Rome foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Feast on suppli (mozzarella-filled fried rice snacks), pistachio gelato slicked with whipped cream, glasses of chilled grechetto and bowls of cacio e pepe in the Italian capital
Looking for restaurants in Rome? Want to know where to eat in the Italian capital? Local food stylist Alice Adams Carosi and food writer Rachel Roddy share their insider tips for the best restaurants in Rome, along with where to find Roman sandwiches, slices of pizza and the best gelato.
olive’s must-visits for foodies in Rome
Castroni – for coffee
Stop for coffee at the Castroni emporium on Via Cola di Rienzo. Its house bar is wedged beside shelves of the best Italian specialty produce; find a spot at the bar and sip a cappuccino al vetro (cappuccino served in a glass) surrounded by the smell of just-ground coffee and the buzz of the Prati neighbourhood.
Mercato Rionale Niccolini – for fresh produce
If you’re self-catering, the outdoor market on Via Niccolini (open every day but Sunday in Monteverde Vecchio) is the place to head for the pick of the season’s crops. Seek out buffalo milk ricotta and chargrilled mozzarella at Alimentari Carlo in the middle of the strip, as well as one of Rome's best fish stalls.
Via Giovanni Battista Niccolini
Ristorante Piperno – for cosy, old-school atmosphere
Double fried carciofi alla giudia are one of the undisputed pillars of the Roman table. For some of the best, make your way to Ristorante Piperno, tucked down a small street in the city’s Jewish ghetto. It serves meltingly soft artichoke hearts encased by crisp leaves in Rome’s most charming dining room.
Marigold – for fresh, modern cooking
Chef Domenico Cortese, of microbakery and restaurant Marigold, exalts the best of every season in dishes like shaved fennel and puntarelle with toasted hazelnuts, and aubergines with roasted pepper romesco salsa. Completing the picture are Sofie Wochner's sourdough breads and a great natural wine list. Book for dinner, on Friday and Saturday nights only.
The Pasta Factory – for pasta lessons
As the name suggests, Veronica Paolillo’s unique studio kitchen lies in an old pasta factory. Which is appropriate since her focus in the small group workshops she leads is firmly on pasta. Learn how to make three different types of pasta before enjoying them first-hand at a shared meal with your fellow students.
Supplizio – for street food
The original Roman street food, supplì is a mozzarella-filled fried rice snack. At Supplizio, in the middle of the meandering streets around Via dei Banchi Vecchi, you can try a perfect rendition of the original tomato supplì, as well as cacio and pepe and carbonara varieties.
Circus Maximus Farmers Market – for porchetta sandwiches
The long tradition of bringing herb-stuffed and crackling-coated roast pork from the hinterland towns into the city continues with the selling of porchetta sandwiches. One of the best porchetta paninos is to be found at the Campagna Amica Farmer's Market in Via San Teodoro every Saturday and Sunday.
Il Goccetto – for wine
Enoteca are the best kind of wine shops: those you can have a drink in. Even better if they serve small plates of appetisers alongside the wine, as Il Goccetto does. If you’re visiting in the summer ask for a glass of chilled Grechetto from northern Lazio.
Spoon Gelateria – for artisan gelato
Steps away from Piazza San Pietro, Spoon Gelateria is Rome's newest gelato gem. The purist’s pick is hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate with a slick of whipped cream, or try a scoop of the Gentillini made with the iconic Roman biscuits.
Urbana 47 – for a foodie place to stay in Rome
A modern twist on the guesthouse tradition, Urbana 47’s pared-back bedrooms are set above a happening bar and pizzeria in the ivy clad streets of the Monti neighbourhood. Its owners have been leaders in the drive to use more seasonal, local and ethically raised produce in Rome’s kitchens, using free-range eggs from one of Lazio's best poultry farms in dishes and offering an impressive local wine selection among other policies. Breakfast is typically Roman and no-frills (a coffee and a cornetto) but if you’re after something more substantial you can order eggs with toast and seasonal vegetables, mushroom and mozzarella omelettes, eggs benedict or croque monsieur made with mozzarella down in the restaurant.
Panificio Bonci – for pizza
It’s hard to walk past this spot, on Via Trionfale, without stopping for a slice of pizza al taglio, maybe potato and mozzarella or a classic pizza rossa. If you’re self-catering you’ll also want to pick up a loaf made using the best organic stoneground flours, or a bag of artisan pastries.
Piatto Romano – for comfort food
Aged sheep's milk pecorino cheese is a cornerstone ingredient in the big four Roman pastas: cacio e pepe, carbonara, amatriciana and la gricia. Pull up a chair at Testaccio trattoria Piatto Romano and dive into a bowl of pasta cooked the way it should be – simple, unsophisticated and blanketed with pecorino.
Words by Alice Adams Carosi, June 2019
Trust olive: Alice Adams Carosi is a cook, food stylist and the creator of Latteria studio in Rome (latteriastudio.com). Spending time at the city’s markets is happily part of her job description. Follow her on Instagram @alicekiandra.adams
Rachel Roddy's best places to eat and drink in Rome
Armando – for traditional Roman food
Metres away from the Pantheon, Armando is a quietly elegant, but not at all precious, trattoria serving excellent, traditional Roman food. Try the fettuccine con le rigaglie (fresh egg pasta with chicken livers) and the torta antica.
VinoRoma – for wine tastings
Hande Leimer’s wine tastings at VinoRoma are illuminating and relaxed. Her most popular tasting is ‘My Italians’, a two-hour event held in her handsome studio near the Colosseum.
Mordi & Vai – for sandwiches
At Mordi & Vai ex-butcher Sergio Esposito’s sandwiches are some of Rome’s greatest (and best value). The classic, panino con l’ allesso, is a soft roll dipped in rich meat broth, filled with meltingly tender boiled beef.
Il Gelato – for gelato
In case of indecision, nocciola e cioccolato (hazelnut and chocolate) is a good default position at Il Gelato. A brisk 10-minute walk from the Colosseum other favourites at this gelateria include lemon and wild strawberries, pear, port and almond, and the Roman favourite, stracciatella.
Forno Campo de' Fiori – for pizza
Get to Forno Campo de’ Fiori by 11 to grab a late-morning snack. Order a slice of both pizza bianca (olive oil and salt) and pizza rossa (with tomato). Don’t stand by the door or the bins – take your hot pizza into the relative calm of Piazza Farnese and eat it beside one of the fountains.
Testaccio market – for market shopping
Modern and bright Testaccio market is as tremendous and genuine as its grubbier previous incarnation. Wander between stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and cheese, then buy mozzarella from Lina (box 89), bread and pizza from Artenio (box 90), and tomatoes and strawberries from Gianluca (box 32).
Between Via Aldo Manuzio and Via Beniamino Franklin
Flavio al Velavevodetto – for pasta
At trattoria Flavio al Velavevodetto, partly burrowed into Monte Testaccio, the quartet of classic roman pastas – carbonara, gricia, amatriciana and cacio e pepe – are all superb. In season, order artichokes either Roman-style (braised whole with mint and garlic) or Jewish-style (deep-fried until they look like an exquisite bronze flower).
Bar Barberini – for coffee
Rome is peppered with bars in which the real business of life is conducted over small cups of espresso, drunk standing at the counter. Follow suit at Bar Barberini; pay first, stand at the counter holding a small coin on your receipt, order, and drink in both coffee and atmosphere.
Via Marmorata 41, 00 39 06 575 0869
Best street food in Rome
Demand for more affordable dining options has brought delicious changes to Rome's food scene, not least a growing number of venues providing high-quality street food. At Trapizzino in Testaccio thick and spongy pizza corners are toasted, sliced open and filled with spoonfuls of hearty Roman dishes like oxtail stew, braised beef, aubergine parmigiana and meatballs.
Head to historic bakery Antico Forno Roscioli (Via dei Chiavari 34), where pizza con la mortazza (mortadella-filled flatbread) is an inexpensive sandwich served year-round.
Across the river in Prati, porchetta (deboned roast pork) sandwiches, are the specialty at Birra e Porchetta (Via Ciro Menotti 32) and the pizza con la porchetta (roast pork filled flatbread) from Panificio Bonci (Via Trionfale 36) has to be the city’s most satisfying street-food bite.
Trust olive: Rachel Roddy is a Rome-based food writer. Her first book, Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome is published by Saltyard books.