In Italy, especially in the South, eating very well and a lot is truly a experience, and it’s not strange at all to spend hours around a table eating and talking. Rome is no exception at all, in Rome, food is a big part of social gathering, both for children and adults. Rome is such a big city that it’s hard to chose where one should visit, so bare in mind that this is just a small selection of the places to enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner and more in the Eternal City.
Breakfast, called “colazione” is like a ritual and, if you’re not having it at home or in your hotel, you surely want to go to a bar and order an espresso with a cornetto (croissant). We Italians don’t have a clue about Americano coffee, so you can go for a short or a long espresso or and if you’re not a coffee lover go for a cappuccino or a latte macchiato.
In Rome, you’ll find bars at every corner and the more local you go, the more pleasure you’ll have, eating your breakfast surrounded by locals, talking with the bartender, or reading the newspaper. Here is a selection of places I highly recommend to tourists when visiting Rome. Nothing fancy, but truly authentic and in the city centre.
Start your day with a Gran Caffè at Sant’Eustachio – Il Caffè, which is considered the best place for a coffee in Rome. It’s a small but well-known bar. You can please your palate with a “cornetto” at the Caffè del Presidente, near St. Peter’s or at the Caffè Fleming, also famous for its wine bar.
If you’re in the mood for a cappuccino, do not hesitate to go to Sciascia Caffè which has won the award for the best cappuccino in Italy.
Lunch is more than just a panini or a piece of pizza; you can spend 2-3 hours eating or just relaxing with food and drinks. Tourists usually prefer something lighter and that’s why I’m suggesting the following places, in saying that, you could easily go to the same places I recommend in the “dinner” section of this guide.
If you’re near Campo dei Fiori Rome, go straight to the Forno di Campo de’ Fiori and ask for some pizza; you’ll get a huge piece of pizza with no mozzarella cheese and no tomato but with a lot of oil and salt. Ask for some “mortadella” and you’ll be the happiest person in the world.
Supplizio and Casa del Supplì Rome will tingle your palate with the worldwide famous “supplì”, rice balls with mozzarella and ragù.
For a rewarding and really Roman experience, go to the Mercato di Testaccio or the Mercato Centrale in Roma Termini, where you’ll find different stalls for eating and drinking. My recommendation is the pizza made by Gabriele Bonci at the Mercato Centrale which is definitely not something tourists and people who are not from Rome would expect. Trapizzino is another one that you really need to try.
The day cannot be over without a proper aperitivo; it’s a combination of alcohol and small bites which are supposed to “open” your stomach and prepare you for dinner, but in reality sometimes the “small bites” are so big you will have to fight against your will to have dinner afterwards.
For a proper aperitivo you cannot miss Freni e Frizioni near Piazza Trilussa: a big buffet with vegetarian options and a huge list of cocktails to be drank inside or outside if the weather is good. It’s always full of people, but the experience is definitely worth it.
Tr3ntatr3 is a local place in the Testaccio area where you can have a classical aperitivo or a larger version called “apericena” which means you’ll probably won’t need to have dinner. If you’re looking for a younger atmosphere, Passus near the Sapienza University is the right place with its spritz and lots of bits and bites to eat. Bar Monti , also in the same neighborhood, offers a selection of cocktails and draft beers as well.
Unmissable is the historical Doppio Zeroo , where, exactly like in Freni and Frizioni, locals go for its cocktails and a very rich buffet, with some of the best fried and baked goods the city has to offer.
When it comes to dinner, Rome has a lot to offer- we Romans love to eat out and the City is absolutely happy to offer people different options. If you want to eat a real pasta alla carbonara (you can find my recipe here), or a pasta cacio e pepe, or an original amatriciana, you should choose somewhere in the city centre between La Matricianella, Felice a Testaccio, Checchino dal 1887 and Flavio al Velavevodetto.
If you’re really brave, go to the Garbatella neighborhood and have your pasta at the Tanto pe’ Magnà, which is always packed with locals. For real authentic pizza from Rome, very thin and packed with toppings, you need to go to Pizzeria ai Marmi , near Trastevere or La Gatta Mangiona.
Finally, for fining dining lovers, I cannot leave out one of my favorite places in the World: La Pergola inside the Hotel Rome Cavalieri, a 3 Michelin Star restaurant with Heinz Beck as a chef. Though expensive and hard to book, but if you can, do not miss this experience; you’ll discover some great food and dine overlooking all of Rome.
Despite the fact you will have the opportunity to have your dessert in the same place you’re having dinner (and you probably will too), there are always places where you can get a dessert or a cake, even in the middle of the night!
I cannot not recommend Pompi enough for its tiramisu. One should also check out Gelateria Fassi – Palazzo del Freddo for ice cream, the maritozzo con la panna (brioche style bread with whipped cream) and the granita. If you’re looking for a real Roman experience, then you have to have a cornetto during the night or some sweet kind of bread.
My go-to places are Cornetto Notte, Il Cornettaro, Pasticceria Romoli and Cornetteria di San Lorenzo. Do not expect fancy places, but instead very genuine ones with local people looking for a sweet treat before going to bed.
With regard to the post dinner drinks, same as before: you can have your shot at the restaurant you’re eating in, but if you want to experience Rome then forget about the places in the most touristy areas and follow my advice.
Stazione di Posta, in Testaccio offers a great selection of vintage cocktails, while the Micca Club, in the Esquilino area is the perfect place to hang out during the week and taste the oak aged cocktails. Caffè Propaganda, near the Coliseum is unknown to tourists, but here you can choose among a huge selection of cocktails, wines and also special spirits.
Now, are you ready for your next adventure to Rome? Just make sure you get lost in the City-you definitely won’t be disappointed by the numerous good places you’ll discover all by yourself.
I’m an Italian, but Dublin based, food and travel writer. I decided to start my food blog in 2010, when I moved to Ireland. Since then, I’ve been working with brands, companies, tourism boards and magazines producing content, strategies and taken part in cooking shows and events all over the world. Among them, Jamie Oliver, Barilla and many many more. I plan and write while my husband and business partner Giuseppe takes care of the pictures, both food and travel side.