Where to Eat in Rome: Mangia bene – Mangia tutto!
Mangia tutto! There’s such a wide range of restaurants in Rome. From snack food to quick bites to elaborate multi-course tastings, where to eat in Rome is somewhat of an open ended question. The possibilities are endless, with diners on any budget and even those that are gluten free! One thing is for sure, you’ll never leave a meal hungry in Italy.
Gluten-free in Italy
Italy actually treats gluten intolerance as a grave illness, granting those with celiac disease extra time off. In fact, gluten free pasta is sold at the pharmacy, like medicine. It’s very easy to find gluten free options throughout Rome, risotto and gnocchi are usually good options. Never hesitate to ask the staff, as it’s not an uncommon request.
Breakfast and Italian Caffe
Breakfast in Rome is a quick affair and usually consists of a cornetto (croissant like pastry, though not usually as obsessively flaky as you find in France) standing at “il bar” drinking down one’s caffe espresso or cappuccino. For something more filling, you may find a tramezzini, a crustless sandwich, sort of like a tea sandwich, with a variety of fillings.
Caffe Tazzo di Oro
Address: Via degli Orfani, 84, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Elaborate marble and aged mirrors line this classic caffe, just in the shadow of the Pantheon. You pay first, then take the receipt (il scontrino), hand it to the barista, and repeat your order. The rhythmic song of the caffe fills the senses. The whir of espresso grinding, the whoosh of steaming milk, the clink of porcelain cups and metal spoons being rapidly prepared for guests, the jovial chatter of regulars. There’s minimal seats, as this is a stand at the bar and enjoy kind of place. It’s a classic. During the summer, don’t miss the granita di caffe, a lovely iced coffee to beat the heat.
Sant Eustachio Caffe
Address: Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. On another fabulous piazza between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, Sant Eustachio Il Caffe has been adding a zing to customers’ steps since 1938. Often noted as the best cafe in town, the beautiful yellow cups are adorned with a stag’s head and a cross, the symbol of Sant Eustachio, who’s church is right next door (he was martyred in this square during the time of Emperor Trajan).
The caffe’s famous espresso has a perfect layer of crema on top, an indicator of the right balance of roast, grind, pressure and water, which itself is rumored to come from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the Acqua Vergine. Rub shoulders with tourists, students and senators, as the caffe is located near the Parliament buildings.
Lunch and Dinner
Multi course, languorous lunches and dinners are a beautiful Italian tradition. Start with an apertif (pre drink) and the antipasti (literally, “before pasta”) of olives and salumi, roasted veggies, fried zucchini flowers.
A primi (first course) pasta, followed by secondi (second course) fish or meat and contorni (veggie sides). Finish it off with an insalata, designed to “clean the stomach” before a dolci (sweet), caffe, and digestif (after dinner drink). Most restaurants are happy to serve one or a combination of courses, as most people can’t consume all that food.
Il Ritrovo del Gusto
Address:Via dei Coronari, 30, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. Just around the corner from Piazza Navona on a quiet and charming piazza, Ritrovo del Gusto is a late morning caffe that changes into a lively wine bar. It’s a great place for an afternoon apertif with a robust spread of stuzzichini (snacks), and a wonderful spot for dinner. The pasta alla gricia is one of my favorite foods ever in the history of everything. Live music is a regular feature. In warmer months, snag a seat outside, facing the fountains splashing in Piazza San Simeone.
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina
Address:Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma RM, Italy. As the name implies, this “deli with a kitchen” is both deli and restaurant. The menu is “founded on research, simplicity, and the value of the ingredients”. In classic Italian fashion, nothing is elaborate, but everything is fantastic. Enjoy heaping bowls of burrata dressed in olive oil, mountains of perfect pasta, scampi, oysters, lamb cutlets – traditional roman favorites mix with an international flavor in this lively setting. Reservations are a must. Excellent option for people with food sensitivities: the menu identifies all kinds of allergens.
Hostarai di Moro di Tony
Address: Vicolo de’ Cinque, 36/37, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. On a charming street in Trastevere, Hostaria di Moro serves large portions fit for the ravenous hordes, at honest prices. Try the calamari fritti and the veal in green peppercorn sauce.
Campo de Fiori and Ruggiero Campo de Fiori
The daily fruit and vegetable market has morphed from a quotidian resource to a shopping extravaganza. About half the vendors still sell fresh veggies, fruits and cheeses while others offer prepared foods, olive oils and seasonings, and a few selling kitchen goods, cashmere scarves and Italian t-shirts.
The market is a great resource for picnic foods and the last round of snacks before boarding the train or flight out of town. Get your breads from Forno Campo de Fiori at the north edge of the piazza. At the southern edge of the market is Ruggiero Campo de Fiori, a deli and specialty foods shop that will provide all the needs that can’t be met in the campo itself. You can ask for your salumi and cheeses to be vacuum wrapped for safe transport through US customs.
Felice da Testaccio
Address: Via Mastro Giorgio, 29, 00153 Roma RM, Italy. Located in Testaccio, formerly a working class neighborhood that has become a lively nightlife destination, Da Felice has been serving up Roman classics since 1936. However, what was once a nondescript restaurant offering classic dishes in an unassuming setting has changed. The word is out, and hip rockers and fashion glitterati line up for a coveted spot at the table. Make a reservation, then order the cacio e pepe for a sublime experience.