Destinations,  Europe,  Italy

When in Rome…EAT as the Romans Do

There are three areas where Italy never disappoints…art, views and food. Everyone knows that Italy is responsible for some of the best food in the world. And although it’s definitely not the place to go if you’re buying into the low-carb craze, Rome has more than its fair share of delicious Italian cuisine. Sometimes the sheer amount of restaurants on every block can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t speak any Italian. That’s why I’ve put together a short guide on how to choose the best restaurants in Rome!

Like they always say…When in Rome, EAT as the Romans do.

For some non-food related activities in Rome, check out my post A Guide to the Best Sights in Rome.

First Some Italian Vocab….

First and foremost, it can be very challenging to order food in Italy if you don’t speak the language. The first couple times I went out to eat in Rome, I used the point and pray method of ordering. If you’d like to avoid this terrible method, here are a few crucial words to know for restaurant hopping in Italy.

Antipasti: Appetizers

Primi: First course, usually carb-filled dishes such as pasta or pizza

Secondi: Second course, usually consists of meat, fish or poultry

Insalate: Salads

Dolci: Desserts

Bufala: Buffalo mozzarella

Melanzane: Eggplant

Tonno: Tuna

Rucola: If you type this into your translator, it will come up with the term “rocket lettuce.” Rucola just means arugula.

Pomodoro: Tomato

Vino: Wine, either Bianchi (white) or Rossi (red)

Birra: Beer

Acqua: Water, they’ll ask if you want Naturale (still) or Frizzante (sparkling)

Patate: Potatoes

Pollo: Chicken

Funghi: Mushrooms

Knowing some food vocab always comes in handy when traveling, especially if you plan on eating away from the tourist destinations where restaurants might not offer an English menu.*

*I would highly suggest staying away from the crowded touristy destinations when picking a restaurant. Trust me…Rome’s best restaurants do not have menus covered in pictures and in six different languages.

For some useful Italian phrases (that don’t have to do with ordering food), head to my post A Guide to the Best Sights in Rome.

Restaurants to try

Dar Poeta

Located in trendy Trastevere, Dar Poeta is a must-visit for any trip to Rome. Their pizza has become famous and has earned them shout-outs on food blogs all around the world, including the American blog, @new_fork_city. No visit to Rome is complete without a “personal” pizza from Dar Poeta.

One of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten (and @new_fork_city agrees)!

Mangia Napoli

During study abroad, I spent a weekend traveling around Naples with one of my roommates. As I’m sure you’ve heard, Naples is the birthplace of pizza, which makes it pretty much equivalent to heaven. Although you may think pizza is the same all around Italy, Neapolitan pizza is much, much better! Mangia Napoli has three locations in Rome, all of which serve delicious and authentic Neapolitan pizza.

La Scala in Trastevere

A very popular restaurant in the area, and one that I actually hadn’t been introduced to until after I studied abroad, La Scala is a great option for lunch or dinner. They have a large outdoor patio that’s perfect for some people watching over wine and tasty Italian pasta. La Scala has definitely earned it’s place as one of the best restaurants in Rome!

Cacio e pepe and chicken with sweet bell pepper cream.

Trattoria da Teo

A fantastic little restaurant located on the edge of the Trastevere neighborhood, Trattoria da Teo has a lively, Italian atmosphere and some of the best food I’ve tasted in Rome. Two tips for you if you plan to visit, 1. make a reservation and 2. order the carbonara, it will NOT disappoint!

Carbonara, ravioli and seafood spaghetti.

Grazia e Graziella

Another one of our Trastevere favorites, Grazia e Graziella is located kitty corner to Tonnarello and Ombre Rosse. Clearly you don’t need to search far to find great food in this neighborhood! When we arrived for dinner, they greeted us at the door with a glass of free, spiced wine!

Pane Piú

My favorite grab-and-go panini shop in Rome. Pane Piú is located in Piazza dei Calcarari, a quick five min walk from Piazza Venezia and across the street from where Julius Caesar was stabbed! Quick, cheap and delicious, it’s a great option for the Roman tourist on-the-go.

Excuse the bite, I couldn’t wait.

Kuriya Sushi

Sometimes a girl just needs to stuff herself full of all-you-can-eat Sushi… If that’s how you’re feeling, Kuriya is the place for you. €16 per person gives you unlimited access to an enormous menu full of amazing sushi, dumplings and more!

Always order “all-you-can-eat.”

La Proscuitteria

My mouth is watering just looking at pictures of sandwiches from La Proscuitteria.  A five minute walk away from John Cabot’s campus, this little panino shop makes one hell of a sandwich. Thick, buttery bread is filled with meat, cheese, veggies, olive oil and much much more.

These thick and savory sandwiches definitely earned their title as some of the best panini in Rome.

Tonnarello

Easily one of our favorite restaurants in Rome, we made reservations at Tonnarello for my friend’s 21st birthday (which is not relevant at all in Europe, but we still felt the need to celebrate). The food was fantastic, as was the wine, and they did not seem fazed at all by our obnoxious, slightly tipsy group of 15 American college students.

Homemade pasta & pesto, eggplant meatballs with roasted potatoes.
Cacio e pepe.

Jaipur

I didn’t discover Jaipur until I moved back to Italy to work for Bus2alps in Florence. Although most people don’t go to Italy to eat Indian food…after a while Italian food can get a little heavy. Along with the best Indian cuisine I’ve ever tasted, Jaipur is a cozy little restaurant with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere! Make sure to try the house specialty white murgh. Paired with cheese naan…it really doesn’t get any better. Bonus: they give you a free glass of prosecco as soon as you sit down!

White murgh, paneer fried in chickpea batter, Jaipur naan, chickpeas in tomato sauce.

Open Baladin

Being born and raised in Wisconsin, one of the first things I did in Rome was sample the local beer. I know what you’re thinking, why would anyone be drinking beer in the wine capital of the world? Don’t worry, I drank PLENTY of wine, but sometimes a girl just needs a frosty IPA alongside her carbonara. If you need a break from pasta and pizza, Open Baladin has a huge selection of the best local brews in Rome and a tasty array of bar food!

E’ Passata La Moretta

Located across the Tiber in Campo di Fiori, E’ Passata La Moretta was a recommendation from our Airbnb host. The interior of the restaurant is very plain, but the staff is friendly and the food is to-die-for. They’ll add truffle to any pasta dish on the handwritten menu, all you have to do is ask. The restaurant also has an outdoor patio where many locals hang out to have a few glasses of wine at night!

Awarding them the award of best truffle menu in Rome.

Ombre Rosse

Ombre Rosse has tasty food and a fun atmosphere. Half of their seating is outside on the cobbled streets of Trastevere. It’s a great place to have a bottle of wine and people watch with a friend or two!

Roman pizza with prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella, arugula, greek olives and cherry tomatoes.

Pizza Trilussa

I saved the best for last! The whole time we lived in Rome, we never strayed from our go-to drunk pizza place, Pizza Trilussa. I’m sure all my study abroad friends are tearing up thinking about all the hilarious nights we spent there, covered in pizza grease and trying out our broken Italian on the very patient staff. They’re open every night until the pizza runs out and sometimes it’s scooped up fast!  If you aren’t a believer yet, most of my friends (including myself) didn’t leave Rome without buying a Pizza Trilussa T-shirt.

Peep the beautiful suppli in the back.

Gelato time

Frigidarium

If you’re seeking out the best restaurants in Rome…don’t forget to also seek out the best gelato in Rome!

Frigidarium won our, very prestigious, award of #1 Gelato in Rome. We spent four months eating gelato every week (let’s be honest, every day) and we were unable to find anywhere with better gelato than Frigidarium. They’ll even dip your cone in chocolate or vanilla shell!  You’ll regret leaving Rome without trying a scoop (or six) of their delicious flavors.

Real-life pic of some of the best gelato in Rome.

Del Viale

A close second to Frigidarium, Del Viale is on top of their gelato game.  Make sure to try a scoop from both if you’re ever in Rome. In the same night? No judgement here.

Della Palma

While you’re hitting all the gelaterias in Rome, might as well stop by Della Palma. The sheer amount of flavors will overwhelm you, but, once you choose from the rows and rows of delicious flavors, it’s all worth it!

Since my university was located in Trastevere, most of the restaurants and bars I am familiar with are in that area. However, Rome is a huge city and there are many neighborhoods, streets and restaurants left to explore. Hopefully my guide will you help you find the best restaurants in Rome and experience many life-changing Italian meals!

If you’re planning on seeing more of Italy, make sure to check out my related guides The Best of Florence, The Ultimate Guide to Dining in Florence, A Beginner’s Guide to the Amalfi Coast24 Hours in Milan and A Guide to the Best Sights in Rome.

As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps!

xoxo.

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