so where you eat is critical. Our two favorite spots were Ginos and Antico Falcone.

 

Checco er Carrettiere, Via Benedetta 10, fone: 06.5817018. Good but not great restaurant. The fried squash blossoms were great but the pastas were mediocre. Mix of locals and tourists. Not high on our list of places to eat. 

Caccio e pepe from Le Mani in Pasta

Caccio e pepe from Le Mani in Pasta

Le Mani in Pasta, Via Dei Genovesi 37, fone: 06.5816017; The “cacio e pepe” (cheese [pecorino] and pepper) was fabulous. Small space, good atmosphere, modern, not old-fashioned. Also try the escarole with the anchovy dressing — very nice. The sea bass — we tried two different versions — were nicely done although not particularly Roman. Solid.

Antico Falcone, Via Trionfale, 60 north of the Vatican; fone: 06.39736404. The “Raviole Verde” were the best thing in Rome — they looked like large Gnocchi but were indeed pasta filled with greens in a simple tomato sauce. Also loved the frittata which was thin and slightly wet, not thick and dry. Artichokes very nice but main dishes so-so. They serve the Panna Cotta with chocolate sauce on top like a ice cream sundae.

Ravioli Verde, Antico Falcone

Ravioli Verde, Antico Falcone

Weird but not the only spot to do this. An apricot tart I saw in the kitchen looked better. Order OFF the menu here — let the owner bring you food.

Trattoria Monti, near Santa Maria Maggiore, fone: 06.4466573. Highly recommended by several sources but was mediocre at best. Had the rabbit which was second-rate. 

Il Pagliaccio, fone: 06.68809595. VERY expensive. Had a menu for the bottled water! Main courses were $38 Euro — they wanted to push diners into 4 course (0r more) tastings. Very competent chef but silly food (John Dory with Rhubarb anyone?) that one can find in New York, London…just about any big city. Not cheap eats by any stretch and not particularly Roman.

Fabrizio at Forno

Fabrizio at Forno

Forno Campo De’ Fiori, Campo e’ Fiori, fone: 06.68806662, http://www.fornocampodefiori.com or email: fr@fornocampodefiori.com (contact: Fabrizio Roscioli) Pizza Bianca, among other pizzas. You buy a length of a 6-foot pizza, they fold it in half, and then you eat it standing just outside. When hot/warm, these pizzas are fabulous; slightly less great when cooled off. They have a sister bakery in NYC at Farinella. Contact: Alberto Cretara, 90 Worth Street, between Bway & Church. 212-608-3222

 

Da Enzo, Via dei Vascellari 29, in Trastevere, fone: 06.5818355 BRIGHT lights. Packed with Italians and lots of people waiting outside. Great real Roman trattoria. Noisy, cramped for space, and authentic. The marinated peppers were excellent (peperoni) and food overall was good to very good. Don’t go for a brilliant culinary experience, just go for the experience. Cheap too.

Pear Poached in Red Wine

Orange with Caramelized Zest

La Matricianella, Via dei Leone 4, off Piazza San Lorenzo which is off Via del Corso (go to far right corner and take little side street that runs parallel with the right side of the piazza. It’s about a block up on right, with outdoor seating in front). Fone: 06.6832100 This is place recommended by EVERYone and it was good but not as good as Gino (see next listing). Excellent artichokes here — definitely look around to see what others are eating. One place that really had desserts (most trattorias just serve fruit and a couple of standbys). The ricotta cheesecake (Dolce a la Nonna) was fabulous. The oranges with caramelized peel were great as was the red wine-poached pear. 

Artichoke at Ginos

Artichoke at Ginos

Trattoria Da Gino, Vicolo Rossini 4 (near P.zza del Parlamento off D. Prefetti). Fone: 06.6873434. Lunch Friday, only Italians, great waiter, even if he got the order of our courses all mixed up. NO credit cards, cash only! BEST BLOODY MEAL IN ROME. Mostly suits from the Parliament which is just a few blocks away. The pastas with peas and mushrooms was a revelation. Fabulous service, fabulous experience — would eat there every day. A MUST visit.

 

Girarrosto Toscano, Via Campania, 29, fone: 06.4821899 OR 06.42013045; Up hill from Piazza Barbarini just inside the Aurelean Wall. Great mozz, generous anti-pasti, etc. Veal chop excellent. Touristy and upscale with obsequious waiters from “Roman Holiday” but good food. The apps were the best part of the meal.

Michele's in Naples

Michele's in Naples

Naples Pizzeria: Da Pizzeria Michele, Via Cesare Sersale, 1, Naples. Take train station exit off highway (as heading North from Pompeii). Pass train station on right and enter the main square. Go to opposite end of square from entered end, far left corner and take Corso Umberto which leads out of square, parallel to the left side. Go several blocks, turning right on Via Pietro Colletta (Quartiere Pendino, there’s a upscale children’s clothing store on the corner). Within a block, there’s a 4-way intersection and the street name will change to Via Cesare Sersale. The pizzeria is immediately on the left side of this intersection. Beware, they take numbers, so be sure to get one on arrival….we waited an hour and that was at 2+PM. Fabulous pizza but it is very SOFT and it ain’t crispy. Bakes at 750 degrees for 55 seconds. Few tourists. Cheap. Fun. And you eat your pizza with knife and fork. A must visit.

 

COFFEE:

Cappuccino at Tazza d'Oro

Cappuccino at Tazza d'Oro

Tazza d’Oro, Via Degli Organi 84, around corner from Pantheon. Fone: 06.6792768 OR 06.5835869 Best cappuccino in Rome.

Sant’Eustachio Café, at Piazzo/Largo? Eustachio: NYT’s hails it as the place to get the perfect espresso….we might argue otherwise. Do NOT order a cappuccino here — too much milk, not enough espresso. Like Tazza better overall.

GELATO:

 

Pistachio Gelato, San Crispino

Pistachio Gelato, San Crispino

Il Gelato di San Crispino, Via Della Panetteria 42. Fone: 06.6793924. Located a couple of blocks up from Trevi Fountain. Small place — by far the best ice cream in Rome. Pistachio is outstanding.

Gelateria Artigianale. L.go Arenula, 27, fone: 06.68808054. This is a dumpy, out of the way gelateria but has cinnamon/chocolate/orange, coconut, ricotta & rice (riso) gelatis. The last flavor was excellent.

Giolitti, Via degli Ufficio di Vicario, off Piazza Colonna. Gelati tasted like it’s flavored artificially. A real tourist dump. You can tell by the HUGE portions and the fact that they use ice cream cones, not small containers. Annoying!

Published in: on April 6, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Comments (41)  
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  1. When I visited Rome I been to some of these places. but there is another restaurant that I think meets the same standards as these ones. the Place is called Sa Tanca Crostaceria. they make some realy good sea food. realy reccomended.
    http://www.satancacrostaceria.com

  2. Hi! I’m a devoted fan of America’s Test Kitchen and your newsletters! I was so glad to read about your new blog and the restaurants you’ve recommended…we have taken an “imaginary” trip to Italy every year for 10 years…but this year we’re actually going to go!! We’ll be there in October so I’ve printed out your list and pasted it into my Italy Book of Must See’s and Do’s!! Thanks so much! xo, Nan

  3. Thank you, Christopher, for that extensive list of restaurant reviews !
    Sounds like you had a good time.

    I got your email today. I’m so sorry the bears got your bees !

  4. I would also like to add that Hostaria del Moro in Trastevere is AMAZING! I was there in 2005 with a friend for a wedding in Siena. We stayed in Rome for a few days following the ceremony. Our apartment was two doors down from this restaurant so we decided to try it – best decision we made on the entire trip. I have never eaten a meal so delicious – Risotto alla Pescatora (Seafood Risotto). To top off the experience, as we were sitting on the cobblestone patio under a delightful umbrella, the parents of the bride walked up the street! They were heading to their “favorite restaurant in Rome” and that just happened to be where we were dining. I highly recommend Hostaria del Moro.

  5. Thanks for the tips. Sounds like you had a great time! I will be in Rome just for one long day the last week of May and will definitely check out your top rated places.

    • My daughter and granddaughter and myself were in Rome in April. We ate at some great places but I wasn’t particularly impressed with some of the food. Definately overpriced! We still had a great time taking all the tours we could in 7 days. Say a lot of history and enjoyed every minute of the experience. I wish I had your Food Guide before we went. We would have tried the restaurants you mentioned. I enjoyed seeing your pictures very much. My husband and I watch America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country Kitchen as often as possible. Love your shows!!

  6. I love your blogs, books…stories on travel and food.
    please keep up the great work.

    I am such a fan.

    June Guillermain
    Pompton Lakes NJ

  7. In most of my world travels the usual glam bistros are quite disappointing and even try 4-fork rated places just to get them out of the way.

    I’ve learned to ask shop clerks where THEY eat and it’s usually in a little alley – not on beaten path of shoppers/tourists. (That habit of mine found the most fabulous food to be found on the planet… in Istanbul – the same goes for Iran.)

    The only good memorable meals in Rome during my visits have been tiny hole in the wall worker’s lunch bistros that – sadly – shut down in the evenings.

    Still trying to replicate a back alley bistro’s roast pork and green pea bliss I repeatedly returned to get… to no avail. Sigh

  8. FYI: in your email requested bee info, email address provided bounced back with auto-response to not use that email for anything other than ask a question.

    found many links for bees . . even Italian Bees being sold in NY state: http://www.agriseek.com/market/p/Bees-Italian-Honey.htm

    also the search engine had many vendors for bees:

    http://www.metacrawler.com/metacrawler/ws/results/Web/!22honey%20bees%20for%20sale!22/1/417/TopNavigation/Relevance/iq=true/zoom=off/_iceUrlFlag=7?_IceUrl=true

  9. Christopher,
    Tazza d’Oro: we visited 16 years ago w/ a friend from Rome, who assured us it is indeed the best in Rome. Did you try their espresso granitas w/ whipped cream? I’ve been trying to duplicate it ever since, unsuccessfully. Our three children (ages five through ten at the time) and I kept going back for more. We had had little experience w/ caffeine at the time…

  10. Since I cannot go to Rome, nor can I afford your wonderful-looking book right now, is there some way I can get some of the recipes online?

    Patricia

  11. La video et le foto sono molti fabulosi. Mille grazie!

    Jamie Shafer

  12. Hi
    I saw your Country cooks TV show today on Sunday Gravy and you also did a recipe on meatballs and you called the sauce “marinara”. It is my understanding because you put the oven cooked meatbals in the tomato sauce it offically can no longer be called marinara sauce. Marinara is traditionally meatless and should be cooked fast (about 20 minutes) with an emphasis on light, fresh tomato flavor. Usually You tomato paste is not used in a marinara as well. for your meatballs, also the use of milk with the bread good technique. Great idea to use pork sausage instead of regualr ground pork with the ground meat. I’ll try it!

  13. I enjoyed video, pictures and blog. Rome is my favorite city to visit–13 times in 45 plus years with number 14 coming up in 2010. I have eaten at Gino’s and agree it’s good, and I have hit Girarrosto Toscana twice for celebratory meal and agree about appetizers. The gelato at Crispino is wonderful. I am remembering the pink grapefruit!! And, of course, cafe’ at Tazza d’Oro is top notch. I am saving a couple of the others mentioned. Oh and I enjoy pizza Naples style, but prefer the crispy crust in Rome.
    Ciao

  14. My husband is has Celiac Disease (gluten intolorant). How hard is it to eat in Italy?

  15. What perfect timing!!!! We will be in Rome for our first visit the end of May. Since our trip is short, I wanted to carefully select our restaurants. Your comments were a delight to read and so appreciated.

    Thanks!!

  16. Love your Mag have been subsciber since 1993. Love Italy and Rome so loved your blog.

    Would love to see artical in Mag. about your trips with pictures and reciepts.

    Thanks for a great Mag.

    Sincerely

    Beverly Noonan

  17. Oh, I definitely want to go back to Rome again after reading this! My husband and I were there for a week in October, got a lot of the “must sees” out of the way, so when we go back, I think we’ll devote more time to eating at some of our favorite places and certainly some of your favorites. Right next to San Crispino is a restaurant we discovered before we knew San Crispino was the place for gelato, and we returned there two or three times that week: Sora Lucia. I recommend the house wine, gnocchi with herbs and Gorgonzola (the best gnocchi I’ve had, ever), and if I remember correctly their spaghetti carbonara was the only one I’d ever eat. Not too rich or salty, unlike all the others I’ve ever had in Rome or elsewhere. If you see something for “homemade cake” on the menu, order it! It’s not so much like cake as some crumbled pastry, fluffy sweet cream, and wonderful fresh berries.

    Not far from there is a stone-oven pizza place that also has excellent calzones and the best tiramisu we tried in Rome. Their pizza is Neopolitan-style, and I would venture to say it looked a lot like what you had in Naples, only better. I got a pear and walnut pizza one night and an incredible tuna and olive calzone the next. Great service, too. I wish I could remember the name of it…we ate there twice.

    I conquer that San Crispino’s gelato was good, but I wouldn’t necessarily tell people to stay away from Giolitti. I also enjoyed their gelato, touristy as it may be. The two were completely different in almost every way. San Crispino is understated, seasonal, and the single employee had the entrance blocked as he was mopping the empty shop when we went there for a pre-dinner scoop. The “small” portions of light, but delicious creations like hazelnut meringue, cocoa rum, and of course, pistachio left us both satisfied and craving more. Giolitti was packed (yes, mostly with tourists), chaotic, ornately decorated, and their gelato was just as rich as the decor. Served in a cone and topped with freshly whipped cream, two generous, gooey scoops dripped down my hand in the 3pm sun in front of the Parliament building down the street. I would recommend both experiences.

  18. Oops! I CONCUR, not conquer, that San Crispino has wonderful gelato!

  19. Wish I’d known you were here in Rome. Our company, Flavor of Italy, has a fabulous cooking school in Rome and provides unique enogastronomical tours. I love Cooks Illustrated and it would have been my pleasure to meet you and show you some real insider foodie spots in Rome. If commentary or information is ever needed on Italian food please contact me.
    BTW, Checco er Carrettiere is overpriced and not particularly great. Gino’s is indeed great as you saw and there are quite a few other genuine Roman restaurants on its level, especially if you move away from the absolute tourist center.

  20. This was perfect! We are planning to be in Rome next week.

    Thanks!

  21. Chris, next time you head to Rome I can give you some places to go and eat. I lived in Rome for 3 years and my husband is Italian. I go back regularly- just to eat. The key is to go just a tad bit outside of the city center. The best pasta is at Da Felice located in Testaccio neighborhood. Reservations are a must at night. They have a caccio and pepe that is out of this world and people go there only for that dish. The pasta there is so good that I would skip all of the other courses and just eat the pasta. Located 5 mintutes from the airport is a town, still considered Rome and it is worth the trip there to have an amazing seafood lunch. Enjoyed the video.

  22. Chris,

    Loved your Rome video and blog. I look forward to trying Trattoria Da Gino on my next visit. The only MUST VISIT I can add are Gioa Mia (34 Via degli Avignonesi-Tel 06-4882784)order Pappardelle alla gran Duca,Fresh Porcini and anything else. My Dad and I never miss a chance to eat here “when in Rome”.

    Andrew McGough
    Basking Ridge, NJ

  23. /Dear Chris,
    Loved it all!! What was the CD you played on the Rome Video? I would love to hear more. Thank you or Grazie tante!!
    Sincerely,
    Donna Bersaglieri

  24. In Rome the middle of May last year; saw Ron Howard killing time in a little caffe just days after the Vatican refused him access to any Church in Italy… In Naples: actual name is da Michele; totally unique pizza. I also recommend Sobillo, Via Cesare Sersale 1-3, up high in the old port side of town; inexpensive, more chewy crust. Also for pizza: Lombardi a Sta. Chiara, on Via Benedetto Croce; and Da Ettore, Via Santa Lucia 56. Most fabulous thing about Naples though, and part and parcel of course where pizza is concerned is the incredible mozzarella cheese throughout the area.

  25. i wan’t to thank you for all this info. i have been to italy many times on buss. and vac. i still have family there but for sure there is no other place like it, again thanks

  26. Agree 100% with Susan! We ALWAYS ask store clerks where they eat, and we’ve had some of our most wonderful meals while travelling! In Italy, Spain,
    Costa Rica, Argentina, Mexico, even Hawaii, we’ve eaten where the locals eat and have never been disappointed! We recommed it to all our friends and they always thank us when they get home.
    My husband is from Rome and still has relatives there, so we have an advantage in that city, but anywhere else in the world, we just ask!
    PS: Great photos and great tips! We’ve loved your shows, too!

  27. Hello,
    Does someone know the name of the CD which plays in the backround of the Rome video? I would love any info on it, the name of it or the artist!! Thank you in advance!
    Donna

  28. Hello,
    If you like spaghetti amatriciana, my favorite places are:Trattoria della Stampa( Via Maronitti-near Trevi, Il Matriciano(Via dei Gracchi, 55 Roma,
    Ristorante Macaroni (near the famous Alfredo’s).

    Best pappardele(Pappardele alla Gran Duca) Via degli Avignonesi 34.

    For best pizza in the Italia it’s DaMichele in Naples.

    Reply

  29. We have just returned from 5 days in Rome, with the restaurant list in hand. Our favorite, and we NEVER would have found it, was Gino’s. You said you could eat there every day and you are right! The pasta was rich, golden perfection. We also had delicious veal and rabbit, but aside from the pasta, the tiramisu was the crowd pleaser. We rated it a 95/100, creamy, slightly fluffy with subtle espresso flavor – oh, out of this world.
    Italian coffee sets the mark for the globe, I believe. Tazza d’Oro has beautiful cappuccino, but it’s hard to go wrong with Italian coffee, don’t make the mistake of ordering American brewed.
    Loved the recommendations, thanks!

  30. Hello

    Do you recommend a restaurant in the Northeast Kingdom for pies and other homemade baked goods?

    Thanks! Love your magazine and the PBS series!

  31. That pizza sounds just like my Grandma’s who was from Apulia. She has been gone since 1987 but people are still talking about her pizza.

    Christopher, could you work the Test Kitchen magic on Cacio e Pepe pasta, please? This is one of the best pastas when properly done. But I have discovered that as simple as it is, it’s not that easy to duplicate at home. I have had a few successful tries and a few bombs where the cheese forms a blob on the bottom of the dish.

    I think that it would be a very popular recipe with a lot of folks.

  32. For Ice creams i’d also suggest Quinto (near Piazza Navona) and Fassi’s Palazzo del Freddo (near Piazza Vittorio).
    Have a nice day and good luck

  33. Trattoria Da Gino…best BLOODY meal, aye? I’ll definitely try it. Been looking for a good restaurant guide for Rome…and I think I just stumbled upon it!🙂 Thanks for the insight. I’ll def try to visit all of them.

  34. A few follow-ups on comments. I am a local, or at least almost: I’ve been here 26 years and through Flavor of Italy my business is food. Food and only food! Rome’s BEST recipes are the tried and true historic ones like Amatriciana; When in Rome do as the Romans do: eat what they do best. Yes, Gino’s is one of the best. Also try Armando’s in the Pantheon area.
    Cacio e pepe IS an easy recipe. Gently mix in the grated pecorino & freshly ground black pepper to the drained pasta. Then bit by bit add the reserved pasta water, just until creamy.
    If you mix all ingredients together at once you’ll end up with a big lump of cheese.

  35. nice place to visit !!!

  36. […] the way it lit up was spectacular! After taking a lot of pictures, we headed to this place called Maccaroni for Thanksgiving dinner. Originally, we were going to eat at the Hard Rock Café because they […]

  37. Thanks for theses reviews. If there are some french readers around here, i discovered a nice website with plenty of informations : http://www.partirdemain.com/restaurant-rome.htm
    Enjoy🙂

  38. Hello, just wanted to mention, I liked this article.

    It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  39. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you
    enning this article and also the rst off tthe website is extremely good.

  40. restaurant week

    Rome Restaurant Guide | Christopher Kimball Blog


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