I think it is safe to say that when it comes to the food scene, Rome is well up there. Whether you’re on the look out for fresh pasta, pizza, gelato or coffee, Rome certainly has it all and in abundance.
With all that said, if you are planning on visiting this historic city, you will need to plan ahead. Never have I come across a city with such a disparity in food quality and sadly for every insanely good restaurant there is at least 10 poor ones, there to make the most of the crowds of tourists that visit each year.
On a recent visit I learnt that you really mustn’t judge a book by it’s cover and the best and most authentic restaurants are often the least impressive from the outside. If you take this approach and judge the menu rather than grand appearance, you will avoid any overly priced amateurs, less is more when it comes to the menus.
Here are my favourite spots from our recent trip, all equally superb in their own unique way.
What’s more authentically Italian than a comforting bowl of homemade pasta with a scattering of parmesan? Rome is home to some amazing pasta, but here are two of my favourites that are a MUST visit!
You only need google ‘Rome food’ and Armando will be one of the first restaurants that pops up. A traditional trattoria that has been open since 1961, it’s quite possibly the most popular restaurant in town. I loved the authentic feel of the place, located just 30 seconds from the Pantheon and now run by Armando’s son and nephew in the kitchen cooking up some of the best fresh pasta in Rome, if not the whole of Italy.
What Order – The classic ‘cacio e pepe’ (cheese & pepper) is mouthwateringly good and the carbonara with pecorino and pig cheek was just superb.
Additional Tips – Book well in advance, walk-ins are unlikely. It’s best to plan a lunch here on a day you’re planning to explore the Pantheon, Trevi and Spanish Steps.
The Gran Melia is located in the heart of historic Rome, with views of the vast Vatican walls and surrounded by beautifully pristine gardens.
What To Order – The cacio e pepe was ultra creamy and delicious and the homemade ravioli was the ideal primi course.
Additional Tips – Book a late dinner and go for a romantic walk around the Vatican walls before heading for pasta and cocktails.
Much like Armando earlier in this list, Bonci is another very well known foodie hot spot in Rome, famed for it’s unbelievable stone-baked pizzas and another must visit.
What To Order – Their pizza lineup changes daily with all manner of fresh toppings, but a personal favourite was the classic Margherita with creamy ricotta cheese. Be sure to try the arancini balls too, a quite special sidekick to the pizza!
Additional Tips – Either head for an early lunch or afternoon snack as during 12.30-2pm this place gets VERY busy with queues out the door.
Discover more about Bonci Pizzarium here.
One thing is for sure, the Italian’s know their coffee! As a bit of a coffee snob, I was delighted to discover that there is no shortage of the strong stuff in Rome and the Italians take both their espressos and accompanying pastries very seriously. A personal highlight was Roscioli Caffe, about a ten minute walk from the Pantheon and when I arrived the cafe was bustling with locals chatting away, which is always a good sign.
What To Order – A classic double espresso alongside the iconic Roman delicacy, a Maritozzo – a sweet brioche like bun filled with whipped vanilla cream.
Additional Tips – Head here for a morning caffeine kick and Maritozzo before exploring the Pantheon and surrounding cobbled streets.
Discover more about Roscioli here.
The Romans aren’t just skilled at building an empire it seems, they are also rather good at making ice cream, or gelato as it’s fondly know as in Rome. Now unlike the other spots on the list, I can’t categorically say Gelateria Romana is the ‘best’ ice cream in the city as believe it or not it’s the only gelato we tried (!) but I can vouch that it was very, very good and all made in-house, so ultra fresh.
What To Order – The pistachio was very good and the custard a real highlight! You can also have your cones filled with white or milk chocolate for that added bit of sugar!
Discover more about Gelateria Romana here.
Now I never thought I’d be saying this, but after a few days in Rome gorging on pasta and pizza, there may come a time that you are craving something a little different. Madre Roma is the perfect alternative, with a tapas style menu and classic Italian dishes with a modern twist. The restaurant is set in a beautiful covered garden, ideal for a romantic dinner or special occasion.
What To Order – Head straight to the Parilla section on the menu, a mini barbecue cooked at the table, or go for the beef or Sal—a fish of the day seared on sea salt stone and served with a roasted spuds and aspargus on the side. The desserts are adventurous twists on Italian classics, so forgo the gelato and fruit and order the Maritozzo with a passion fruit and cacao filling. Or simply order another cocktail and soak up that delightful terrace for another few hours.
Discover more about Madre Roma here.
When in Rome as the saying goes… if you are looking for a special way to kick start an evening, look no further than the Court Cocktail Bar. A brand new addition and housed in Rome’s exclusive boutique hotel Palazzo Manfredi, the terrace offers breathtaking views of the Colosseum.
What To Order – A classic mojito or Aperol spritz
Additional Tips – You can only book for groups of 6 people or more, so alternatively head there for 7pm when the bar opens to guarantee a front row seat of the Colosseum! Beware, the drinks here are rather pricey, so my advice would be to limit yourself to one or two drinks, then head out for dinner.
Discover more about the Court Cocktail Bar here.
What are your favourite foodie spots in this historic city?